What we like about Housecall is their service.  It has been many months since our home inspection, and my wife and I still call them to ask questions.  They always take the time to talk with us and we never feel rushed.  This is our first home, and it is nice knowing you have someone you can call.  They deliver on their promise.        -  Mr. & Mrs. Pickard, San Diego

Blog Energy Conservation Saving Energy At Home
Saving Energy At Home
Energy Conservation
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Many people do not realize how easy it is to save energy at home. A few simple changes can result in a reduction in heating, cooling, and general energy costs. Most changes can be accomplished by homeowners, without the need hire contractors. Homeowners in search of ways to make their home more energy efficient can have an energy audit completed. This audit will provide energy saving solutions based on each specific home.
happy house
Consider the following reasons to transform your home into a more energy efficient living space:
  • Tax credits and other incentives may be available to those who make certain changes. In many cases, you will be rewarded for taking action that will save you money year after year.
  • The less power you use, the more money you will save. It really is as simple as that.
  • Energy efficiency is linked to maintaining a more comfortable temperature within the home.
  • Global warming may be reduced by using less energy. Many feel that global warming is the cause of climate change.
  • The process of producing power creates pollutants that can then find their way into our air, water, and soil.
Below are just a few simple ways to help you save energy at home.
 
Find more efficient ways to heat and cool your home. Heating and cooling may account for as much as half of all the electricity used in the home. These few adjustments may result in decreased electricity bills:
  • Make use of ceiling fans. Ceiling fans will reduce the temperature in the room, and use much less electricity than central air conditioning systems or window air conditioners.
  • Change the filters in air conditioning and heating units on a regular basis.
  • Pay attention to the thermostat setting. Adjustments can be made at night, as well as when no one is at home. By changing the setting by just one degree for an eight hour period each day, a reduction of as much as 2% of the electricity bill may be realized.
  • A programmable thermostat can be used to automatically adjust the temperature setting at certain times of the day or night. This will allow you to save money without even thinking about it. How much? By as much as $150 a year.
  • Installing a wood burning stove or pellet burning stove may completely eliminate the need to run gas or electric heat.
  • Closing curtains at night during the cooler months will help keep warm air in.
Switch to a tankless water heater. Standard water heaters account for lots of energy use as they attempt to keep water hot at all times. Demand water heaters will only heat water as needed, only needing to draw electricity at certain times. When hot water is needed, cold water will travel into the unit and be heated by either an electrical element or gas burner. These units provide hot water at any time, with no need to wait for water to heat up.
 
Say goodbye to incandescent lights. Approximately 11% of the home electricity bill is attributed to lighting. Incandescent lights us about 10% of the energy they draw to produce the actual light, while the rest simply produces heat. Compact fluorescent and LED lighting can reduce the lighting portion of the electricity bill by as much as 75%. Lighting controls may also be used to reduce the amount of time that lights remain on while not in use. These three facts may change the way you think about CLF and LED lights:
  • CFL light bulbs last about ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs, while using as much as 75% less energy.
  • LED lighting will last even longer than CFLs, and use even less energy.
  • Unlike CFLs, LED lights do not contain mercury, and contain no moving parts.
Seal and insulate when necessary. A properly sealed and insulated home will maintain a more comfortable temperature while being more energy efficient. Indoor air quality may also be improved by sealing off leaks. The following areas should be checked for leakage:
  • Around electrical outlets
  • Around pipes and wiring
  • Window or wall mounted A/C units
  • Attic entry hatches
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Door weatherstripping that is in poor condition
  • Floor baseboards
  • Around windows
  • Switch plates
Air leaks are particularly prominent in the attic. Attic repair and maintenance may need to be done in order to reduce electricity costs that are related to heating and cooling. These repairs and maintenance may include the following:
  • Check for any large holes. Should they be present, plug them. Common areas for leaks include where the walls meet the floor, around knee walls, and in dropped ceilings.
  • Seal small holes as well. Darkened insulation will tip you off as to where air may be coming in. These darker spots are a result of dusty air penetrating the insulation. During cold months, look for areas of frost. During warm months, look for water stains. Caulk or expanding foam may be used to close up any small holes.
  • Seal the attic access panel. This can be done using inexpensive weatherstripping. Fiberglass or foam board can be cut to size and glued to the back of the attic hatch in order to keep air out of the home.
Use water saving shower heads and toilets. Low flow shower heads and toilets use much less water than standard versions. Toilets alone may account for as much as 40% of the water usage in the home. When switching from a 3.5 gallon toilet to a 1.6 gallon model, the average family may save 12,000 gallons each year. Vacuum assisted and dual flush toilets are other options to consider.
 
Consider how you use electronics and appliances. These items account for approximately 20% of the electricity used in the home. These tips will help reduce the amount of energy used by appliances and electronics:
  • Refrigerators should be placed in an area that does not receive direct sunlight, and is not near a heat source such as the stove. Any element that delivers heat to the refrigerator will cause it to work longer in order to keep your food cool.
  • Turn your computer off when you are not using it. At the very least, turn the monitor off before walking away. Some studies claim that 3% of energy consumption in the US can be attributed to computers.
  • When the time comes to replace appliances or electronics, shop for new items that have the “Energy Star” label. This label means that the item is energy efficient. If the item you need will be plugged into an electrical socket, the chances are great that there will be at least one energy efficient version.
  • Unplug phone and computer chargers when they are not in use. These draw power even when they are not connected to any devices.
  • Should you own both a laptop and desktop computer, opt to use the laptop as often as possible. Laptops consume much less electricity.
Replace at least some electrical lighting with daylighting. Skylights are one of the most popular daylighting choices. Clerestory windows are as well. These windows are short and wide. Installation will be higher on the wall, where light can enter, yet direct sunlight that would heat up a room will be eliminated or reduced. Light tubes and light shelves can be used to direct natural light from one area into other areas of the home.
 
Check for air leaks around windows and doors. Air leaks around windows and doors will allow the warm or cool air that you want inside of your home to escape, while allowing the air you don't want to enter. This process must be stopped in order to reduce energy costs. Simple fixes include:
  • Sealing any window cracks or air leaking edges with caulk. Rope caulk works best for this task.
  • Weatherstripping is inexpensive and can be used around windows and doors. Additionally, door sweeps can be used to prevent air from coming and going from underneath the door.
  • Installing storm windows over single-paned glass windows will keep unwanted air from entering the home. It will also keep warm or cool air from your heating and cooling system inside the home.
  • Damaged windows should either be repaired or replaced.
Evaluate your cooking habits. Much electricity can be wasted while cooking. The following are the least wasteful methods:
  • Convection ovens use as much as 20% less electricity than a standard oven. These ovens cook food completely and evenly while maintaining a lower temperature.
  • Microwave when you can. Microwaves use 80% less electricity than your standard oven.
  • Use pan lids in order to increase the food temperature quickly.
  • Pressure cookers cook food quickly, reducing cooking time and energy usage.
  • When using your conventional oven, cook on the top rack. This is the hotter area.
Change your clothes washing habits. Always wash only full loads of clothes. Half loads are a waste of electricity. For clothing that is not severely soiled, consider using the warm or cold water settings instead of hot. Clean the dryer lint trap after every load. Trapped lint will force the dryer to work longer in order to dry the clothing. Wring out clothes prior to putting them into the dryer. Doing so will give the dryer a head start.
 
Those who take the time to implement these changes will certainly be rewarded with smaller monthly electricity bills. Many of these changes can easily be completed, and most are very affordable. Should you wish to know more about what areas of your home may be causing energy waste, contact a qualified home inspector. Once a home inspection is complete, you will immediately know which areas are in line for improvements or repairs.
 

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Darin Redding
Written on Friday, 10 December 2010 08:46 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Monday, 07 May 2012 21:48
 

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