The rising demand on our energy resources and resulting increase in the cost of electricity and natural gas are hitting Americans in the pocketbook at a time when few can afford the extra costs. By being smart about your energy usage, maintenance and choices in appliances you can help reduce these costs.

Below are some helpful Energy Smart tips to help you around your home.

Heating & Cooling Your Home
According to Energy Star, 46% of the energy used in the average home goes towards heating and cooling.

  • Check/change air conditioner (furnace) air filter. Check and change your air filter on a regular basis. This should be checked monthly, especially during high usage months. A dirty filter lowers the efficiency of your heating/cooling system and increases your heating and cooling costs.
  • Schedule regular heating and cooling maintenance. A tune-up ensures that your system is running efficiently and safely, saving you money and giving you peace of mind! Air conditioners at peak efficiency will use up to 20% less electricity and last years longer.
  • Energy Efficient Systems. If your system is older (A/C – 10+ years or Furnace – 15+ years) or it’s not providing the comfort it should, consider replacing it with an energy efficient system. By replacing a 10 SEER unit with a 16 SEER unit you’ll see savings of up to 50% (see chart).
  • Programmable Thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat in your home is the easiest way to save money and energy without sacrificing comfort. A programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by regulating your home's temperature in both summer and winter – when you are asleep or away. It’s ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs, according to Energy Star.

Water Heating
Water heating is the second, single largest energy user in your home at 14%.

  • Lower the temperature. Some water heaters are preset at the factory for 140° F; by lowering the temperature to 120° F you’ll still have comfortable hot water and save money.
  • Insulate. Consider insulating your water heater with a water heater jacket or blanket. CAUTION: You may want to have a professional plumber do this service for you, especially if you have a gas water heater. When insulating a gas water heater you’ll need to be very careful to avoid covering up the thermostat panel, make sure the airflow to the burner isn’t obstructed and avoid insulating the top of the gas water heater. Remember insulation is combustible and it can interfere with the draft diverter.
  • Consider buying an energy efficient water heater. If your water heater is more than 10 years old consider replacing with an energy efficient one. Another option would be to replace your traditional water heater with a tankless water heater. With a Tankless water heater you only heat the water that you want to use, not the water waiting to be used in a tank. You can save up to 60% on water heating costs with a Tankless water heater. When you heat water directly without the use of a storage tank you avoid the heat recovery and standby losses associated with a storage water heater.

Household Appliances/Electronics & Lighting
Together all of these account for 32% of your energy usage.

Appliances

  • Increase energy efficiently and ensure proper ventilation by keeping appliances clean and free of dust and lint.
  • Use the air-dry setting when washing dishes, instead of the heated drying to conserve energy.
  • Replace older appliances with Energy Star rated products. Newer energy efficient appliances use a lot less energy to do the same job!

Electronics

  • Seldom used home electronics should actually be unplugged from the wall. Items like DVD players use 40 percent of their energy while in the off position to power functions like clocks and remote controls.
  • Use only energy efficient electronics. When buying a new TV or Computer look for Energy Star rated products.

Lighting

  • Save electricity and reduce waste by shutting off lights in rooms which are not occupied.
  • Switch your traditional incandescent lights with more efficient fluorescent lighting. By replacing 25 percent of lights in high-use areas with fluorescents, the California Energy Commission says homeowners can save up to 50 percent on lighting-related energy expenses. Energy Star rated fluorescent lamps also last six to 10 times longer.

Be energy smart and save money this summer by following these simple tips. For more information, contact A.J. Perri.

Sources: www.wecnmagazine.com                 
               www.energystar.gov  
               energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver
               www.americanheatus.com 
               www.energy.ca.gov