Many Ways to Save Energy - at home
There are lots of ways to save energy around the house. Let me share with you some of the ways that I'm saving energy, and tell you about the effectiveness of these measures.
Even if you're aware of some of these techniques, I'm confident you'll get a new perspective from my experience. In any event, it's worthwhile to see how others are making use of the concepts. Such information provides us an opportunity to confirm that what we're doing is headed in the right direction.
I have 7 topics to discuss. Let's look a quick look at key topics and then link to more detailed pages on the subjects of:
- Sealing and insulating
- Domestic Hot Water
- Well Water Systems
In some cases, my suggestions might purely be to save money, instead of saving energy, but I include them here because saving money is one of the primary reasons for our focus on saving energy.
Heating your home is one of the single largest costs you'll have, especially if you live in a climate where the winters are cold, so if we can find ways to save energy on heating, then we'll save money in a serious way as well.
Consider the following ways to save energy when you heat your home. These should provide savings on natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, propane or whatever you use to heat your home:
- Use the thermostat to turn down the heat. It sounds simple, and it is. Keeping your house a little cooler is less costly and it's very easy to live with. A warm house is just fine, it doesn't need to be hot. And, if you're active, a house that isn't cold will also do just fine.
- Install a programmable thermostat. These work very well and help regulate the temperature in your home to match your activities during the weekdays and weekends.
- Switch from propane to natural gas if you can. This isn't one of the ways to save energy, it's really more of a way to save money, but it's all part of the "energy costs money" equation.
- With rising heating fuel costs and relatively stable electricity costs, ground source heating is becoming more appealing. It uses the natural energy underground to help heat your home.
- I installed a high efficiency furnace, and it's been a big energy saver for me. If you still have a clunker from the 1960s and 1970s, consider a new furnace that has an efficiency rating of 90% or better.
- Using a wood stove to heat your home, or portion of your home can also be a big energy saver, especially if you have your own source of free firewood.
- Also consider space heating as one of the ways to save energy when you heat your house.
If you're not afraid to peak into the future, take a look at a handful of home heating alternatives that I'm considering as a way of eliminate my heating bill forever.
Sealing and Insulating
Whether you're heating or cooling, your ability to seal and insulate your home makes your expenditures for energy go much farther than they would without it.
As my friend Aram says, "It's not the heat you use, it's the heat you lose." Well said, so lets' seal and insulate. Before we do, let's familiarize ourselves with how home insulation helps us with respect to resisting the transfer of energy.
Now, let's look at some techniques for insulating our home.
- One of the single best ways to save energy is to prevent it's escape with an investment in insulation for your home - attic insulation to be specific. Heat rises so up above is where you need to "hold the line."
Heat also migrates (through convection and radiation) down from the hot roof to heat up your ceiling, thus overheating your house in the summer. Therefore, insulation in the attic is one of the ways to save energy year round.
- If you make an airtight house, this enhances the effectiveness of your insulation. If air is moving, your insulation is less effective. Seal things up and the ability of your insulation to resist thermal migration will be greatly improved.
- If you can install thermal window coverings, you'll be ahead of the game with respect to heat and cooling losses that are conducted out through your window panes.
- Another consideration is plantation shutters. This style window treatment has a couple of advantages when it comes to ways to save energy. The shutters are made of wood which offers excellent sun block to minimize solar gain in the summer. In the winter, they offer insulation. With good fitting shutters, you can obtain an effective "dead air" space between the shutters and the window pane that enhances the natural insulating qualities of wood.
- If you install storm windows, they can help with both sealing out drafts and slowing down the migration of heat.
- Installation of high efficiency windows is another way to make certain your house is sealed and insulated. They're very expensive, but pay back dividends in energy savings all year round for many years.
We use lighting almost all the time, so we need to remind ourselves to be more frugal with our use of electricity. Keeping a closer eye on this "flick of the switch" technology can help reduce our electric bill considerably. Electricity is relatively inexpensive, but it adds up when we use it hours on end and day after day.
Consider the following suggestions:
- Turn off the lights. I know it sounds simple, but this is probably one of the best ways to save energy when it comes to lighting. If you don't need the light, then it doesn't need to be on.
- Be a bit more prudent with night lights. They're a wonderful convenience, but do nothing for us while we sleep.
- A yard party at night requires yard lights, but otherwise they are a waste of energy.
- Use motion lights if you're trying to ward off intruders around your house. They're only on when needed, and they alert you to the presence of something in the yard. They're also a way have yard lights only when you need them.
- For lights that stay on a long time, use compact fluorescent bulbs. For lights in a closet that go on for only a few moments or a few minutes, use incandescent bulbs.
I live in a climate where the summers are pleasant, but not hot, and humidity is low all year long. This eliminates the need for air conditioning to cool the house. Nevertheless, there are people who live in very warm climates and require air conditioning to be comfortable.
Here are ways to save energy when it comes to keeping cool:
- Let's start with 3 simple air conditioning tips for those that use air conditioning to survive the dog days of summer.
- Next, let's move to the basement where it's cool year round.
- Have you tried evaporative cooling with your own clothing? It works very well.
- How about using an evaporative cooler for your home? In dry climates they are effective.
- Use a fan to recirculate air in the room. Moving air feels cooler, and it's cheap and easy to do. You can also use a fan to pull air through your house to cool it down.
- If you recirculate air with your furnace, you can stay a bit cooler too.
- How about using basement air to cool the upstairs of your house? It works.
- Don't forget ground source cooling. When you install ground source heating, you automatically get ground source cooling, but there is another way to achieve the same result.
- Create a cool roof to help keep heat from migrating down from the attic into the living spaces of your home.
- Install and use a whole house fan. It's a quick way to cool down your home in the evening.
- Attic ventilation is also a key to keeping cool. Vent the hot air out and it won't heat up your house.
Domestic Hot Water
Next to heating your home and cooling your home, heating water is probably the most costly use of energy in your home. There are way to save energy in this area. Here are some suggestions:
Well Water Systems
Here are some well water system tips that identify ways to save energy for those of us that pump our own water from a well.
Allow me to suggest ways to save energy while using appliances at home. These include various appliances as well as home office equipment.
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