If you’re considering solar for your home, or you just want to start reducing your energy bills without dramatically changing your lifestyle, here are some energy efficiency ideas and strategies to reduce your energy footprint and put more money in your pocket every month. For starters, there are eight easy things you can do. You might consider these eight the low hanging fruit as they can be accomplished for the least amount of out of pocket cost while providing the biggest bang for those bucks.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
Replacing your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat can save you an estimated 10% per year on your heating and air conditioning costs. If you’d like to save even more and remotely control your thermostat, you might consider installing a smart Nest thermostat. This is one of the most effective energy efficiency products on the market today. You can learn more about the Nest thermostat at www.nest.com.
- Better utilize natural sunlight.
By controlling the sunlight streaming through your windows most days, you can better control the temperature of your home. For example, by selecting window treatments with reflective solar backing, you can keep your home cooler in the summer by simply lowering or closing the window treatments during the day. This will reduce heat gain during the hottest hours and days of the summer. Additionally, the right window treatments can help insulate your windows in the winter by keeping precious heat from escaping.
- Swap out your old appliances.
Switching to highly efficient Energy Star appliances, fans, and other electronics can save nearly $900 over their lifetimes. Additionally, your local utility may offer rebates, incentives, free pickup, and recycling of old appliances. Check for local programs before upgrading to ensure you’re maximizing your savings.
- Swap out those old incandescent light bulbs.
Replacing 15 incandescent light bulbs with energy saving CFL or LED bulbs will save you up to $50 per year and more the $600 over the lifetime of the bulbs. When it comes to energy efficiency in you home, few things beat changing out old light bulbs. This is an easy and inexpensive way to cut your energy costs. Be sure to check the color spectrum (warm, white, blue) of the bulbs before you buy them to ensure they comply with your personal tastes and illumination preferences.
- Use power strips for your electronics.
Many people don’t realize that up to 10% of their electricity usage is the result of phantom loads. Phantom loads are the result of electronic devices that are waiting for a signal from a remote control, computers and other devices using power ‘bricks’, and other devices drawing seemingly insignificant amounts of power while they are off. Some phantom power loads can reach 25W or more – essentially the power draw of a low wattage incandescent light bulb except, in this case, the device might simply be waiting for you to turn it on. These small amounts of electricity add up as you add devices to your home and multiply their ‘vampire’ draw by days, months, and years. By plugging your electronics into powerstrips and turning the power off at the strip when you’re finished using your electronics you can save up to $100 a year.
- Reduce energy used to heat water.
By lowering the temperature setting of your water heater and installing low flow shower heads and aerated faucets, you can not only reduce your water heating load, but you can also lower your water bill. With this upgrade energy efficiency and water conservation go hand in hand.
- Maintain your Heater and Air Conditioner.
Hire a professional to conduct an annual check-up on your heater and air conditioner. Be sure to regularly clean or replace filters, check mechanical integrity, and duct sealing. Inefficient heating and AC units can cost you a lot of money. Conditioned air leaking into unconditioned attic and crawl spaces can cost you even more. Maintaining the integrity of your space conditioning equipment and the delivery system is one of the most overlooked energy saving tactics a homeowner can employ to save lots of energy and money. HelioPower has actually seen many homes and buildings where the HVAC system is heating or cooling crawl spaces because ducts and vents have deteriorated so dramatically.
- Install a Whole House Fan.
If you live in a climate zone where temperatures drop by 15 or more degrees after sunset, a whole house fan can dramatically lower your electric bills while keeping your home cool and comfortable on summer nights. These units are typically mounted in the attic and installed in ceilings through your home. When evening temperatures outside become comfortable, you can turn off your AC; crack a couple of windows; and turn on your whole house fan. The fan(s) will draw outside air in through the cracked windows (don’t open them wide or the effect is dampened), through your home, and flush all of the superheated air (often 130 degrees F) out of your attic vents. By cooling the attic down and exchanging hot air trapped in your house for fresh cool outside air, there’s no need to run the AC at night thereby dramatically lowering AC costs. How? Whole House Fans use just a fraction of the electricity required by an air conditioner. If you’re running your AC all night because your upstairs won’t cool down after a hot summer day, you should consider a Whole House Fan and the comfort, convenience, and savings that come along with it. In addition to the cost savings, improving air flow through a house or building can have dramatic benefits for occupants with breathing difficulties like asthma or COPD.