As energy costs continue to rise, many of us continue looking for ways to save money by reducing daily consumption or upgrading the features of our homes. Where once homes were designed based on merely luxury or affordability, a lot of thought now goes into how they can be more energy efficient. Here in Tampa, when the mercury climbs into the 80s and people start switching on their air conditioning, it’s even more important to make sure our homes are using that energy efficiently.
Floor plans are expected to direct airflow better than ever, and the position of the home and the insulation value of the building materials are major considerations. Even the layout of individual rooms can have an impact on how your home uses energy. Of course, a lot of these things we can’t control in older homes, but there are still plenty of tips you can follow to be smart about energy and save a lot of money in the process.
Be aware of your heating and cooling settings at all times. Set your temperatures based on when you will be in your home and when it will be vacant, turning the A/C down right after you leave in the morning and up again just as you get home.
If you have a particularly smart thermostat, you may be able to set it based on the zones of your home and control the temperature of specific rooms. Of course, if you don’t, you can always do it the old fashioned way and just close the vents in rooms that aren’t occupied very often. If you can learn to control the thermostat and the airflow, you’ll be able to control your energy spending much better.
Up to 25% of your heat can be lost through windows. They may not be closed tightly, or the seal has worn too thin, or they may simply be old windows that don’t do a good job of insulating. Whatever it is, you can control the amount of heat that escapes or gets into your home with the judicious use of blinds, awnings for shade, and energy-efficient, double-paned windows.
Awnings prevent the sun from turning your house into a greenhouse on hot summer days, as do blinds, which also act as an insulator in colder months. It’s a good idea to open up the blinds on winter afternoons to let the light in, but be sure to close them up once the sun goes down.
Sometimes it’s as simple as turning the lights off when you leave a room. There are some cases when it may be prudent to leave a light on – like when you are leaving the house for an extended period and want to make it look like someone is home – but there are better ways to go about that. Either put the lights on a timer or invest in a security app/system that allows you to control the lights from your smartphone.
Better Appliance Usage
A lot of small things can really add up to a lot of energy savings, and how you use your everyday appliances can make a big difference. Try keeping your refrigerator fully stocked so less warm air rushes in when the door is opened. Do more of your laundry at once instead of multiple smaller loads. You can even use a toaster oven on small meals to save on the long preheats of a conventional oven. And finally, unplug all the small appliances that don’t get used regularly, because otherwise they still drain a trickle of power.
As for your HVAC system, it’s important to keep it well maintained. Change out your filters frequently, and make sure to get your air conditioning unit serviced if it’s been a few years since you’ve had it looked at. In some instances the energy savings over time from a new unit can be enough to cover the cost of replacing your aging A/C unit.
In the end, it’s all about paying attention to how and when you use the most energy. While you may not have to go out and check the meter every day, you should pay attention to your energy bills and usage statistics. Look for the spikes in your water/heat/energy usage and figure out why they are happening. There might be a very simple way to eliminate the problem or start being more efficient – which will always lead to more savings.
Amanda Peters writes for One Hour Air Tampa on topics ranging from air conditioning and appliance repair to DIY and home improvement. You can read more of her tips at the One Hour Air Blog, with specific recommendations on how to improve your air quality and save energy in every room in the house.