Due to climbing energy costs, reducing energy consumption has become an immediate priority for many homeowners. There are a number of things homeowners can do to make significant reductions in their energy consumption without sacrificing comforts. While there is always the option to implement energy saving strategies during a remodeling job, it is possible to make immediate changes without spending a whole lot of money. Here are some tips and strategies to help cut your energy consumption and costs.
Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs. This single and simple change alone could reduce the energy consumed to light your home by about 70%.
Check your home for air leaks. Areas near doors and windows are notorious for air leaks. A simple weekend job of caulking can seal most leaks. A storm door for the main entrance door and any other door that opens directly to the outside can also have a huge impact. Similarly, installing door sweeps prevents cold air from coming in and warm air from escaping.
Give your heaters and air conditioners a break on pleasant spring and fall days by opening windows. You will not only save energy costs, but this will allow you to air-out your house with some fresh air. Also consider using window films.
Get your heating and cooling equipment serviced annually. Replacing filters regularly is not only good for indoor air quality, but it also contributes to reducing energy costs.
Check for holes and tears in your ducts and if you find any, seal them with mastic or metal foil tape.
Program your thermostats to reduce the heating and cooling requirements of floors that are not used much during days or nights. Set your thermostats to 78 degrees in summer (80 – 83 if you are away) and 68 degrees in winter (65 at night).
Using drapes in extremely sunny rooms in summer will help you keep the house cooler by retaining cold air longer, which means the air conditioner doesn't have to burn more energy to maintain the desired temperature.
Check the insulation in the attic. A properly insulated attic will keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The attic must also have proper ventilation to allow natural airflow, which keeps the roof deck cool and dry. An attic vent fan can be used for this purpose. According to the U.S. Depart of Energy (DOE), homeowners can save up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs by ensuring their homes are properly insulated.
Many appliances and electronics consume electricity even they are not being used. Such phantom loads can be avoided by unplugging toasters, coffee makers, computer monitors, TVs and other home electronics. To avoid the nuisance of unplugging and plugging daily, consider hooking these devices into power strips. You’ll be able to cut off power to several devices at once by flipping the off switch on the power strip.
If you plan to replace your old appliances, buy ones with high Energy Star ratings. These use less electricity and water. For example, front-loading washers use 50-70 percent less energy and 30-60 percent less water than traditional top-loading washers. The savings from these efficient appliances will quickly become noticeable.
Adopting newer technologies can also contribute to energy savings. Solar thermal water heating is gaining momentum. Similarly, if you have a huge backyard you may look into wind generated electricity by installing small windmills. The early adopters are helping in driving down the costs of many of these alternate energy sources.
Many federal and state tax credits and rebates are available for replacing your old appliances with newer, more efficient ones. One such incentive is the Get Energy Smart Retrofit Program, which is a result of collaboration between the U.S. DOE and Florida’s Sarasota County. It is important to know that many of these initiatives have limited funds and they are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
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