When people talk about cutting down on their energy usage they're usually looking for the big thing, the major change they can make that will make a huge impact on their energy bill all in one fell swoop. The problem is more often than not this one big thing doesn’t exist or is unreasonable at the moment. Short of completely replacing and upgrading your whole Austin heating and cooling system and doing a complete make-over of your insulation there isn’t really one big thing you can do to make a huge dramatic difference in the amount of energy your house uses. This isn’t a bad thing though.
It just means that if you want to make a significant difference in your energy usage you have to think holistically. In other words, instead of looking for the one big answer, look for smaller and simpler to cut back on energy usage around the house. The HVAC system may be the biggest draw of energy in the household but it’s far from the only one and often times we’re not in a position where we could reasonable upgrade our cooling and heating in Austin, either because our current ones aren’t old or outdated, we’re not going to be staying at our current residence long enough for an expensive upgrade to be worth it, or some other reason. So in this tip of the day, let’s look at some of the smaller ways to save energy that can really add up if you commit to them.
One of the simplest ways you can increase the energy efficiency of your home is by upgrading your lights. Lights use a significant amount of energy in the home but many people use too much energy to light up their house, or at least more than they need to. That’s why one of the easiest steps that people who are concerned about their energy usage can take is tossing wasteful incandescents and twisting in greener, more efficient light bulb technology to magically achieve up to 75% savings on lighting. We’re talking compact fluorescent bulbs here. These bulbs use 75 percent less energy than typical incandescents, and they last 10 times longer. Look for a compact fluorescent wattage that's about one-third of the incandescent wattage you usually use. Also consider LED lights, which are dropping in cost all the time and use significantly less energy.
You can make the lighting in your house even smarter by implementing lighting control devices. Use lighting control devices like dimmers, motion detectors, occupancy sensors, photocells and timers to provide light only when you need it. The great thing about motion detectors and occupancy sensors, in particular, is that once they are installed, the energy-saving effect is effortless. Sensors, aptly named, detect and respond to signals such as movement, light, and temperature. Using motion sensors, such as those used in security lights and room occupancy sensors, can help you create a safer, more energy-efficient environment for your home. Occupancy sensors reduce lighting energy consumption from 15-90 percent depending on the type of lights used and the amount of traffic in the area. They are great for spaces that are intermittently occupied. In fact, starting with areas that are sporadically occupied offers the most savings, with some areas, such as bathrooms, offering over 90% savings on lighting.
Block Phantom Loads
Don’t let the cool and mysterious name mislead you, there’s nothing special or wanted about phantom loads. The term “phantom load” refers to the energy that an appliance or electronic device consumes when it is not actually turned on. The elimination of phantom loads simply requires adopting a new habit that’s extremely easy to implement. And the difference you’ll see on your energy bill might surprise you.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” A report from the University of California Berkeley says that phantom loads account for about 6 percent of all national residential electricity consumption. You can eliminate phantom loads by unplugging appliances and electronics when you are not using them, or by plugging them into a power strip, and turning the strip off when they are not in use. That might be the most convenient method for most people.
So avoiding the needless loss of energy due to phantom loads isn’t particularly complicated. Unplug or use power strips to cut power to appliances and chargers when not in use to guard against vampire energy drain. Pay special attention to current consuming locales like entertainment centers and offices.
Clean Clothes Simply
One of the biggest draws of energy in your daily household routine is the washing and drying of clothes. Those big cleaning appliances take more than their fair share of energy to do their job which makes this an obvious place in the home to consider how we can adopt habits that cut back on this energy use.
One way to do this is by air drying your laundry. Air drying your laundry is a cheap way to save energy and money by avoiding the dryer. According to Project Laundry List, a nonprofit organization for air drying and cold washing, the use of the dryer accounts for more than six percent of most people’s electric bills. A lot of people even prefer the effects of air-drying over the harshness of a machine dryer and certain types of clothing absolutely do better and will last you longer when air-dried rather than machine dried. You can also use the natural disinfecting and bleaching properties of the sunlight to kill germs and get out stains in an eco-friendly manner.
Easy Insulation Improvements
It’s true that a lot of energy lost in a home is due to poor insulation than there is much that could be done in most American homes in order to significantly improve insulation but a lot of those efforts are time-consuming, require a professional, and can get expensive. That goes against the spirit of what this tip of the day is about, simple and easy energy-saving methods.
Not all insulation improvements extensive projects though. Some things can be as simple as adding caulk or weather stripping to doors and windows. In fact, although doors and windows don’t take up as much space as walls, they’re responsible for more than their fair share of heat loss or heat leakage. In fact, about one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors.
So why not take a few steps to mitigate this? First, try sealing all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is the cheapest and simplest option. Make sure you choose the right kind of caulk for the job. Use latex or acrylic caulk inside. It’s easy to clean and more forgiving if you're a beginner. Silicone caulk is great for outside use because it lasts longer and seals virtually any type of surface. Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors if they aren't already in place. Also, try installing storm windows at windows with only single panes. A removable glass frame can be installed over an existing window.
Energy Star says that between improving insulation and sealing leaks, homeowners could potentially save 10 percent on their annual energy bill. There are things you can add to windows that aren’t costly either. For example, reflective window film can help reduce heat gain during the summer, and it will keep furniture and carpets from fading.
Fresh Food Cheaper
The refrigerator is a big energy drain, despite it’s importance. Your fridge is always on, making it one of your most expensive appliances. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re using your refrigerator in the smartest and most energy-conservative way possible.
Make sure the door seal is tight and free from gaps so cold air can't escape. One easy way to check the seal on your refrigerator door is by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it's time to replace the gaskets. You can purchase a replacement kit from an appliance dealer or a home center.
Keep the refrigerator temperature about 36-38 degrees, and the freezer at 0-5 degrees. If you have a second fridge or freezer, only turn it on when you need it. Also, many people don’t realize that there are more reasons to not overfill the refrigerator than just making it inconvenient to find the exact condiment you’re looking for. Another reason to not overload the refrigerator or freezer is that cold air needs to circulate freely to keep foods at the proper temperature. Also, make sure the refrigerator is level, so the door automatically swings shut instead of open. If the floor isn't level, use shims to prop up the front of the refrigerator.
Energy Tips and Heating Repair in Austin
It isn’t hard to save energy in the home. All it requires is a little knowledge and a few small investments or habit changes. It’s something anyone can do and a few changes here and there can end up having a big impact over time. From changing the type of bulbs that light up your house to using power strips to avoid the needless wasting of energy due to phantom loads, try implementing a few simple energy-saving techniques into your own home.
Heating in Austin has its time and place, but the last thing you want is to have none when you need it most. That’s why heating maintenance is so important. If you ever need heater repair in Austin, consider AC Express. AC Express is an Austin heater repair company that operates everywhere from Manor and Lakeway to Leander and Kyle. For quality heating service in Austin, call today!