The idea we need to start paying better attention to how we are treating the planet has pretty much trickled down to the masses. More and more people are developing a greater interest in being a better friend to the environment, and there are lots of ways we can accomplish this worthwhile goal. One of the best, and mutually beneficial, is to reduce our energy usage in the home because not only is it good for Mother Earth, it is good for our bank accounts.
Ceiling fans can make a big dent in your energy bill, during the summer and winter months. In the summer, they can cut cooling costs by a whopping 50 percent. Compared to an air conditioner that uses 3,500 watts while running, a ceiling fan uses about 60 watts. The fans don’t actually make the room cooler, they just make it feel that way by circulating the air, and creating a nice, refreshing breeze.
Turn down the AC by at least four degrees when running the fans on high. Make sure it is running counterclockwise during hot weather—this will maximize air movement and created that wonderful breeze that will cool you down, even when your AC is running at a higher setting. You can tell if the fan is moving in the right direction by turning it on, and standing under it. If you feel the breeze right away, it is going counterclockwise.
During the winter, run the fan clockwise on a low setting. When running in this direction, the blades pull the air up in the center, and push it back down near the edges. This mixes warmer and cooler air together, creating a steadier temperature throughout. A steadier temperature means your HVAC system expends less energy warming the house.
Don’t Neglect Your HVAC System
When your HVAC system is not operating at peak efficiency, it has to work harder to heat and cool the home, and working harder means using more energy. And we all know what more energy means—higher utility bills. As a homeowner, there are several things you can do on your own to keep it in good shape. If it is in the cards financially, you might consider upgrading to a new, energy efficient system. There are many companies offering great HVAC rebates, to help offset the costs, so it might not be as expensive as you think.
If you don’t have one already, the new pleated high-efficiency filters are much better at trapping even the smallest of particles. Typically, filters need to be replaced every three months, but should be checked monthly. If it looks really dirty and clogged, replace it. FYI—if you own pets, you will probably need to change it more often. Once a month, check the insulation on refrigerant lines—if they are missing or damaged, replace them. If your unit is outside, do a weekly inspection during spring, summer and fall to remove any debris that may have accumulated around it. Once a year, pour a cup of bleach and water into the air-conditioner condensate drain to break up any deposits of mold and algae.
Seal It Up
While a little draft here and there may not seem like much, when added all together, you are looking at a major source of energy loss, and higher electric bills. Seal up any cracks around windows and doors. To find all those smaller leaks that may not be as easy to detect, here is a little trick for you. First, shut all the windows and doors. Turn on exhaust fans to depressurize the area. Light an incense stick, and move it around areas where leaks may be present. If the smoke gets blown into the room or sucked out, you have discovered a leak.
Sealing up air leaks is one of the cheapest, and easiest fixes for making your home more energy-efficient, and can yield some of the most powerful results.
There are lots of things you can do to make your home a greener, more energy-efficient space that do not involve spending loads of money. Remember lots of smaller changes can add up to big savings.