An air conditioning or heating system does much more than simply cool or heat the air. These systems actually condition the air by removing dirt, dust, mold spores, pollens and other contaminants as the air is drawn through a filter. Your air conditioning system, if it’s working as designed, also lowers the humidity, making the air much more comfortable during warm and muggy outside weather.
While running your air conditioning and heating system has great benefits, it can gobble up as much as 50 percent of your household budget (not counting mortgage or rent payments).
Here are some energy-saving tips that can save you a boatload of money and help you “GO GREEN” environmentally. Most of them are just a matter of properly maintaining and carefully operating your HVAC system.
- Lower the temperature on your thermostat in the winter, or raise it in the summer, during the daytime when you’re home. You could save up to 5 percent on energy usage for every degree you either lower the temperature in
winter or raise it in the summer. Instead of making your system do all the work, wear an extra layer in the winter to help keep warm, or wear lighter, well-ventilated clothes in the summer to help keep cool. You might be surprised at how quickly you become acclimated to the “new normal” in your home.
- Lower your thermostat to 65 degrees in the winter, or raise it to 80 degrees in the summer, while you’re away from home for work, school or any other activity that lasts more than a few hours. However, if you have a heat pump, only lower it by 2 or 3 degrees from your typical setting to avoid making the auxiliary (emergency) heating element kick on when you turn the thermostat back up.
- Even better, install a programmable thermostat to adjust temperature settings according to a preset schedule. This way you can program it to warm up your house just before you wake up, or warm it up or cool it off before you arrive home.
- Repair leaky faucets. Even a small drip can be the equivalent of wasting a bath tub full of water each month. If it’s hot water… even worse! Hire a licensed plumber if you’re not confident you can do the job.
- Find and plug those air leaks. Seal leaks between a door and its frame with weather-stripping and
fill leaks between window frame and wall with caulking. Other areas that may need to be sealed are places where building materials meet on the perimeter of your home (such as drywall and foundation) and spots where utility lines or pipes penetrate the outer envelope of your home.
- Seal light switches and electrical sockets with low-cost foam gaskets.
- Make sure your fireplace is properly vented to prevent your chimney from drawing heated
air out of your house.
- Remove window air conditioning units in the winter time to prevent them from drafting in cold air.
- Insulate hot water pipes to prevent wasting heat to unconditioned spaces.
- Install low-flow showerheads.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater. By reducing it only a few degrees, you will
lower your utility costs while still enjoying the hot water you want.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) to save energy. While they’re more expensive, they’ll last six to 10 times longer than standard bulbs.
- Install lighting controls such as dimmers, timers or motion sensors.
- Install a ceiling fan in rooms you spend the most time in. These create a cooling effect that will allow you to turn up the thermostat a few degrees, thus saving energy. With most ceiling fans, you can switch the fan-blade direction to clockwise for winter operation. This blows upward, redistributing the warm air that collects at the top of a room down into the lower areas where people congregate. Just don’t forget to switch it back when the weather warms up.