When it comes to how you can change your habits regarding keeping cool or warm and using your HVAC system, there are a million-plus articles out there about the summer and the winter. And it makes sense, as the most extreme seasons are generally when people use the most energy controlling the climate of their household so many people seek out answers to the question of how they can mitigate this effect. But it’s possible that an opportunity is being missed here by only focusing on the coldest and hottest times in the year when it comes to cutting back on energy usage.
There is just as much if not more you can do to cut down on your utility bill in the spring and fall as there is with the summer and winter. In fact, this concept doesn’t just have to apply to spring and fall, it can include any time during the year when the weather is mild, like the end of winter pleasantness we’ve been experiencing here in Austin. Heating has been a big issue for us this winter as it has in previous years, and in fact, many days the air conditioner has seen much more action than the heater in our Austin homes. That presents an opportunity to change our habits a little and reduce our energy usage even further. So read on to get some ideas for saving energy in mild weather at this tip of the day.
Tip #1: Use Those Windows to Their Fullest
Windows aren’t just a way to brighten up a home that would otherwise be dark and gloomy in the daytime. A lot of people don’t realize just how much heat exchange happens through the windows in their homes. Taking advantage of the properties of your windows that allow them to conduct the transfer of heat into your home is a great way to take some of the load of your heater during mildly cold weather.
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. This will heat up your home and allow you to lower the temperature setting on your thermostat a little while still remaining plenty warm and comfortable.
Just don’t forget to reverse this effect during the night when the sun isn’t shining by closing the blinds, curtains, drapes, whatever you have to block off the windows. This will prevent more heat from escaping out through the conductive window during the night than necessary by blocking that process a little.
There are ways to use windows to your advantage on warm days as well. Days in milder climates like ours oftentimes include hot days and cold nights. Use this information wisely. If you live in a climate where it cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air. When it’s warm outside during the day, keep your windows covered to limit the amount of heat transfer that undergoes. Consider installing window coverings to maximize your prevention of heat gain through your windows.
Tip #2: Optimize Your Thermostat Settings
Many people take the bare minimum effort when it comes to changing their thermostat settings. Once it starts getting cold in the fall they switch it from “cool” to “heat”, set the temperature to something warm and comfortable, and leave it that way until the spring comes around, where they do the opposite.
There’s more thought that can be put into it though. When milder weather arrives, it doesn’t mean you can automatically switch off your furnace for the next few months. Switching your thermostat setting from "heat" to “off” to "cool" depends on the weather outside as well as your personal preference. If you’re like most people, you’ll want to continue to use your furnace when temperatures fall below 50 or 60 degrees. Luckily, if you manage your settings, it will save you a significant amount of energy.
Keeping the thermostat set at 68 degrees or lower during the colder days when you are at home is a start. Lowering the thermostat by 10-15 degrees when you are away or asleep can help you realize your savings. Saving energy means saving money while remaining comfortable in your home.
During the warm weather, it is generally recommended that you set your home's cooling system to 78 degrees when you are home. If you will be out of the house for four or more hours, consider raising the setting so the cooling system only comes on if the temperature tops 88 degrees. It is estimated that for every degree higher you set your thermostat over 78 degrees in the summer months, you could save approximately six to eight percent off your home energy bill, per degree. So, keeping your home's temperature slightly higher and using the best settings for mild weather can ultimately help save you money.
It’s also important to mention a thermostat mistake many people make that often ends up costing them money. Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense. The same goes for the heater during cooler weather. The speed at which your house warms up or cools down is not in any way related to the temperature you set your thermostat at.
Tip #3: Utilize Incidental Heat Chores
It isn’t something most people think about often, but there are a number of household activities, appliances, and chores that actually produce a significant amount of heat in and of themselves. You can utilize these activities in a way that takes some of the work of warming your home during the mildly cold weather of your heater.
In the springtime, your home can be cool at night, but you don’t necessarily need to use your furnace to keep your home comfortable. Try to do chores that increase your home’s heat gain in the evening or at night. Using certain appliances in your homes, such as the dishwasher, laundry machine, and oven, will inevitably create heat. This heat adds up, creating heat gain in your home. Using appliances that create heat can raise the temperature inside your home.
In the winter, you can add to the heat in your home by doing chores that create heat gain during the day. But in the spring and fall, however, warmer temperatures outdoors can cause your home to heat during the day and cool at night.
You can save money by easing the use of your furnace for heating. Try doing your baking, laundry, or other chores that cause heat gain at night. Every time you increase the heat gain in your home through these necessary chores, you can save money on your heating bill.
Tip #4: Don’t Forget Ceiling Fans
As you might have noticed, the tips in this article are based mostly around using the things in your house in a way that can make small differences in temperature that can be utilized in mild weather that doesn’t require a lot of control. The past tip was aimed more for mildly cold weather that requires just a little bit of heating to make a significant difference in your comfort level.
This advice applies on the opposite side too and benefits us during the times when the mild weather tips over to the warm side and we find ourselves needing a bit more cool feeling in our homes. This is the ideal time to use ceiling fans.
During the spring or other periods of mild weather like now in the late winter, you can use your ceiling fans to either cool or warm your rooms. Running a ceiling fan counterclockwise creates a breeze that makes your home feel cool. When the sun heats your home, you might find that using a ceiling fan instead of air conditioning is an inexpensive way to keep your home comfortable.
This mild time of the year can also come with cool weather, but you can still use your ceiling fan in place of your heating system. By running your fans in a clockwise, or reverse direction, the fan pushes warm air toward the ceiling and down the walls, warming the room.
Only turn on the fans you need to save on electricity, and remember to turn off your fans when you leave a room. Because the way a fan works is it moves air across your skin, you get the benefits of a fan’s cooling or heating power only while you’re occupying a room. It doesn’t actually lower or raise the temperature of the room on its own, so using them in unoccupied rooms is a useless waste of energy.
Mild Weather Energy Savings and Heating Repair in Austin
We’ve been experiencing about as mild of winter as one could hope for this year. This mild weather is likely to continue at least a little while into the beginning of the spring. This presents us with an amazing chance to bring our energy bills to an all-time minimum. With the help of some of the tips above, and a more general awareness of how much energy your using in your house and where you can accomplish record-breaking savings this winter and upcoming spring.
Despite the fact that you might be using your air conditioner and heater less and less this mild winter and spring you don’t want to neglect it when it comes to maintenance and repair. If you find yourself in need of AC or heater repair in Austin anytime soon, consider AC Express. We’ve reliably served the residents of Austin and the surrounding areas, from Buda and Kyle to Lakeway and Leander, for many years. For excellent same-day heater repair, maintenance or AC or Austin heater repair of any kind, call today!