-Pennies From Heaven –
This month let’s find out a little bit more about energy savings! There is A LOT you can do to lower those high electric bills. Instead of generalized article I’d like to tell you what I’ve done with my home to make it more energy efficient. I think I’ve done everything possible to lower my bills but if you can think of something else please let me know!
First of all, I have a high efficiency A/C (defined as one with a 13 SEER or above). CALL AROUND, I was amazed at the disparate bids I got. I check (and change if dirty) my filter monthly. Most people don’t realize how this affects their cooling bill considering how many dirty filters I see on a daily basis! (do not use a washable “allergy” filter, they reduce airflow thus raising your elec. bill, the best kind to use are the pleated “wavy” paper type)
I keep my outside unit clean with spray-on coil cleaner (some brands of equipment, especially Rheem and Ruud, get clogged much quicker than others). Dirty outside coils cause the unit to run hot, thus lowering efficiency. BTW did you know the filter must be installed in the proper direction ? Look for the little arrow on the side of it, that’s the way the air SHOULD go thru it (we see LOTS of them put in wrong). Be sure to seal up your duct system including your return air, the average home loses 27% of the cooled air into the attic ! (per the City of Austin) This is very easy to do with duct mastic (is like glue), $16 worth will take care of your entire duct system.
Replace regular light bulbs with the compact fluorescent type. These cost more but last almost forever, use very little power and put out much less heat. (the standard type bulb uses 80% of the electricity to produce HEAT, not light!). I put boxes (“dams”) on top of my “can” lights, these are real big energy wasters without this…
I replaced my old style toilets with the new low flow type, FREE from the City.
Seal up the building “envelope” with weatherstripping and caulk, there are LOTS of air leaks I guarantee. (it is more effective to do this INSIDE the house rather than outside)
I have installed solar screens on the West & South sides of my home. I take these off in the winter though to let the sun in. This is a quick process with a cordless screwdriver! These screens can affect the view out the window though some of the newer ones aren’t too bad. Note: these screens are MUCH more effective than solar film or miniblinds. These aren’t needed if you have “Low E” windows commonly found on newer homes.
I installed radiant barrier in my attic under the rafters. This is a foil product which reflects back the radiant heat of the sun as it passes through the roof shingles and plywood. This one thing alone will save you 9% on your cooling bill IF your a/c unit is in the attic. The foil type is better than the paint-on type…
I have a programmable thermostat which automatically adjusts the temperature in my home after I leave in the morning. Texas A&M Energy Extension Service recommends your system be turned off if you will be gone more than 6 hours.
I have installed, and use, ceiling fans in all rooms. Fans allow you to raise the thermostat setting 2 or 3 degrees thus cutting your power use commensurately. Only run them if you are in the room. I can’t till you the number of houses I go into and all the fans are running, with NO ONE home…
I lowered the setting to 118 on my water heater (from the factory setting of 140!) This is still plenty hot believe me! Don’t get a tankless unit to save money, the payback period is WAY out there… Put a timer on your electric tank so it’s only on when you need it to be. If you have a circulating pump on your tank (common in larger homes), put a timer on it so it’s only circulating water when the family is home.
Make sure your fireplace damper is closed when you’re not using it, it sucks out a LOT of air.
I installed styrofoam liners behind & baby proof caps on all my plug covers on the exterior walls ( to prevent air infiltration). I caulked around the pipes under all my sinks.
Increased the R-value of my attic insulation from R-19 to R-38.
Installed a storm door on the front of my house to lower air filtration around it (it’s also nice to have a separation between me and a stranger when I open my door)
Installed solar film on my garage windows and put foil-backed insulation board on the inside of my garage door to keep radiant heat out ( my garage faces west unfortunately!)
Installed additional roof vents to keep my attic cooler (for those of you without air vents under your roof overhangs, these are needed as well.) Do not use elec. exhaust fans in the attic (they suck air out of the house too!)
I put a “rain switch” on my sprinkler system which prevents the system from coming on if it’s been raining, free from the City.
Had a energy audit done on my home
Bought a countertop toaster oven so I don’t heat up my whole kitchen with my built-in oven every time I need something small cooked.
Put photocells, timers or motion detectors on outside lights so they’re not on all night.
Have you electric bill “levelized” by your power company so your bill is the same every month, makes budgeting a LOT easier.
Plant fast growing shrubs or trees on the East, West and South sides of your home. Arizona Ash and Bradford pears grow quickly and gives great shade as do some variants of Crepe Myrtle (which is prettier and blooms all Summer)
I made sure my toilets didn’t have silent leaks (put food coloring in the tank, if it shows up in the bowl, your flapper is leaking). These leaks can REALLY add up fast.
A note about storm windows and double pane windows. While these doubtless lower your energy cost, they are not cost effective for the average homeowner to install in an existing home as the payback period is longer than the typical family owns their home! (source: Texas A&M energy Extension Service)
DON’T FILE THIS AWAY, PUT IT WHERE YOU’LL SEE IT EVERYDAY SO YOU’LL BE REMINDED OF HOW MUCH MONEY YOU’RE WASTING !!