With energy prices on the rise and natural resources quickly diminishing, Mobile residents are always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption to save money and lower their carbon footprint. Reducing the amount of energy you use through practicing energy conservation and maintaining an energy efficient home will help you do both.
The Difference Between Conservation and Efficiency
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a big difference between conserving energy and using it efficiently.
Energy conservation is the act of reducing the amount of energy you use by changing certain behaviors, such as riding your bike to work a few times a week instead of driving. Energy efficiency is the act of ensuring that the energy you consume is used efficiently, such as properly maintaining your car or purchasing a hybrid vehicle.
Practicing energy conservation and increasing energy efficiency results in considerable savings while helping to preserve natural resources. Start by addressing the three major energy systems in your home: HVAC, water heating and lighting.
The HVAC System
Heating and cooling your home account for about half of your annual utility bill, and energy conservation is essential for lowering these costs.
- Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.
- Set back the thermostat by 15 degrees for at least eight hours every day to reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 15 percent. A programmable thermostat can help you manage thermostat settings automatically, based on your schedule.
- Set back the usual thermostat setting by three degrees and compensate by wearing warmer clothes in the winter or using fans to help you feel cooler in the summer.
Improving the energy efficiency of your home and HVAC system will ensure that the energy you consume isn’t wasted.
- Schedule an annual preventive tuneup for the HVAC systems at the beginning of each season to increase efficiency.
- Seal air leaks in your home. The loss of conditioned air due to leaks makes the HVAC system work harder to maintain the right temperature.
- Inspect the HVAC system’s air filter each month and replace a dirty filter right away to ensure proper airflow and prevent dust from building up inside the system. Proper airflow and a clean interior are major factors for energy efficiency.
- Seal the ductwork. Leaky ducts in the typical home account for a 20 to 40 percent loss of the air that flows through.
- Insulate ductwork in unconditioned places like the attic, crawl space or garage to keep the air inside at the optimum temperature as it moves through and to help prevent mold that may result from condensation.
Heating water for the home accounts for about 20 percent of your annual utility bill. Practice these energy conservation measures to save money on heating water.
- Only wash full loads dishes, and use the shortest cycle on the dishwasher.
- Wash clothes in cold water, and save hot water washes for bedding and towels.
- Install low-flow fixtures to conserve hot water.
Maintaining the energy efficiency of your water heater is essential for reducing hot water bills.
- Lower the thermostat to 120 degrees, which is sufficient for most household needs.
- Insulate the exposed cold and hot water pipes, and install an insulating jacket on the tank.
- Flush the tank every two years to remove sediment, which acts as insulation between the heating element and the water.
Lighting is worth about 10 percent of your annual utilities. The high price of electricity and the large amount of natural resources required to generate it make energy conservation particularly important when it comes to lighting.
- Turn off lights when you’re not using them.
- Put outdoor lights on a timer so they turn off as soon as the sun comes up.
- Consider a lighting system that runs on automatic settings or allows you to turn lights on and off from a remote location using a WiFi-enabled device.
Increasing the energy efficiency of your lighting will further decrease your carbon footprint and your energy bills.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which use a whopping 75 percent less electricity and last six times longer.
- Install dimmer switches to reduce the amount of energy used per bulb.
- Invest in LED lights for the holidays, which use a small fraction of the energy of standard string lights and burn cooler.
For more expert tips on practicing energy conservation and improving energy efficiency in your home, please feel free to contact us in the Mobile area at Air Specialty.