Home Energy Efficiency Tips for For All Seasons!

Here are a couple of home energy efficiency tips for your home not just for winter or summer but for all year-round! This should help you save a lot from your utility bills. These tips will not also help you save money but you are actually saving energy and doing your part for the environment!

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Winter

  • Set your thermostat to 68°F during the day and 60°F at night. This should allow you to save at least 3% on your heating costs during winter.
  • Install a window kit to the inside of your windows so that no cold air will come in and no warm air will go out.
  • Change the filters of your heating system at a regular basis. A well-maintained heating system can save money and increase the comfort level in your home.
  • Make sure your furnace is airtight because you may be losing more heat than you are generating.
  • Check all the ductwork in your home for any air leakage if you want to save up to 10% on your heating costs. If you found any leakage be sure to use a silver metal duct tape to seal it – or better yet, call a professional to do it.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips for Summer

  • Check the air filter of your AC unit on a regular basis. A clean air filter will improve the unit’s efficiency and save both energy and money.
  • Your thermostat should be set to a comfortable level (~76°F.)  76°F should be comfortable enough for you and your family as it is the most energy-efficient indoor temperature.
  • Get a professional to look at your AC unit just to make sure that it works properly and there are no issues with it.
  • Don’t forget to ensure your windows and the doors are closed every time you turn on your AC.
  • Make sure that your TV, lamps or other appliances are not close to your AC thermostat as it may cause for your air conditioner to cool the room more than is needed.
  • Be sure that there are no object or furniture blocking the ducts and fans of your cooling system so the cool air can circulate freely and properly.

Home Energy Efficiency Tips All Year-Round

  • Did you know that a water heater has the third highest energy expense in most homes? If you have a water heater at home be sure to set its water temperature to 130°F instead of 140°F to save a couple of dollars each month.
  • Use a microwave to cook meals instead of an oven to save energy. This not only saves energy from the use of the oven itself but in cooling the house after baking.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water and you will save at least $50 per year.
  • Another way to save energy in the laundry room is to put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wet clothes. The towel will absorb dampness and reduce drying time, saving energy and money.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent and/or LED bulbs. Besides saving energy, you will also save money in the long run, since the life spans of these bulbs is substantially longer.
  • If you have a crawl space, inspect it regularly to ensure that the insulation inside is dry. When insulation gets wet, it isn’t as effective. Be sure to find the source of the moisture and replace any damaged insulation.
  • Vacuum the coils on your refrigerator at least every three months. The dirt buildup makes the refrigerator work harder to keep the contents cool and therefore uses more energy.

HVAC Warning Signs

Most people don’t think about their HVAC unit until its broken, which is too late.  Here are five helpful warning signs that your unit may need servicing by a certified heating and cooling technician.

It’s Not Cooling:

The most obvious sign that your HVAC needs help is that it’s not cooling. Your HVAC technician will check for the three primary causes:

Evaporation coils: They may be clogged, if there clogged with dirt the system will not cool properly and you’ll be hot.

Leaking refrigerant: Your technician will have to run a test to locate the source of the leak and fix it for your system to start operating at its full capacity.

Leaking ducts: If you have a leak in your duct, the cold air that should be keeping you cool is spilling into the attic, between walls, or outside your home.

Making Weird Noises:  

The cause of unwelcome noises could be a loose fan, screws that need to be tightened, clogged coil fins or parts that need lubrication.

Your Bill Goes Suddenly Up:

Your electric costs should be about the same this month as they were in the same month a year ago. If you notice a big change, chances are something is wrong with your HVAC system.

It Smells funny:

If you notice a foul odor coming from your vents, you could be experiencing a problem which results from bacterial growth within the HVAC system vents.

It’s Leaking:

If you notice any discolored circles on your ceiling, dripping or puddling near your unit, you have a problem. The cause for the leak could be an overflowing pan, clogged filter or backed up condensate line.

If you notice any of these problems with your system, it’s time to call a certified technician.

Summer Savings

Simple ways to save money on your summer cooling bill:

You can save money by setting your thermostat a few degrees higher during the warmer months. Basically, if you normally set it at 72 try setting it at 74 in the summer months. This small adjustment could save you up to 10% percent on your cooling bill.

Go out, enjoy the warm weather by visiting a park, the beach or just relaxing in your back yard. When you come back into the house after being outside you won’t notice that the thermostat is set a few degrees higher.

Change that filter! You should change your air filters every 30 days and schedule a yearly AC unit maintenance call.

During extra sunny days, you should close all of your blinds/shades. Especially on days when your not home or away on vacation. This will help reduce the temperature in your home.  If you don’t have blinds, use a sheet to cover the window.

If you have a garage encourage everyone to enter and exit through the garage door as it will reduce the amount of hot air entering the house directly from outdoors.  If you have kids like I do who are constantly coming in and going out, put a limit on how many times they can go out and come back in.

If you have ceiling fans, use them, a lot! Make sure they are turning in the right direction though. Turn the fan on and stand below it, if you can feel the breeze, your in business.

Just remember if you have family pets inside your home that anything over 76 is not suitable for them.

Save Money and Stay Cool

Summer is here and the temperatures across the country have started to rise. For some of us, it is a welcomed change from the cold winter. However,  it also means that expensive cooling bills are on their way and the fights over the thermostat in your home and for some our workplaces.

When it comes to controlling temperature, even small adjustments can have big impacts. For every degree, you adjust your thermostat to, results in about a 3% savings. If your cooling bill is $200 during the hot summer months, that equals about $6 per degree per month. The key to adjusting your thermostat is to still keep the space feeling comfortable. This is where the use of air circulating fans come into play.

Don’t believe the myth that standard air circulating fans do not cool the air and that the only way air can be cooled is with some type of refrigerant added to the mix. What air circulators do is make your body feel like it is being cooled. Think of it this way. Imagine you’re outside on a hot day and there’s no breeze at all, it’s going to feel really hot. But if there’s a slight breeze, it will feel cooler. The air temperature has not changed, but the moving air passing across your skin gives your body the feeling that it’s cooler. There are scientific formulas that could explain this, but for this example, we need to agree that air blowing across our skin makes us feel cooler. By creating an artificial breeze in our homes or workplaces, you can set the temperature higher but still feel comfortable.

An added benefit of using fans is that they distribute the cool air from an air conditioner vent evenly throughout the cooled space. Almost all homes and workplaces have areas that are normally warmer than the other areas. Using fans will distribute the cool air more evenly from room to room within the space. This will take stress off your HVAC unit so that you will not have to run it longer than it needs to just to get that one area cool enough to feel comfortable.

Air circulating fans use electricity, so how much do I really save? Fans do use electricity, however, the amount it takes to operate a fan compared to an air conditioner is a great deal less. An average fan uses about 40 watts. A typical household air conditioner will use between 1000 watts for a single window unit that can cool 1 or 2 rooms to 3500 watts for a central air unit. If using an air circulating fan allows you to raise the thermostat 3 to 4 or more degrees that could mean your air conditioning units operates about an hour less a day, which can add up over the course of a month or over a hot summer.

Preparing an Outdoor AC Unit

An outside air conditioning unit, often referred to as an HVAC unit, is a lifesaver during hot summer months. During the winter, you may want to winterize the unit to protect it against cold weather, snow and ice. Winterizing the unit also protects it against rust damage. A few protective measures can keep the air conditioning unit in your real estate investment in top working condition.

Find the air conditioning circuit near your unit. Usually, it has a plastic or metal lid that covers the electrical circuit. Open the lid and flip the switch to turn the unit off. This prevents the unit from turning on during an unusually warm winter day, keeping water out of the unit that could potentially freeze.

Wash the air conditioning unit with a hose to remove bird droppings, dead bugs, dirt and dust. Remove leaves, small branches and grass clippings from the unit. Allow the unit to dry completely.

Install foam pipe covers around exterior exposed pipes. Cut the foam to fit the length and diameter of the pipe. The foam covers insulate the pipes and protect them against freezing temperatures. Wrap duct tape around the foam covers to hold them in place.

Cover the HVAC unit with a plastic or vinyl cover. Choose a cover that is waterproof. Some manufacturers make covers that are specifically designed for air conditioners, but you can use any plastic or vinyl covering that fits over the unit.

Wrap vinyl ropes or bungee cords around the air conditioning cover to keep it secure. Make sure the cover is wrapped tightly so it doesn’t blow away in strong winds.

Check your air conditioner once a week to make sure the cover is secure. Brush water, snow and ice off the unit. Remove twigs, pinecones and leaves from the cover.