No matter how many energy-saving tips you’ve read, there are bound to be a few you’ve overlooked. As our society’s awareness of the importance of energy conservation grows and technology develops, we find more and more ways to trim energy use.
If you’re trying to get a handle on high energy bills in your Savannah area home, make sure you’re using every energy-saving technique you can.
Small Changes Make a Big Difference
Some of the most effective energy-saving tips are also among the easiest to get started with. A few small changes in your habits could add up to savings you’ll notice on your next electric and fuel bills.
Let the sunshine in – In winter, when the sun is out, take advantage by opening the curtains on the south and west sides of your home. After sunset, close the curtains to keep the chill out.
Throw down some rugs – If you have bare floors, lay several large rugs to retain heat in the room. Electric heated throw rugs are another option for keeping rooms warm efficiently.
Care for your filters – Leaving a dirty air filter in your heating and cooling system knocks down the system’s efficiency by 5 to 15 percent. It also causes wear on your components and degrades indoor air quality. For optimal energy efficiency and fewer maintenance issues, check your filter monthly and change it if you find a buildup of dust.
Use your ceiling fans – It may be among the less common energy-saving tips, but using your ceiling fans can help you cut your heating bills. To benefit from a ceiling fan in winter, flip the switch on the fan’s motor housing to set the blades spinning clockwise as viewed from below. Then turn the fan on to the lowest speed. Spinning clockwise, the fan prevents warm air from pooling at the ceiling, pushing it back down where you can enjoy it. Just don’t forget to resent the fan blades to counter-clockwise when spring returns.
Set your thermostat carefully – Every degree you turn down your furnace thermostat for at least eight hours a day could save you around 2 percent on your heating bill. Aim to keep your thermostat at around 68 degrees when you’re home and awake. When you leave or go to bed, lower the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees. To make the job easy, install a programmable thermostat so you can schedule in the temperatures you want for every part of the day.
Heat and cool only where needed – If you have unused rooms, keep the doors closed and close the air registers or turn off the radiators. Keep at least 80 percent of your registers open, though, to avoid causing pressure imbalances that can impair your system’s efficiency. Have rooms that never reach a comfortable temperature? Consider having HVAC system zoning installed so you won’t have to overheat your whole house just to get one area comfortable.
Don’t block the heat – Make sure no drapes or furniture are blocking heat from your air vents or radiators. Avoid hanging clothes on your radiators because this interferes with the flow of heat.
Save in the kitchen – Set your refrigerator thermostat to between 30 and 42 degrees. Use the “energy saver” switch if available. Aim to keep your refrigerator at least two-thirds full to maximize the appliance’s efficiency.
Keep Your Heating System in Top Form
No matter what your furnace’s efficiency rating, the system can reach its potential only if correctly maintained. Beyond changing your filter, there are a few things you’ll need to do to keep your system efficient.
Clean your registers – Dirty air registers and vents not only release debris into your home’s air, they also interfere with the system’s performance. If yours are looking a little grimy, remove the covers and wipe them down, then use a vacuum with a hose attachment to suck out dust and dirt inside the duct opening.
Optimize your ducts – Ducts with air leaks or insufficient insulation don’t carry conditioned air efficiently, which means they reduce your heating and cooling system’s overall efficiency. Check the accessible parts of your ducts to make sure any duct connections are sealed with mastic or metal tape and the ducts are protected with duct wrap or fiberglass batt insulation.
Check your furnace combustion chamber – Because this area is where the fuel is ignited and burned for heat, it can develop a buildup of soot. Over time, this buildup can damage the combustion chamber’s walls and reduce the furnace’s fuel efficiency. You can leave the cleaning up to a professional, but if you want to do the job yourself, after turning off the furnace, remove the combustion chamber’s cover, vacuum the inside with a wet-vac, then wipe off any remaining soot with a soft cloth.
Schedule annual service – The recommendation to schedule professional annual checkups for your system is one of those energy-saving tips that benefit both your bank balance and your safety. Getting your system tuned up before the heating season could save you 3 to 10 percent on heating. During the checkup, your heating and cooling technician will inspect the electrical connections, motor, heat exchanger, burner, fuel lines, condensate lines and other critical parts of your system to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Don’t forget your fireplace – Keeping the inside of your fireplace and flue vent clean improves your fireplace’s efficiency. Fireplace dampers warp over time, so make sure yours still fits tightly. If you need a replacement, consider installing a chimney cap damper for the best seal possible. Remember to close the damper when you’re not using the fireplace. Most importantly, have your fireplace professionally inspected before you start using it.
Ease the Load on Your System
In winter, your heated home loses warmth in two ways: air leaks and radiant heat loss. In summer, outdoor heat enters your home the same way. By sealing the leaks and adding insulation to slow heat transfer, you could cut your year-round heating and cooling costs by as much as 20 percent. These energy-saving tips will also remedy your problems with chilly drafts and cold walls.
Patch up your air leaks – Windows, doors, appliance vents, entrances for plumbing, electrical and other utility lines, and many other parts of your home are likely to have small cracks around them. These cracks let conditioned air escape while drawing in unconditioned outdoor air and contaminants. Just sealing these leaks could reduce your energy bills by 10 percent.
Weatherstripping should be used to block leak around areas designed to move, such as the tracks of double-hung windows and the tops and sides of doors. Leaks around non-movable areas, such as appliance vents, can be sealed with caulk. For a little extra defense against drafts, add door sweeps to the bottoms of your exterior doors and install covers on keyholes.
Boost you insulation – Insulation reduces the rate at which warmth from your heated home radiates out through your roof and walls. In summer, it keeps the sun’s heat outside.
Your attic is the first place to check your insulation levels. If you can see the attic floor joists through the insulation, adding more almost certainly will lower your energy bills. Assuming you already have at least 3 inches in place, install an additional R25 to R38 layer of insulation. That’s around 9 inches of fiberglass batt insulation.
Take time for an energy audit – During a professional energy audit, a technician will bring in equipment designed to measure air leakage and heat transfer. The resulting data will show you exactly where you should seal and add insulation for the greatest energy savings. The technician can provide even more energy-saving tips by evaluating your appliances, lighting and other energy uses.
Invest in a Little Home Improvement
Air sealing and adding insulation aren’t the only energy-saving tips for upgrading your home. While some others take a little more investment of time, they also pay off over the long term.
Protect your windows – In addition to hanging drapes, install storm windows on your single-pane windows to hold in more warmth during winter. Look for models with low-emissivity (low-e) coatings, which are 10 to 15 percent more efficient at preventing heat loss than windows that don’t have this coating. For a budget-friendly alternative, cover your windows with heavy plastic sheeting and tape down the edges.
Upgrade your lighting – Winter’s short days mean you’ll be using your lights a lot, so you’ll want them to be as efficient as possible. Consider switching to CFLs or LED bulbs for indoor lighting and halogen bulbs for outdoor lighting. Planning to decorate your home for the holidays? You can save energy by choosing LED holiday lights instead of traditional incandescent ones.
Install low-flow fixtures – Low-flow faucets and shower heads reduce your water usage by around 30 percent while providing the same level of comfort. By using less hot water, you’ll spend less on water heating.
Could you use some help making these energy-saving tips work for your home? Then contact us at Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning in the Savannah, Garden City and Tremont Park areas.
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