Top 5 Seasonal Home Energy Saving Tips
When it comes to doing your part for the environment, you may be looking for ways to make a difference in your everyday life, which is to say, the way you run your household. Sure you can use mass transit, buy a low- or no-emission car, or ride your bike to work. But it may not be enough to offset the damage you do when you’re lounging at home, enjoying your many electronic devices and lights and luxuriating in the perfect interior temperature afforded by your central air system. And yes, all of this modern convenience is sucking up energy and contributing to your carbon debt in a major way. So use natural lighting when possible and power down electronics when they’re not in use. As for your HVAC system, there are several ways you can cut back on your energy use, especially during the summer and winter seasons when your draw tends to be highest. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint while still managing to maintain a livable interior environment.
- Home energy audit. The first step is to create the most energy-efficient atmosphere possible, and this means plugging any leaks your home may have sprung over the years. A home energy audit performed by a professional technician will result in a report that tells you where waste is occurring around doors, windows, vents, pipes, baseboards, and other areas of the home. From there you can install weather stripping, caulk, insulation, and sealant galore in order to ensure that your home is practically hermetically sealed against the ingress of outside air and the egress of your temperature-controlled environment, helping you to streamline energy usage and slash your electric bill in the process.
- Annual HVAC inspection. If you’re not hiring a service to inspect, clean, maintain, and repair your HVAC equipment at least annually, you’re probably increasing your energy draw incrementally as your system becomes fouled, forcing it to work harder to achieve the same results. At the very least you should be cleaning away dust and debris buildup and replacing filters once a year. But a professional service is your best bet for optimum efficiency and you might want to do your own inspections more frequently during high-demand seasons.
- Energy-efficient equipment. If your furnace or boiler and AC unit are outdated (10-20 years old or more), you probably aren’t getting anywhere near the energy efficiency that you might enjoy with a modern unit. Often, newer systems not only meet your demands for air with less energy usage to start, but they may come with a 2-step system that helps you to conserve even more if you temper your demand (by changing the temperature only a couple of degrees at a time instead of several degrees at once). This could significantly reduce the amount of energy you draw during the summer and winter months.
- Programmable thermostat. Purchasing energy-efficient equipment is only of value if you have the right tools in place to use it properly, so once you’ve installed your high-end furnace and AC unit, make sure you get a programmable thermostat to go with them. Then program it according to your personal schedule. This will ensure that you’re not drawing unneeded energy when the house is empty (while the family is at work and at school, for example). And it will get your interior to the temperature you want in the most efficient way before you arrive back home.
- Plant trees. If you’re concerned about both indoor air quality and public health, then planting trees is a great way to meet your many environmental goals. Not only does greenery provide a much-needed boost of oxygen and clean the air around your home, but trees can provide shade to lower the temperature in your home during the summer and a windbreak to decrease the demand for heating in the winter.