Saving money is at the forefront of many homeowners' minds, and managing home energy bills is a powerful way to cut down monthly expenses. When you're looking to cut back on your energy use, there are two major strategies you may employ: energy conservation and energy efficiency. Although distinctly different, they can work together to help you meet your energy-saving goals.
Energy conservation simply means using less energy by using less of the services that require energy. This is a lifestyle change that requires very little expense, but some households may find that it cuts into their home comfort. If you want to practice energy conservation in your home, try the following practices:
- Take shorter showers. Allow about five minutes for each. This will reduce the amount of hot water you use, which reduces the amount of fresh, cool water the water heater has to bring up to its standby temperature.
- Turn the water heater's temperature down. Most water heaters keep water at 140 degrees, which uses up extra heating energy and can lead to scalding. Moving the dial down to 120 degrees provides water hot enough for household use while also lowering your water heating bill.
- Turn the thermostat back. Dialing back five degrees on heating and cooling can cut your energy bill by as much as 5 percent in some cases. You can add an extra sweater or gather around a fireplace in winter, and in summer, open windows may help supplement the A/C. Also, turn it back when you'll be out of the house for eight hours or more, and overnight while you sleep.
- Use a ceiling fan. Using a ceiling fan in the summer can help cool you down, and setting it into reverse in the winter can maintain warmth. A ceiling fan in its winter mode will keep warm air from rising up and out of your living spaces by gently displacing it downward. This can help you feel more comfortable even when your thermostat is set back.
If you want to practice energy conservation in your home, you should speak with your household about our energy-saving goals and the practices you want to implement. Allow a few weeks for the household to transition into the new lifestyle.
Energy efficiency means using appliances that do their work with less of an energy cost. While upgrading to energy-efficient appliances has an upfront cost, not every energy-efficient practice requires a new appliance. For those that do, there are a number of state, local and federal incentives to help homeowners make the transition. Speak to your local HVAC experts to learn more about these incentives, and ask them about the following upgrades:
- Upgrading a furnace to a condensing furnace or a hybrid heat pump system can boost heating efficiency by anywhere from a few percent to a few hundred percent. That means less energy used for the same winter comfort.
- Insulating your home, especially attic spaces, and sealing any air leaks can help you retain heat in the winter and slow down heat gain in summer. Do this and your heating and cooling systems won't have to work as hard.
- Insulating the water heater can help it retain heat and lower its energy usage. The average American home's water heater accounts for about 20 percent of its energy bills, in part because the tank needs to be kept at a constant temperature at all times. Upgrading to a tankless water heater can help you save even more.
- Installing an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) as part of your home ventilation strategy ensures that when you're bringing fresh outdoor air in, you won't be bringing in the outdoor temperature.
- Installing low-flow or aerating faucets and shower heads can reduce the amount of hot water that you use, which reduces your water heating bill. Aerating appliances deliver a similar sensation to high-flow faucets and shower heads.
To determine where best to focus your efforts in energy efficiency, you may want to schedule an energy audit with your local HVAC experts. That can help you get a clearer picture of how your home uses and loses energy.
To learn more about energy conservation and energy efficiency, contact us today at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. We're proud to serve our neighbors in the Baltimore area.
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