Easy Adjustments You Can Make to Lower HVAC Energy Usage
Whether your energy bill is high or low relative to rates in your area, chances are good that you won’t turn your nose up at the opportunity to save some money on your monthly expenses. We’d all rather put that money in the bank or spend it on something fun than send it off to the utility companies. And yet, you don’t want the trade-off to be that you freeze under layers of sweaters all winter long or sweat through your sheets during summer nights. You want to be comfortable in the confines of your home and that’s what you pay for when you run the HVAC system. But you’ll be happy to hear that you can have your cake and eat it, too, in this instance. There are plenty of easy adjustments you can make around the house to conserve energy and increase efficiency while lowering your bills and remaining comfortable in the process.
A good place to start is with a home energy audit. A professional technician will come to your house for a top-to-bottom inspection and a series of tests. The end result will be a detailed listing of the areas in your home that are experiencing energy waste. When you understand where your problems lie you can make appropriate repairs or upgrades in order to increase the efficiency of your home. Some will be fairly inexpensive, such as adding weather stripping or sealing around vents and ducts, while others, like installing new insulation, could cost more. But these changes will not only help to lower your bills; you’ll also enjoy the fact that the temperature of your interior is easier to regulate, making for fewer problems with drafts, rooms that always seem hotter or colder than the rest of the house, and so on.
You might also consider upgrading to Energy Star products as needed. Your home may currently play host to a slew of outdated, energy-guzzling appliances and electronics. But at some point everything needs to be replaced. For example, as your old-school incandescent bulbs burn out you can replace them with CFLs that require less energy and last a lot longer. And over time you might upgrade to a wide range of energy-efficient items, including kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, water heater (or tankless water heater), windows, roofing, computers, televisions, and of course, HVAC components like your furnace, AC unit, and energy recovery ventilators. This can be an expensive process, though, so you might have to upgrade on an as-needed basis.
In the meantime, you can also adapt your behavior for savings by figuring out ways to conserve energy around the house. If you have a programmable thermostat in place, for goodness sake, take the time to program a schedule that accounts for your absence during the work day or the time you spend sleeping by adjusting the temperature accordingly. And try to follow standards set by the Department of Energy for setting your thermostat (no higher than 68F in winter and no lower than 78F in summer). Changing bad habits can be hard, but it’s a great way to lower HVAC energy usage and save some dough in the process.