Thursday, September 23, 2004

Simple Home Energy Improvements

After paying the bills it is obvious that increasing your homes' energy efficiency will make a direct impact on your pocketbook every month.

There are some very simple and straightforward things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
1) Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which use only a quarter of the energy for the same amount of light.
2) Weatherstrip windows and doors, to reduce air leaks so your heated or cooled air doesn't just escape.
3) Insulate wall outlets and switches that on on outside walls since they usually have the least insulation behind them.
4) Put power bricks on power strips and turn them off when not in use. Those power bricks, or wall warts are always (24/7/365) drawing power the only way to stop that is to unplug them and a power strip does that just fine.
5) Turn down the hot water heater to 120. I haven't seen a difference with clothes washed one way or the other.
6) Install a setback thermostat and have it automatically turn down the heat when you are gone during the day and at night when you are asleep. We are home most of the day so we have it turn down the temperature at night when we are asleep and it helps. Now if they only had one that would automatically change between heating and cooling. Colorado has fun weather particularly in the Spring and Fall. It can be 90 during the day and 50 at night and that is a big swing and remembering to switch to heat at night is annoying particularly at 3am when you are shivering.
7) Extra attic insulation. 90% of heat is lost through the roof, remember heat rises.
8) Install cellular blinds. Cellular blinds are great they have air pockets that act as insulation. We have some on the bedroom windows and they make a several degree difference in the southern bedrooms by keeping the sun out and by keeping the heat in in the northern bedrooms.
9) Upgrade your appliances.
The furnace is usually the oldest appliance and if it is more then 10 years old is going to be far less efficient then a modern high-efficiency furnace. I would also recommend gas as that is very effective in converting the gas to heat.
The Air conditioner is much the same as the furnace.
The hot water heater if it is very warm or hot to the touch you want to at least give it a blanket or replace it. Remember to clean out the sludge and replace the anode, I once saw a heating element from a never maintained hot water heater that had 2 inches (4 cm) of minerals encrusted on it. The owner was complaining that he wasn't getting enough hot water to finish a shower any more. A lot of money was wasted because of that. I recommend gas for this appliance too.
The refrigerator: Modern refrigerators are better insulated and have better compressors then older models.
The freezer, many people have freezers, I am one of them and we keep a lot of food in ours, though many only have a pizza or two in it so it isn't worth running, see if you need it.
A front loading clothes washer uses only a third or less of the water an upright uses.
I also recommend a gas dryer, some people worry about them as they used to catch fire easily, but that was 50 years ago laws and design improvements have made it as safe as electric.
Replace your computers with laptops, because they are expected to run off of the battery it uses much less energy then a desktop, a desktop is usually 300W, laptops are near 30W.
Ceiling fans help move air around and even out the temperature layers in a room.

Hope these help.

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