June marks the beginning of summer; a time of high humidity and heat that is enough to make anyone vacate indoors. Unfortunately, the increase in temperature equates with an increase in electricity bills and energy use. Prevent high bills and protect the planet by increasing the energy efficiency of your home!
1. Green up your appliances. Appliance use comprises about 18% of a typical energy bill, with the fridge being one of the biggest energy drains. If any of your appliances are more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with energy-efficient models that bear the “Energy Star” logo. Energy Star-rated appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. According to the Energy Star website, if just 1 in 10 homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.
2. Watch the temperature. Almost half a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling. Turn down the thermostat in cold weather and keep it higher in warm weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy, while keeping your thermostat at 78°F in warmer weather will save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat will make these temperature changes for you automatically.
Also, clean your furnace’s air filter monthly during heavy usage. Depending on the age of your furnace, you may want to consider a new one. Today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 80s. If you’re in the market for a new furnace, check out ones that have the Energy Star label.
To keep your home cool in warmer weather, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities, such as washing the dishes, until evening. Whenever possible, use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners. Light clothing in the summer is typically comfortable between 72°F and 78°F. Moving air feels cooler, so a slow-moving fan can easily extend that comfort range to 82°F.
3. Use energy-efficient light. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL can save $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.