Reducing Your Energy Costs

By in Green Talk on 02 April 2008

Improving our energy use not only helps you save money on your energy bills, but is also a great way to help the environment.

SAVING MONEY

The average household spends approximately $1,900 on energy bills per year – that’s a little over $150 per month. Here are a few energy-saving habits you can adopt to lower those bills.

Get unplugged. If you don’t use it often, leave it unplugged. For example, your cell phone charger can remain unplugged if you are not charging your cell phone. I know it’s much more convenient to be able to just hook your cell phone to the charger, but honestly, how much more time are you saving by plugging the charger to the socket and then hooking your phone to the charger?

Lights out please. “Duh,” you might say. But this is so easy to forget. Just try to remember to flick that switch downwards when leaving a room.

Use home appliances wisely and efficiently. Always wash a full load and wash with cold water. Clean the filters on your dryers. They really do dry your clothes in shorter period of time. Also, try not to mix your wet jeans with your t-shirts. Like washing your whites with whites and darks with darks, try to dry your heavy clothes with heavy clothes. I always line dry the heavier clothes.

Bundle up or strip down. Do you really need to have your AC on, and have it on ALL DAY? Adjust your thermostat a few degrees and put on a pair of shorts instead. Or put on a sweater in the colder days instead of turning on your heater.

Let your computer hibernate. I know many of you leave your computers on all day and all night. It’s difficult to surf the web while you are sleeping so why not configure your computer to hibernate after 30 minutes of inactivity? Also turn your monitor off before going to bed.

Replace your light bulbs. Most people are still using those old Thomas Edison light bulbs. Replace those with the compact fluorescent bulb. Not only do they save you $30 during it’s lifetime, but it also lasts longer than the regular bulbs.

Go Energy-Star. energystar1.jpg Appliances labeled with the ENERGY STAR label use 20 to 40 percent less energy. Some companies even offer rebates or free pick of your old appliances if you purchase an ENERGY STAR item. When purchasing your next appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR logo. Or, if you would like to get specific recommendations for your home or office, you can have an ENERGY STAR advisor contact you.

THE ENVIRONMENT

Being more energy efficient not only save you money on your energy bills, but it also helps the environment. Reducing our energy consumption means we are burning less fossil fuels, which is a major contributor of smog, acid rain, and global warming. Therefore, being more energy efficient means we are generating less pollution.

Our next generation is counting on us.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

    Imagine leaving a window open all winter long — the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

    These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in — costing you higher heating bills.

    Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

    But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home — the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Attic Stairs

    When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.

    Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.

    Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door — do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

    Whole House Fans and AC Returns

    Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.

    If attic access is inconvenient, or for AC returns, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter and AC return. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed.

    Fireplaces

    Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers.

    Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent.

    A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

    Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? Hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when warm heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

    Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

    In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.

    Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.

    An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

    If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

    Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit http://www.batticdoor.com

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