As we transition from spring into summer, we have a few tips and tricks to help you conserve energy and keep more money in your wallet. Check out which of these you could incorporate into your home maintenance to reap the benefits.
Whether you’re buying a dishwasher, clothes dryer, refrigerator, or furnace, the energy efficiency of each appliance you choose can make a big difference in the ongoing cost of your home. Always look for the Energy Star® label to ensure that you’re buying a product that exceeds government standards. Also, you can use the Energy Guide label- a yellow tag that is attached to most appliances-to compare the typical annual energy costs of different models. Whenever possible, choose appliances that run on natural gas, rather than electricity, as they are more economical to use in the long run.
If we could see the air that leaks in or out of our homes, many of us would be shocked. Air is relentless in its path, whether it’s moving inside or outside of the home. In fact, studies have shown that air infiltration can cause up to 35% of a home’s heat loss. The proper installation of high-performance windows and insulation is key to reducing air infiltration, but it is also essential to seal up less noticeable areas where air can pass through the home’s shell. Be mindful to seal the openings around recessed lighting, electrical outlets and switches, plumbing vents, and any cracks or crevices that might be hidden around windows or doors.
It may sound too simple, but planting a tree to shade your home can help cut energy costs in warm weather, and can even make your home easier to heat in the winter. According to the USDA Forest Service, trees that are properly placed around your home can reduce your air conditioning needs by up to 30% and your heating costs by 20% to 50%. Furthermore, the US Department of Energy says three properly placed trees could reduce utility cost by $100 to $250 per year. Considering that trees also improve a home’s curb appeal, planting them around your house is a win-win.
You can choose window treatments or coverings not only for decoration, but to save energy as well. Some carefully selected window treatments can both reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
Unlike shades, interior blinds can be adjusted to control light and ventilation. For example, when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45%.
Regarding drapery, a drape’s ability to reduce heat loss and gain depends on several factors, including fabric type and color. During summer days, you should close draperies on windows receiving direct sunlight to prevent heat gain. Studies demonstrate that medium colored draperies with white plastic backings can reduce heat gains by 33%. Lastly, an alternative to blinds and drapery is to purchase highly reflective window films which help to block summer heat gain.
Make sure that you are changing filters in your HVAC system every 30 days. This is key to keep your system running at peak performance. To use even less money while cooling down, use your ceiling fan as well. Ceiling fans use no more electricity than a standard light bulb. However, be sure to turn fans off when you leave – they only cool people, not rooms. Another cost and energy efficient way to manage the temperature of your home is to utilize the program feature on your thermostat to adjust temperature throughout the day. This way you can have the system shutting off when you’re at work, on vacation, etc., and not wasting money blasting cold air into an empty house!
We hope that by following some of these tips you’ll see the benefit, whether it’s in a slightly lower bill, or the peace of mind that your home and appliances are being used in the smartest and most efficient way possible. A home is like a well-oiled machine, often requiring small tasks like the ones mentioned above. These small tasks will make a big difference in the long run to keep things running smoothly.
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