How to Save Energy and Money without Being Uncomfortable in Your Home
There are two big reasons to reduce the amount of energy your home uses:
1) It’s good for your wallet.
2) It’s good for the environment.
However, as much as most people want to do those things, the question remains: How do you save energy without either freezing in Winter or roasting in Summer as you try to use your system less?
There are a plethora of solutions to this problem. But, it’s important to understand how your home uses energy before deciding on a course of action.
According to Energystar.gov, the biggest energy users in any home are the heating and air conditioning systems – your home HVAC. These two systems alone can use nearly half the energy consumed by your home. And since you’re likely not using both at the same time, that means each one uses that much energy, by itself. This can mean large heating bills in winter, and high electric bills in the summer. Which nobody wants.
In addition, if your systems are less efficient than they could be, that means your home is giving off a good bit of greenhouse gases – and we all know by now what that means. Nobody wants that, either.
So, follow the simple steps outlined below to use both your home’s energy and your money more efficiently, and be a better friend to the planet.
The Light and the Dark Sides
How you use your window blinds in each season can affect how hard your systems work. In summer, keeping blinds or curtains closed on the sunny side of the house can help keep out excessive heat, and require you to run your air conditioner just a little less.
On the flip side, in the winter, open those blinds and let the sun’s free energy help heat the interior of your house, making things a little easier on the heating system. Close the curtains or blinds on the shady side of the house to help keep warm air from escaping.
Leave the Thermostat Alone
Adjusting the thermostat frequently wastes a lot of energy. A programmable or smart thermostat allows you to preset temperature adjustments to happen at certain times. Ideally, your system will run less often at times when no one is home, or the family is sleeping. Using a programmable thermostat effectively can help you run your systems more efficiently and save money.
Check for Escape Routes
One of the greatest sources of wasted energy in your home is leaky ducts, which can send expensive, conditioned air into less important places like the crawlspace or attic. That’s clearly the opposite of efficient. A home HVAC services provider like All American Heating can inspect your home for leaky ducts, identify those points where air is escaping and can help you seal these problem spots with a product like Aeroseal® Duct Sealing from the Inside. Aeroseal can help reduce energy costs by as much as 40% by closing leaks in your home’s ductwork.
In addition to your ductwork, you’ll want to make sure you’re not losing air through drafty doors, windows, or fireplaces. It’s pretty easy to seal up these points with caulk or weatherstripping, which will help make your home airtight without professional intervention. Finally, having the proper amount of insulation can go a long way toward reducing heating and cooling costs. Having insulation only in the attic is like putting beer in a cooler that only has ice on top – it’s not effective.
Extra tip: If you run your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans too much, this can express conditioned air to the outside, and make your system work harder.
Stay on Top of Things
HVAC maintenance is probably the biggest – and most commonly ignored – factor in saving money and energy at home. Keeping your heating and cooling systems clean and running smoothly can make a huge difference in efficiency and heating bills. Have a heating and cooling expert perform seasonal tune-ups in Spring and Fall, and these services should cover the following:
- Test system controls including the thermostat for proper function
- Cleaning out the inside of the furnace and other components
- Cleaning vents and air ducts and inspect for leaks (this is a separate service, that should be performed annually)
- Clean A/C condenser and evaporator coils after summer use
- Lubricate all moving parts
- Inspecting/clearing/replacing the condensate drain
- Making sure the outdoor unit is clear of leaves and debris
Additionally, if your system is not functioning properly, it’s probably also wasting energy, costing you money, and possibly posing health and safety risks to your home and family. Be sure to have needed repairs made promptly to avoid more costly issues later on, and to ensure the welfare of your house and loved ones.
Replace outdated or malfunctioning systems
If your systems are ten years or older, chances are, they are reaching the end of life. There is also probably newer technology available that will better serve your home and family. Certainly, anything that uses Freon or Puron refrigerants should be replaced with newer, safer, more environmentally sound systems. Additionally, more modern furnaces with higher AFUE ratings and heat pumps with higher HSPF ratings are ideal.
ENERGY Star-certified models use more energy-efficient technology, such as variable speed compressors. A qualified heating and cooling expert can help you determine the right solution – and the right size – for your home.
Keep the Airways Clear
It’s important to make sure your vents and ducts are not blocked by rugs or furniture, and clear of dust and debris. Your systems depend on steady airflow to run efficiently.
Prep for Seasonal Weather Extremes
Making sure your systems are prepped for hot summer days or cold winter nights is key to keeping your energy usage and costs down. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your home is ready to handle weather extremes:
- Clean or change your system’s air filter every 30 days to maintain efficiency and air quality. A clogged filter hampers airflow, which means your system has to work harder and use more energy.
- In addition to minimizing air loss, sealing leaks in vents will also help even out the temperatures in your home.
- Again, making sure the edges of windows and doors are effectively sealed will reduce loss of conditioned air and help your system perform more efficiently.
Installing a programmable or smart thermostat can economize your home energy use by running heating and cooling systems the most when your home is occupied and active, less when no one is home or everyone is asleep and can economize your energy use. The ideal, most efficient temperature settings are considered 68 degrees when the home is occupied and everyone is awake, and 7 to 10 degrees cooler when gone or sleeping.
Be a Fan of Fans
- Many consumers add ceiling fans to keep air circulating and assist the HVAC system in heating or cooling a home. But are you using them properly? Here are some tips to help make your ceiling fans more effective.
- Adjust the direction of your ceiling fan in Spring and Fall. In warmer months, the ceiling fan should blow air downwards (usually clockwise.) While running fans in the summer, you can actually raise the thermostat temperature a few degrees. Ceiling fans alone do not cool the air, but they will help circulate the cooler air, putting less strain on the air conditioning system.
- In the Fall, change the direction so that warm air is lifted by a fan running counter-clockwise. Also run the fan on low in winter when it is running counter-clockwise. This helps keep the room temperature steady, requiring the heating system to run less.
- Turn off your ceiling fans when you are not at home, or not in a room with a fan. This will help reduce energy costs.
Following these simple steps to take care of your home HVAC systems will help keep your energy use and your energy costs in line. And, All American Heating offers a variety of HVAC services to help keep you and your family safe and comfortable. We are also available 24/7 for emergency service. Call 970-453-6640 to schedule your seasonal maintenance today or visit us at allamericanheating.com for more information.