Winter is quickly approaching and for many areas of the United States that means a significant bump in energy usage – and more money. Thankfully there are some ways to combat the rising bills and save energy and money.
- Lighting: Shorter days means more time with lights on. Saying to keep all the lights turned off in the house just isn’t practical but you can make a big impact with a simple switch of bulbs. Changing to an ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulb rather than a typical incandescent bulb can save over 80% (100 Watt – 16 Watt LED). If you replace 10 bulbs that are on for an average of 5 hours a day, that is a savings of over 4,200 watts per day. Over a 3 month time that is about 378,000 watts.
- Heating: Here is a tough one. Yes, you have heard it a thousand times, turn down the thermostat and you will save a bunch of energy and money. While that is very true, you still want to be comfortable and not have to wear a winter jacket inside of your home. Programmable thermostats are a great option as they allow you to adjust the temperature at night or when you are outside the home. Smart thermostats let you control everything from your phone. Another idea is to use supplemental heat such as a portable heater for the most occupied rooms or an installed heater certified for bathroom usage allowing you to keep the rest of the home cooler. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for usage.
- Insulation: Check if you have enough insulation in your home. Think of it like a jacket for your house. You wouldn’t go out in a T-Shirt when it is 5 degrees out. Okay, before the letters start coming in – MOST people would not go out in a T-shirt. You would want to put a heavy winter coat on. The same holds true for you house. The insulation is basically the jacket. If it doesn’t have enough, you will have drafts and your heater will have to work extra hard to keep the temperature. Most of the time the money you spend to insulate will be easily made up on energy savings. To see what you need, visit https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table
- Find the drafts: Eliminating drafts from you home will greatly improve your efficiency and energy consumption. There are qualified professionals that will do an energy audit on your home. We wish we could say they are free but unfortunately unless it is a friend that owes you a favor, there is a cost to it. A simple and some may consider it a fun way to find drafts is to walk around the house with a small candle. As the flame encounters a draft you will see it flicker. Hopefully the problem isn’t so bad it blows the flame out. It is best to do this when there is a breeze outside, as this will provide an easier way for you to see where the air is coming in. Once you have identified the drafts you can then address what to do.
BONUS TIP: Don’t be lead astray – There is a lot of information out there that is almost dangerous. Especially when it come to exhaust fans and kitchen ventilation. Articles will say to not use any ventilation as it removes conditioned air, causing high bills. Being Air King is a ventilation company, we like to think we know a thing or two about the subject. As with most misguided information, there is a little bit of truth in there. Yes taking conditioned air out of the home does mean it needs to be replaced with more conditioned air. Here is the issue. When you properly ventilate the home, you are removing harmful – yes harmful air from the home. Air that is carrying carcinogens from the cooking surface, moist air that if not ventilated will cause mold and mildew growth in the bathrooms and so forth. So it comes down to balancing the energy usage verses the health of the home. A good step is to use the speed controls on your ventilation units. If you are just warming up some soup on the cook top you probably don’t need to crank the range hood up to it’s highest setting. Think of it this way. If you have a fireplace, you wouldn’t even think about keeping the chimney closed when you had a fire going. It wouldn’t take long for the entire home to be filled with smoke. However, by opening the chimney, you are allowing conditioned air to escape. It becomes the benefits of having a fire to provide heat verses the negative of loosing conditioned air.
To learn more about ways to save energy and money, visit the climate change section of this site or www.energystar.gov