Save Money by Becoming More Energy Efficient In Texas
Heating and Cooling Efficiency Tips
- Set your thermostat to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter - every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage 6% to 8%. Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster.
- On warm days raise your thermostat to 80F or higher if leaving for more than four hours.
- Using ceiling or portable fans instead. Fans move the air and make the room feel four to six degrees cooler, and will use much less energy than the air conditioner.
- Keep windows and door shut tight. Going in and out of the house repeatedly will make your air conditioner or furnace work harder.
- Use shades or curtains to block the sun and heat during warm weather and open them to let the sun warm your home during cooler months.
- Make sure your air-conditioner is clean. Washing the outside coils and clearing high grass and debris will prevent blockage of the air-flow.
- Do not use humidifiers or evaporator ("swamp") coolers with the air conditioner.
Refrigerators and Freezers
- Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator and freezer. Every time you open it, cool air will rush out and be replaced with warm air, causing the refrigerator to run more to stay cool.
- Keep it full. Refrigerators and freezers actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (with bottles of water if nothing else).
- Clean refrigerator door gaskets regularly and vacuum the condenser coils twice a year. Your refrigerator will operate more efficiently and use less energy.
- Your refrigerator should be set close to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer set to 3 degrees Fahrenheit to conserve energy.
- Set temperature to 120F if your dishwasher has its own water heater, otherwise set it at 140F.
- Repair leaking faucets. Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your electric consumption rapidly.
- Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment.
- Wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket if it is located in an unheated area such as a basement or garage.
Dishwashers and Clothes Washers/ Dryers
- Only run dishwashers and clothes washers when fully loaded. This will save water in addition to electricity. Wash clothes in warm and cold water and you'll use 80 to 85 percent less energy compared to using hot water.
- Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher. Using the heat-dry setting can also heat the kitchen, causing the air conditioner to run more.
- When drying clothes, do not overfill the dryer and use the automatic setting if available. Dry loads back-to-back if possible, but remember to clean the lint screen between each load.
- Ensure that the outside clothes dryer air vent is well-sealed.
- Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler and reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency.
- To conserve water and energy, only wash full loads of laundry.
- Buy a dryer with a moisture sensor setting. The dryer will automatically shut off when the clothes are dry, saving both energy and water.
- Because your microwave uses 70% less energy, use it to reheat or warm up food.
- Toasters are great for small jobs. They one third to one-half of the energy a toaster oven uses.
- Turn off your oven ten to fifteen minutes before cooking time runs out; food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.
Lighting and other Electrical Equipment
- Turn off lights, TVs, and other equipment when when you leave a room. You'll save electricity, and generate less heat, meaning the air conditioner will run less.
- Use smart power strips. Even when turned off, electronic and other home office equipment can continue to consume electricity when plugged into the wall. Smart power strips automatically turn off when idle and eliminate standby electricity consumption.
- Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary; they replace inside air with outside air.
- Use power management tools. Set monitors and computers to switch to sleep mode when idle for more than a few minutes. This will not only use less energy, but will run cooler and reduce the need for air-conditioning. Turn machines completely off at a power strip when not in use.
Reduce Lighting Cost
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 75% less electricity and produce 90% less heat.
- Make sure bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket.
- One larger wattage bulb is more efficient than two smaller wattage bulbs.
- Directed light, such as for reading, is more efficient than brightly lighting an entire room.
- Clean light bulbs regularly.
- Arrange furniture to take advantage of natural lighting from windows. This will cut down on the use of electricity for lighting.
- Install dimmer switches throughout your house where dimmer lights make sense. Dimming a light by 25% saves an equal percentage of energy.
- Reducing the amount of light bulbs in a light fixture can help conserve energy.
- Paint interior walls a light color so they can reflect light.
- Install a motion sensor on lights in stairwells or on dark landings where light is needed only when passing through.
- Turn off exterior lights in the morning. Better yet, use a timer or install motion detectors so the lights will only come on when they are needed.
- Conserve electricity by turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms for more than 10 minutes.
Installation of a new programmable thermostat
- Set them to raise the temperature during the day when you're not home, and to cool the house down before you arrive home. Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use.
- Increase the comfort of your home while reducing your bills by investing in proper insulation and weatherization products. Reduce air leaks and increase the efficiency of your home by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. Check with the Insulation Contractors Association of America to make sure your home meets current insulation recommendations (http://www.insulate.org/consumerinfo.html).
- Check your ducts to see if there are any leaks and seal them with mastic tape if needed. Caulk and weather-strip doors, windows and pipe clearances. You can save as much as 10% on cooling costs relatively inexpensively by sealing these leaks.
Maintaining your Air Condition
- Ensure that your HVAC system is properly sized for your home and correctly installed. Bigger is not always better.
- At the beginning of cooler or warmer weather have a professional come out to inspect your HVAC system.
- Have your duct system checked for air leaks and proper insulation.
- Consider installing a "whole house fan" to improve circulation and ventilation throughout your home.
- Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should be shaded.
- Check air filters once a month and replace at least every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder than necessary. If your air-conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models.
Ventilation and Insulation of the attic
- Proper ventilation reduces the temperature and moisture buildup, which can cause the air conditioner to work harder. Proper insulation with high R-value insulation will keep more cool air in the house.
- A properly landscaped home can significantly reduce your household energy consumption for heating and cooling. Consult your local nursery for information on trees and shrubbery that can serve as shade in the summer and wind blocks in the winter. You should consider mature size, growth rate, strength and brittleness before planting.
- If buying a new house, you will lower your heating and cooling bills by choosing a house in a site that is synergistic with the climate and weather patterns. Direct sun exposure would be preferred in a cooler climate while a shaded area would be ideal for a hotter climate.
- Keep window and drapes closed on hot days to reduce radiant solar gain.
- If your home has single pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film.
- When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.
- Consider a tankless water heater: they are 35% to 45% more efficient, and you will never run out of hot water.
- When shopping for a computer consider buying a laptop. Laptops use 50% of the energy used by a typical desktop PC when plugged in and just 1% of the energy when running on batteries.
- If you are planning to buy a new home consider buying a smaller home. Smaller houses are more energy efficient than larger houses.
Some tips provided by:
It's Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living by Crissy Trask. Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2006.
The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. New York: Three Rivers Publishing, 2007