I recently attended a Home and Garden Show in my area. “Energy Efficiency” seemed to be a theme embraced at almost every booth. These are some common sense tips I picked up that I think are worth passing on to you.
The top three uses for electricity in your home are:
1. Air conditioners and Electric Heat
2. Electric Water Heaters
Set your thermostat to 78 degrees in summer and 68 in winter. At least set the temperatures as high or as low as you can live with comfortably. Every house is different and personal comfort levels are not the same. Put on a sweater or use a warm throw. However, don’t be miserable it is not worth it. Even better, install a programmable thermostat.
Air conditioning and heating systems will work best when clean. Have a professional tune-up performed on your air conditioner each spring and heating system in the fall for maximum efficiency.
Vents for your HVAC system should remain open for better circulation. Also make sure they are not blocked by furniture. Check your air conditioning duct work for leaks seal properly with tape and mastic.
Every month change, wash or check your air filter. A clean air filter will make your HVAC last longer, not have to work as hard due to restricted air flow and be healthier for you.
Only wash clothes with cold water. An average family with an electric water heater can save up to $1800 per year by washing in cold water. Clothes that are really dirty and in my opinion sheets should be washed in warm water. Try to only wash full loads when you can. Clean the lint trap after every load.
No heat mode on your dishwasher is the most energy efficient. Some dishwashers call it air dry or have a light wash option, use when appropriate; check your manual. Again, try to only run full loads. Lowering the temperature on your water heater a just few degrees can save you more than you might think. If your water heater is in an unconditioned space such as attic, basement or garage buy an approved water heater blanket wrap at a hardware store.
Easiest step you can take to cut up to 20% on your energy bill is to replace all the light bulbs in your home with “CFL” Compact Florescent Lights. They have gotten better than when they first came out. They are now offered in a variety of brightness from soft yellow glow to bright daylight. They cost more up front but last longer and save on electric usage.
Leave a room turn it off! Have a family meeting share electric bills and talk about turning off TVs, radios, games, toys, and lights when you leave a room. Try to explain the money you save will go toward something fun for the family, vacation, new bikes or games. Make it educational and rewarding not just a gripe session. Look at both last years and this year’s bills along with temperature differences.
Energy efficient appliances don’t cost they pay. If your appliances including your heating and air conditioning system are over ten years old a new appliance or HVAC system may pay for itself in utility savings.
Calk around your door, windows, utility lines, water lines or any other openings that run into your home. Seal your air conditioning systems boots and collars.
Three well placed deciduous (leaf-losing) trees on the west, south and east side of your home will provide shade in the summer and will help to lower air conditioning costs.
Refrigerators need to have the coils cleaned regularly. Make sure it is not too close to the wall, air needs to circulate around the coil and cool it. Be sure the door seal is good and tight. 35 to 38 degrees is a good temperature for refrigerator any colder is not helpful. Keep your freezer around 5 to 10 degrees for the same reason.
Insulating your attic can reduce your air conditioning and heating load up to 30 percent. The minimum recommendation for insulation amount in most attics is R-30, or about 9 to 14 inches, depending on the type of insulation you use. The more the better, can’t have too much. Explore all your options, foam, blown, radiant barrier all are good just depends on what your budget will allow.
Ceiling fans can help to keep rooms cool and air circulating. Turn them off when you are not in the room.
Try to unplug phone chargers, coffee pots, DVD players and anything else you can think of that may have a clock or be using phantom electricity. That includes anything with a remote control. You might try to hook these items up to a power strip when they are not in use you can turn power strip switch to off.
Your computer should have an Energy- Saver setting function on the Control Panel make sure it is set to go into “sleep mode” after 20 minutes.
Now is a good time to consider installing solar screens on your windows. This is a low cost alternative to installing new windows.
Only use the electric oven when you have to. Use a toaster oven, microwave, or outdoor grill whenever possible.
Weather-strip windows and doors. The less air leakage in and out the better.
Go on line to your local utility company’s web site to see if they have any special programs, rebates or giveaways. In some state you can pick your provider and they compete for rates. In others, utilities are giving away CFL bulbs for free. Some will even come to your home and do an energy audit. Many states are offering rebates to upgrade your heating and air conditioning equipment.
“A Penny Saved, Is A Penny Earned”
Benjamin Franklin was a very wise man. But honestly I don’t know how his wife put up with him.