How Little Things Can Add Up To Big Energy Savings
It’s the little things that can add up.
Most homeowners are familiar with that phrase. After all, small repairs, upkeep, maintenance work here and there, and even the tiniest of improvements can cost big bucks when you put them all together -- and the costs can spiral out of control if left unchecked.
However, the same phrase can be positive when it comes to home costs, too. Doing little things each day to save energy can add up to big savings. Going out of your way to make new habits in your home can be easy and beneficial with just a few changes and strategies to pull them off. Here are the summer energy-saving tips every homeowner should know.
Make Maintenance a Priority
A dirty house is an unhappy house. Maintaining your HVAC by changing or cleaning the filters inside can make a world of difference to the comfort of your home. You also want to make sure your air conditioning unit outside your home is clean.
“The coil on your outdoor unit (where all the cottonwood collects) is the heat exchanger that transfers the heat from your house to the great outdoors. If it’s plugged up, the air conditioner will work twice as hard to reject heat and gobble up that much more energy to do it,” says Keith Hill, manager, technical support, from Minnesota Air.
Keith says don’t just look at surface dirt – the air has to be able to flow through the fins.
“You should be able to see light through the fins,” he says. “If you can’t, there is dirt in there, and you should clean it out. If you’re not comfortable cleaning it, call a pro.”
Keep Heat Out
“Were you born in a barn? Shut the door!” is a statement uttered by budget-wise parents all across the world. We all know to shut the windows and limit opening doors in our home if we have the air conditioning running, because it’s the humidity that creeps inside that makes us feel hot, and what makes our AC work so hard to cool the home.
Keith says do not open your windows in the summer unless it’s dry outside.
“It takes a lot of energy to dehumidify all of that air in your house only to let all of that moisture back in when it feels cool outside. Don’t do it – it will take that much more energy to remove all of that humidity tomorrow when the temperature heats up again,” he says.
Choose A Better Appliance
Remember that appliances like dryers, dishwashers, and ovens can add heat to your home and make your AC work harder too. When you can, choose an energy-efficient appliance and ENERGY STAR rated products. Here are some tips when it comes to using those heat-generating appliances:
- Your clothes dryer is an exhaust device that removes air from the home as it dries your clothes - and any air that goes out is replaced by incoming warm air, costing you money to cool that air. On a very hot day, air-dry clothes instead.
- Dishwashers can use a lot of energy and generate a lot of heat during the dry cycle. Air-dry and towel-dry dishes instead.
- Avoid using the oven on hot days. Choose meals that take no heat to make – like sandwiches and salads – or meals that you can grill outside.
- Pick a better light bulb. Compact fluorescent bulbs last six times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less energy. They burn cooler too; so they don’t add as much heat to your living areas.
Take shorter showers. Not only can you save more money on the amount of water you use, but also the humidity and heat caused from a shower will add to your AC load. Keith says to make sure to run the exhaust fan.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy, “water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home.” That’s why they also suggest turning the temperature of your water heater down to 120 degrees.
Getting low-flow showerheads can save water and energy, too.
Use Fans And Your Thermostat Wisely
Getting a programmable thermostat and using a fan can add to energy saving, but knowing how best to use them will add to your comfort.
- Set your programmable thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The Dept. of Energy suggests setting it at 78 degrees when you need cooling, and higher when you are away. The smaller the difference between the outdoor temperature and indoor temperature means the lower your bill will be.
- Turn off fans when you leave a room and make sure they are pointed toward you. Fans only cool people though the use of wind (think of the wind chill effect on our skin) and do not cool a room.
Remember, you can do small things to make big changes in your budget and environment. It’s the little things that add up.
For more energy saving and home comfort tips, visit StayComfyMinnesota.com! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice.