Smart Tips on Conserving Energy, and Reducing Home Energy Costs, that Won’t Break the Bank
Without having to upgrade all your appliances (although we’ll talk about the benefits of doing that too), there are some very straightforward steps you can take to conserve energy, make your home more energy efficient and reduce costs.
- Keep Your Vents Open and Clean
If you have central air conditioning and or heat, check the vents in your home. Some may be closed or even blocked. It’s a myth that closing vents can reduce energy consumption by preventing the need to cool or heat a room; it has the opposite effect and can drive up costs.
- Clean Air Filters
The filters in your system that help prevent dirt, dust, and other pollutants from blowing into your home need to be replaced regularly. A dirty air filter reduces airflow, which means the HVAC unit Is operating inefficiently. New, clean filters will assist your HVAC in working to its fullest capability. Once every season the air filters should be replaced with new ones. By replacing a dirty filter, it can help lower HVAC energy consumption by as much as 15%.
- Promote Better Airflow
Most ceiling fans have a switch on the side of the motor or in some cases a button on the remote that will reverse the direction the blades spin. Why is that? Well, the clockwise rotation sends the air blowing down, and the counterclockwise rotation sends the air upward. During the spring and summer months, you want the air to blow down because the downward motion spreads coolness. In contrast, the counterclockwise, upward rotation can help warm air circulate throughout your home during the colder months, keeping the air moving and preventing it from collecting near the top of the ceiling.
- Service Oil Furnaces
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that properly serviced boilers and furnaces will burn less fuel, thus reducing heating costs by up to 10 percent. Home heating oil consumers can save on winter heating costs by tuning up their heating oil systems. Contact HOP Energy to schedule your annual tune-up. To keep your monthly bill even more manageable, consider enrolling in a budget payment plan with automatic delivery from HOP Energy. Today’s oil furnaces are highly efficient, and according to the heating oil industry’s Energy Communications Council (ECC), an annual tune-up keeps existing equipment functioning at top performance.
- Insulate your Pipes
Insulating hot water supply pipes in exposed areas of your home can save money on energy costs by preventing heat radiating away from the pipes—it could even allow you to lower the temperature setting on your water heater helping conserve energy.
- Clean and Seal Ducts
Studies have shown that up to 30% of the air that moves through HVAC ducts gets lost through leaks. Another issue is that over time, air traveling through the ducts can accumulate dirt and dust particles. Where there is build up of dust and other pollutants in ductwork it can restrict the flow of air coming from the furnace and air conditioner which means your system has to work harder to heat or cool your home. All of this results in a decreased level of efficiency. A clean system will operate at peak efficiency and provide the most cost-effective performance. HOP Energy provides duct cleaning services, A/C tune-ups, heating and cooling system servicing and repairs. Consider HOP Energy for all your HVAC service needs. Whether you’re interested in a service contract or need to schedule some preventive maintenance work—your system will be in good hands with HOP Energy’s trained, licensed and insured technicians.
- Take Advantage of the Sunshine
In the colder months, when direct sunlight hits a window, there is a slight warming effect, even on a very cold day. When those days occur, open up the curtains or blinds on the east side of your home in the morning and on the west side in the evening to take advantage of the natural warmth. When there isn’t direct sunlight on a window, keep your window coverings closed for added insulation, both in cooler and hot months.
- Switch to Cold Water for Laundry
Did you know that 90% of the energy your washing machine uses goes to heat the water? Consider switching to cold water for some loads to cut down on costs. With the average US household doing over 400 loads a year, cost savings can add up by making the switch. Always use a good detergent and check the size of your loads—avoid overstuffing to allow optimal water and detergent agitation to optimize cleaning power. For dryers, a general rule of thumb is to leave about 25% of the drier unfilled so there is room for movement, even more if you are drying large items. Some power companies will offer discounted rates during non-peak hours. Check with your local power provider and consider doing your largest loads after 8 pm.
- Reduce Heat
Dishwashers require hot water for the cleaning process, but you don’t necessarily require heat to dry your dishes. Most machines employ a heated dry method that helps prevent water spots on dishes. However, using a rinsing agent like Jet Dry will do the same thing without having to use the dry cycle. Consider disabling the heated dry cycle and using a rinse agent instead, if you’re not already doing so.
- Power Down Your Electronics
Did you know that some electronic devices like computers sip the power even when they are on standby mode? Known as phantom load, or leaking electricity, electric power is still consumed by electronics and electrical appliances if they are not unplugged, even when switched off or in standby mode. To avoid this, use power strips and then turn off the power strip (rather than unplugging electronics individually). Smart power strips, also known as advanced power strips, can be programmed to turn off at a specified time, during a period of inactivity, through remote switches, or triggered by the status of a “master” device.
- Weatherize Your Home
Weatherizing, or sealing air leaks around your home, is a great way to conserve energy and reduce monthly bills. The most common sources of air leaks into your home are vents [covered above], windows, and doors. To prevent these leaks, you should ensure that there are no cracks or openings between the wall and vent, window, or doorframe. Air leaking out of your home is most often from the home interior into your attic through small openings. Whether it is through ducts, light fixtures, or the attic hatch, hot air will rise and escape through small openings. As the natural flow of heat is from warmer to cooler areas, these small openings can make your heating bill even higher if your attic is not sufficiently insulated. To reap the full amount of savings from weatherization, you should consider fully insulating your home.
Larger Investments that Pay for Themselves
The following energy conservation suggestions will require a higher upfront investment, but the return on your investment will come in the form of cost savings over the long run.
- Install an Attic Fan
Attics being at the top of the house trap hot moist air – especially in summer. That trapped hot air can warm the house and counteract the effect of your air conditioning. There’s also the potential for trapped, hot air to damage the attic floors, ceilings, and walls below. An attic fan extracts and removes the hot, stagnant air from the attic and your home, helping to keep the house cooler and remove potentially harmful pollutants.
- Upgrade your HVAC System
Heating alone is responsible for more than 40% of home energy use. Upgrading to an ENERGY STAR furnace can be as much as 16% more energy-efficient than baseline models. HOP Energy carries a full line of Energy Star rated equipment to help make your energy consumption more efficient. Air conditioning, by comparison, doesn’t contribute as much to energy bills. ENERGY STAR central air conditioning units are only approximately only 8% more efficient than conventional models. However, because air conditioning systems are typically integrated with heating systems, the recommendation is to purchase your new furnace and air conditioner at the same time, ensuring the air conditioner performs at its maximum rated energy efficiency. Click here to learn more about how HVAC systems work.
- Switch to a Programmable Thermostat
The United States Department of Energy [USDE] estimates a 10% reduction on your utility bill just by installing a programmable thermostat. With automatic temperature adjustments, ability to control remotely, and more precise temperature control, a programmable thermostat will not only simplify your life but will cut your energy consumption. HOP Energy offers a full range of Smart Home Products like the NEST.
- Install Energy Efficient Windows
Windows are a significant source of energy waste, which can contribute up to 25% of your total heating bill. Replacing single-pane windows with energy efficient double-pane windows will help insulate your home and prevent heat loss. In colder regions like the northeast US, specialized gas-filled windows with low-e coatings can significantly reduce your heating expenses. Interior or exterior storm windows can also reduce unnecessary heat loss. In the warm summer months, the opposite effect occurs with heat gain through windows. In addition to minimizing heat loss, low-e coatings on windows can also decrease heat gain by reflecting more light and lowering the amount of thermal energy diffused into your home, which means your HVAC spends less time cooling it.
HOP Energy wants to help you find the best energy-conservation solutions for your home. We offer a free in-home analysis with one of our highly trained technicians, who will assess your home and energy usage and provide a detailed plan of how you can conserve energy and reduce costs. Call us today 855-610-0927 to schedule an appointment or contact us here.