Common Sense Ways to Save Energy

A Quick Guide Part 1

Saving energy does not mean having to give up comfort or going without. Below are simple tips that will help you and your family save energy andmoney while living well. Part 1 in this series covers heating & cooling equipment. . Remember rebates and incentives may be available in your area. Rebates and incentives are funded by the Energy Efficiency surcharge collected by utility companies and paid for monthly by consumers like you and I. For more information on incentives and rebates that may be available near you, refer to the following: In Massachusetts check out MasSave in Rhode Island it’s EnergyWise and in Connecticut you have EnergizeCT

Heating and Cooling

Common Sense Ways to Save Energy - hvac
The photo above of a typical furnace clearly shows the location of the air filter.
  1. If your home has ductwork you probably have a furnace as part of your heating system. With a furnace, it is important to maintain a clean air filter. Most furnace filters are easily accessible once you know what to look for. See pic above. Simply slide the filter out to examine. If dirty replace it. Replacement filters are inexpensive and readily available. Consider the following:
  • Replace the filter at the beginning of each season
  • Furnace use will dictate how often a filter should be changed
  • Flat filters will clog more quickly than pleated ones

Dirty filters can slow airflow and make your heating & air conditioning system  (HVAC) work harder.  The primary purpose of a clean filter is to protect the HVAC equipment. At the end of the day it’s a small investment, reaping large dividends in the form of less maintenance and longer equipment life. 

  1. Whether you have a furnace that moves air through ductwork, a boiler that moves hot water through pipes or some variation of the two, have your system serviced at least once every two years. If your system is more than ten years old it should be serviced annually. Well-maintained systems lead to higher performance and lower energy bills.
  2. Adjusting your thermostat by a few degrees can lead to big energy savings.  When leaving your home for the day or going to bed in the evening adjust the setting downward or upward depending on the season. The energy required to bring your home back to the ideal temperature upon returning is greater than the energy usage to maintain that temperature throughout the day.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat that will save you time and money by performing the above tasks automatically. These units can be adjusted remotely via a smartphone, tablet, or computer and some can even sense when you are home or alert you when your air filter needs to be changed. Rebates and incentives may be available to purchase programmable thermostats.
Common Sense Ways to Save Energy - thermostat
A typical programmable thermostat.
  1. Use the fan setting on your window AC during the evening when the air outside is cool.
  2. Have the evaporator and condenser coils on your system cleaned regularly. Dirty coils will reduce your system’s ability to cool during the summer and will lead to longer run times, thus increasing energy costs and reducing the life of your equipment.
  3. Seal and insulate your ductwork for increased savings and comfort. Many older homes and even some newer homes, have ductwork that is poorly sealed or not sealed at all. Most ductwork runs through unconditioned areas such as attics and basements. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve system efficiency by as much as 20 percent or more. No more cold room at the end of the hall. Remember to check with your local utility company as rebates and incentives may be available to seal & insulate ductwork.
  4. When building a new home or replacing heating and cooling equipment in an existing home, it is crucial that the new system be sized correctly. The right size equipment is important for performance and comfort. Remember, bigger is not better when it comes to heating and cooling equipment. An oversized system is going to cycle on and off more often. Frequent on/off cycling leads to lower comfort levels and reduces the overall life of your equipment. Rebates and incentives may be available to purchase new equipment.
  5. Make sure supply and return registers are not blocked by furniture, drapes or carpeting. Air needs to circulate freely. 
  6. Ceiling fans should rotate clockwise at a low speed in the winter. The resulting gentle updraft pushes warm air, which naturally rises, back down. In the summer, set your fan to counterclockwise which creates a downward breeze. Remember, ceiling fans don’t actually cool rooms, they circulate air. For this reason, ceiling fans should be turned off when no one is home to enjoy the benefits. 
  7. During cold months open curtains to allow for passive solar heat gain, closing at night to retain warmth. In warmer months, draw curtains closed to prevent passive solar heat gain and open at night to allow cooler air in.
  8. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west-facing sides of your home. They will provide shade during the summer and allow the sun in during the winter when the trees have dropped their leaves.

If you’d like more information on how you can minimize energy consumption while making your home more comfortable and affordable all year round, then contact Energy Geeks. Our mission is to provide the most comprehensive and efficient solutions to reduce energy use in your home. 

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the staff at anergy geeks