Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reducing Electricity Use in Your Home

     In most parts of the country we see a slow but steady rise in our utility bills. To help buffer the rising costs of electricity in our homes, many folks inquire of their local utility companies what they can do to save money. So, what are the 'best' energy improvements you can make? Well, first look at your insulation levels in your attic, and in your floor crawl space. Make sure your attic insulation is up to code, or what your power company recommends for your area. Some states offer rebates, or tax credits for adding more insulation to the attic. Insulated floors or crawl spaces are important to keep cold air from getting into your house through the floor. (An extra tip, is to close your foundation vents in the winter to keep cold air out, and to open them in the summer to allow ventilation. Easy to do if you just remember to open them the first time you mow your yard in the spring)
     The next thing you can do, is to install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in your home's most-used fixtures. Also, if you have an old, inefficient refrigerator in your garage, think about upgrading to a 'energy star' rated fridge. Some utility companies will even 'pay' you and pick it up and get rid of old ones. They call it 'Cash for Clunkers' programs, etc.
     What about good DIY projects for spring and summer that can save on your utilities? I feel like I have said this a million times but, CHANGE THE FILTERS in your furnace and air conditioning systems. Clean leaves and debris away from the outside A/C unit. Spring is a good time get up in your attic and check to see that your duct work is all connected and sealed. Go into your crawl space with a flashlight and make sure duct work is connected and not leaking. If you feel that this is a bit beyond your DIY abilities, then call your local heating and cooling professionals, and have them come out and do it for you. It may cost you as little as a hundred dollars or so to have that checked.
     Okay. You say you just don't have any money to spend for improvements. What can you do?
Electricity use is determined by two variables - watts and time. Efficient appliances save you money because they either take less time to do a job, or use fewer watts. So use this principle and apply it to each electricity consuming activity in your home. Turning things off when not in use, like lights. Enabling power saving features on you computer and monitor reduces watts used. I looked around my house one morning while it was still fairly dark outside and I was amazed how many things were using watts! Every little red, blue or green light on our clock radio, cable television boxes, wall chargers for our phones, tablets, & laptops The clock lights on our stove and microwave, our alarm clocks, our irons that are still plugged in and flashing. There may be lights on our digital washer and dryer that are on all the time. Now, I'm not saying run around and turn them all off, or unplug them, but, could we do a better job of turning off or unplugging the non-essential cords and apparatuses we have.
     Raising the thermostat a couple of degrees can also reduce watts being used, by reducing run times on your air conditioner, and saving you money. I know these are little things, but little things begin to add up, and over the course of a year save you money. Thanks for following @comfortguyjerry on Twitter, and Greens Heating and Air on Facebook. Learn more at www.greensheating.com, your Boise Idaho heating and air conditioning professionals.