Five Tips to Save Electricity in Your Home
Here are five tips to help save electricity. You’ll not only save money on energy bills, you’ll also be reducing your carbon imprint on the planet:
1. Light Bulbs
Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison did not invent the incandescent light bulb, but he did perfect it. His engineering feat has turned out to be one of the most important inventions of our time. With it, we turn night into day. The incandescent light bulb evolved over the years but could never escape the physics it is based upon. Specifically, these light bulbs give off heat in significant quantities. Today, modern fluorescent light bulbs use a fraction of the electrical energy that incandescents use and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) use even less than fluorescent light bulbs If you are still using incandescent light bulbs, replace them with fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
2. Building Envelope Sealing
Sealing your home air-tight is one of the most critical steps to take in order to make your home more energy-efficient. Homeowners can feel many air leaks like those around windows and doors, but holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are much harder to find. Having your home professionally sealed to avoid leaks will have a great impact on improving the comfort within your home; not to mention reducing utility bills.
For those concerned about sealing their house too tightly, you have a valid concern. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality within your home. It takes state-of-the art equipment operated by a trained technician to identify areas of air infiltration and energy loss. These areas must be detected, sealed, and your home’s leakage re-measured. If your home is too tight, it will be very energy efficient but could leave you with poor indoor air quality. A trained technician will make sure you have the correct balance between building tightness and proper indoor air quality.
3. Insulation in Attic, Floor, and Walls
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. The only way to stop that is to put something between the hot and cold zones. That by definition is insulation. Insulation insulates. The recommended level of insulation, properly installed, is your primary defense against heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. If your home is not properly insulated, your attic and walls are leaking money. There are several common types of insulation; fiberglass, cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation or radiant barrier is another insulating product which can help save energy in our hot, sunny climate.
The R-value is the performance measure of insulation. It measures its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So, it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance.
4. Appliance Efficiency
The biggest appliance in your home is the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. The most commonly used measure of the efficiency of your residential HVAC system is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER). As of January 2006, an HVAC system must have a SEER of at least 13 to be sold in the United States. Higher efficiency systems have a SEER of up to 21.
Every HVAC system needs yearly maintenance and if it’s more than ten years old, upgraded with a unit that has earned the Energy Star. Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with an Energy Star qualified HVAC system can cut your annual energy bill by hundreds of dollars.
Even if you have an Energy Star HVAC system, ninety percent of all homes lose conditioned air through leaking ductwork. That’s money leaking out of your pocket. Poorly installed ductwork can increase your utility bills by up to thirty percent. Not only does leaking ductwork reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system, it can also release dust, allergens and other pollutants into the air you breathe. Every home needs to have a trained professional do a complete inspection, repair and sealing of leaking HVAC ductwork.
Sunshine on windows is the number one source of heat into your home. The more windows your home has, the more susceptible it is to heat and UV rays. Sun screens, also known as sun shades, can reduce the amount of heat on your windows. Sun screens are made of a tightly woven mesh that blocks out heat and UV rays while still allowing you to see through to the outside. The tighter the weave, the better it is in blocking out heat but it also reduces outside visibility. Sun screens are one of the most cost effective ways to reduce your monthly utility bill and increase indoor comfort.
If your home’s windows are single pane, you may want to consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR qualified windows. These are double-pane, sealed-at-the-edges, insulated windows that can lower household energy bills by 7-15 percent. Replacing windows can be an expensive option. A trained technician can show you what your return on investment (ROI) will be for sun screens versus new windows.