Continue Saving Energy Into the Cooler Months With These Simple Tips

fall energy savingsYou probably worked hard all summer to keep your warm weather bills in check, and with cooler weather on its way to Trinity, it’s time to look into some ways to conserve energy for the heating season. Fall energy savings is a matter of preparing your home for colder weather, shorter days and more time spent indoors. These tips will help lower utility bills for real savings this winter.

Maintain the HVAC System

Fall means it’s time for annual preventive maintenance on the heat pump or furnace that works hard all season to keep you warm. The yearly tune-up is designed to improve efficiency, help prevent common operating problems, extend the life of your system and ensure carbon monoxide safety.

A reputable HVAC technician will perform a long checklist of tasks that includes tightening electrical and gas connections and belts, lubricating moving parts to reduce friction, and measuring airflow, air temperature and greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the technician has packed up and left, it’s up to you to maintain the system to ensure continued efficiency all winter.

  • Stock up on good-quality air filters and replace your dirty filter every month or when it’s caked with dust. A clean air filter means proper airflow, good indoor air quality and protection against dust for your HVAC system.
  • Seal leaky ducts. Air leaks in the ductwork can lose up to 40 percent of the air inside. Seal loose connections with metal tape or mastic sealant.
  • Remove obstructions that are blocking return and supply registers to ensure proper airflow and keep your rooms warmer.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically control temperature settings based on when you’re at home and away.
  • Reverse the direction of ceiling fan blades, and keep the fans on the lowest setting to push warm air near the ceiling down into your rooms.

Air Seal the House

Leaky doors, windows and service entrances allow cold air inside while letting warm air escape, and your heating system has to work harder to compensate, increasing energy bills and wear on the system. Close exterior windows and doors, and walk around your home with a lit stick of incense on a windy day. When the smoke wavers, you have an air leak.

  • Seal with caulk around window and door frames where they meet the wall.
  • Attach weatherstripping to the parts of windows and doors that move.
  • Install door sweeps at the bottoms of exterior doors.
  • Seal large gaps with expandable caulk around vents and pipes that move through exterior walls.
  • Install foam insulating gaskets behind light switch plates and outlet covers on exterior walls.
  • Seal with caulk along the tops and bottoms of baseboards.

Save on Water Heating

Winter is the season for long, hot showers, and since your water heating costs account for up to 25 percent of annual utility costs, conserving hot water is essential for lower energy bills.

  • Flush the tank on the water heater to remove sediment, which acts like insulation between the water in the tank and the heating element.
  • Set the thermostat to 120 degrees to save money, prevent scalding and reduce sediment buildup.
  • Insulate the cold and hot water pipes that you can reach, and install an insulating jacket over the tank to save up to 9 percent on water heating costs.
  • Install low-flow bathroom and kitchen fixtures to reduce the amount of hot water you use.

Rethink the Lighting

Lights are on longer during the cold months due to shorter days. In addition to turning off lights that aren’t being used, these tips will ensure fall energy savings that will continue through the winter.

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs.) While these bulbs are more expensive to buy, they last around six times longer and use 75 percent less electricity.
  • Replace outdoor incandescent light bulbs with halogen lamps, which use 40 percent less electricity.
  • Put the porch light and walkway lighting on a timer to ensure they shut off as soon as the sun comes up.
  • Consider a motion-detecting security light that will only turn on when it’s activated.

Lower the Thermostat

For every degree you lower the thermostat for eight hours, you’ll save up to 2 percent on heating costs. For fall energy savings, keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees when you’re at home, and lower it 10 to 15 degrees while you’re away.

For more expert tips on fall energy savings, please feel free to contact us in the Trinity area at WA Air Conditioning.

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October 23, 2014 5:46 pm