Making Energy Improvements for Spring
With spring finally here and the memory of exorbitant heating bills still fresh in your mind, it’s time to work on improving your energy efficiency and reducing those energy bills. There are three major ways to accomplish this: minimizing your usage, minimizing waste, and making use of external free energy sources.
Minimizing usage means reducing the amount of power you need to do the same amount of work. You can start on that by doing simple things like getting your ductwork and air filters cleaned out, your heater and air conditioner serviced, or just by installing more efficient light bulbs.
If you’ve already done the small stuff you can go much further by installing motion activated lights and replacing any outdated energy hogs like old air conditioners, computers, or televisions. If you want to go all out you can invest in automatic kill switches that will disconnect power from electrical appliances that are not currently in use. This can greatly reduce the amount of electricity you use because things like your TV or computer require a lot of energy just to be in standby mode.
Minimizing waste is all about making sure that the work that the energy you use isn’t wasted. The biggest energy sink in your house is your house itself. Poor insulation can cost a lot of money when it’s especially hot or cold outside. Improving home insulation is always worth it, not only because it makes a home much less drafty and uncomfortable, but also because it pays for itself within a few years by drastically reducing costs. There’s also a federal income tax credit that you can take advantage of to sweeten the deal.
Another huge loss of energy is in your kitchen. If you’re still using an old stovetop with metal coils, you’re dealing with some incredibly inefficient heat transfer and just about anything newer will make a big difference.
Using External Sources
Something that’s often ignored in modern society is nature, which is a shame because there are a variety of ways we can use it to our advantage even from the comfort of our own home. During the winter, large windows (as long as they’re quality double panes so that they hold in heat) can help to keep your house warm by letting in warm sunlight. Pull back the curtains during the day and shut everything up tight at night to hold in the warmth and make it easier on your heater.
In the summer open up your windows at night to let the cool air in, and close the curtains to keep the sunlight out during the day. Another excellent insulator for the summer is live plants. Planting trees around your house, or planting ivy and allowing it to grow on your walls helps to cool your house in two ways; by absorbing sunlight directly, and by evaporating water out of the leaves through transpiration. That means that air all around your house will not only be shaded, but also subject to evaporative cooling, which can significantly reduce the stress on your cooling system.
Justin Wall is an HVAC technician with decades of experience and an enthusiastic energy efficiency nut. He writes for Griffith Energy Services about heating maintenance and air conditioning services.