Saving Energy Long-Term Requires a Broader Thinking & 4 Areas to Focus On

Published on: February 18, 2015
CFL Lights Save Energy | AC Southeast®

What are your motives for saving energy? Whether your biggest concern is to cut back on energy bills or do your part for the environment, you can achieve energy savings in the long-term with a few effective tips. Some methods to save energy are completely free while others require an investment. The more tips you implement, the greater energy savings you can expect to see.

Saving Energy on Lighting

  • Turn off lights in empty rooms: Get in the habit of flipping the switch when you leave the room if you’ll be gone for more than a few minutes. Motion sensors are handy in the garage where your hands might be too full to easily flip the light switch on and off.
  • Enjoy free daytime lighting: Open the blinds and take advantage of light from the sun. Turn off artificial lights to save energy.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs: Only a small amount of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs is converted into light; the rest turns into heat. When your lights burn out, replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs, which operate four to five times more efficiently and last 10 times longer. The bulbs even remain cool to the touch when in operation, making them safer.
  • Upgrade linear fluorescent tubes and fixtures: Newer T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts consume 25 percent less energy than older T-12 fluorescent lamps and electromagnetic ballasts. In some cases, it even makes sense to replace incandescent bulbs with linear fluorescent tubes, such as in the basement, garage or kitchen.
  • Reduce the amount of lighting in your home: This involves disconnecting unneeded lamps and re-circuiting areas so a smaller portion of lights are controlled by a single switch.

Saving Energy on Heating

  • Weatherize your home: Apply caulk, weatherstripping and foam sealant to cut down on wintertime drafts. To test how airtight your home is, seek an energy audit from a qualified professional. The goal is to achieve about 0.33 air changes per hour. More air changes than this wastes energy while fewer air changes could result in indoor air quality problems.
  • Add insulation: The attic is the most cost-effective place to add insulation and help keep heated air inside. Talk with a professional to determine what type of insulation is best for your situation. Also, consider the importance of vapor barriers and venting techniques to prevent moisture problems.
  • Replace windows: Storm windows do well in the winter, but if you have old, leaky windows, you could benefit from making replacements. High-performance windows slow heat loss and allow sunlight to naturally warm your home.
  • Close the fireplace damper: Fireplaces tend to be energy wasters. Close the damper when a fire isn’t lit to save energy.
  • Upgrade your furnace: When it’s time for an equipment upgrade, opt for a higher-efficiency system that consumes less energy every month. For optimal operation and system longevity, make sure a professional sizes the new furnace correctly.

Saving Energy on Cooling

  • Rely on cross-ventilation when possible: Summers in the Southeast certainly get hot, but on mild days, open the windows instead of running the air conditioner. Run ceiling fans and place box fans in the windows to draw cooler air inside.
  • Keep the heat out: When things really start to heat up, reduce interior heat gain by shutting the blinds; installing reflective films on windows; and shading your home with awnings, vine-covered trellises and tall trees.
  • Run the air conditioner efficiently: Close all the windows when operating the A/C, keep all supply registers open, make sure return registers are unblocked, and clean the air filter regularly.
  • Install a programmable thermostat: Set the thermostat between 80 and 85 degrees while away during the day. Automatic recovery ensures a comfortable home when you return in the evening.
  • Seal the ductwork: Leaky ducts decrease cooling efficiency and make your home less comfortable. Hire a professional to seal leaks with duct mastic; never attempt the job with duct tape.

Saving Energy on Water Heating

  • Reduce hot water consumption: Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, shorten your showers, and wash clothes in cold water to save on water heating costs.
  • Address the water heater: Drain sediment from the tank regularly, add insulation, and lower the temperature to 120 degrees.
  • Consider more efficient water heating options: Storage tanks are not very efficient. Tankless and solar water heaters are worthwhile alternatives to consider when replacing aging equipment.

Now that you’re familiar with effective tips for saving energy at home, please contact us at AirConditioningSouthEast.com for help finding a qualified contractor.