Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency are two sides of the same coin. Most people think they mean the same thing, but they don’t.
Energy conservation means reducing the level of energy use by turning down a thermostat, or turning off a light, or turning up the temperature of your refrigerator.
Energy efficiency means getting the same job done while using less energy. Efficiency is usually done by replacing an older, less efficient appliance with a new one.
You’ll learn how to get your home ready for summer. You’ll learn how to be prepared in case the power goes out.
WHAT TO DO TO GET YOUR HOME “ENERGY READY” FOR SUMMER
Before it gets too warm, it’s time to make sure you’re ready for hot weather.
This doesn’t mean running out and buying the latest swim wear. It means checking your home’s heat and air-conditioning system.
First, change your filters in
your heating/cooling system. Change them regularly – at least monthly.
Next change your thermostat over to “cool” and test the system by turning the temperature down. If the air conditioner does not turn on, first check to make sure no breakers are tripped. If you can’t figure out the problem, call your heating and air conditoning repair person. Calling early may keep you from making an “emergency” call when the temperatures are soaring and the repair people are too busy.
If your cooling system turns on, make sure it is putting out adequate cooling. If it’s not, and you can’t figure out the problem, call your heating and air conditoning repair person. Make sure you set it at 78 degrees.
If your air conditioner needs replacement do it BEFORE the HOT WEATHER HITS because heating & air conditioning repair people will be very busy. And more than likely, some other things around your home need attention as well. Your air ducts may need testing for leaks and then sealed. Your attic insulation probably has compacted, so you need to add an additional 5 to 8 inches. Your windows and doors and other parts of the building envelope may need caulking and weather stripping. You need solar window film to keep out the heat.
Consider changing your old thermostat to a programmable one. You can save up to $100 a year by using a new sset-back thermostat. If your thermostat is really old and uses a mercury switch (a glass tube filed with silvery substance) call your local public works department to find out how to dispose of this toxic material.
If you cover your air conditioner’s condenser unit (the part that is outside the house) for the winter, take off the cover and hose down the coils. Clear areas around the condenser unit so that it has full air flow.
Install ceiling fans or whole house fans to help reduce your need to use the air conditioner.
Take down the old storm windows, if you live in areas where you need them, and put up screens in their place.
SUMMERTIME ENERGY-SAVING TIPS
These tips are designed to help you choose effective ways to reduce your energy bills. Some measures may not be relevant depending on climate, the age of your home and appliances, and past improvements made to your home.
The savings numbers are based
on your total summer electric bill. Equipment mentioned must be electric
powered for estimates to be accurate.
FAST AND FREE
The average home spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs. But you can lower your energy bills and help save the environment at the same time!
Be a speedy chef
- Nothing is more energy efficient for cooking than your microwave. It uses two-thirds less energy than your stove.
Push a button to wash your dishes
- Surprise! Your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. Then let dishes air-dry to save even more!
Fill up the fridge
- Having lots of food in your fridge keeps it from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn’t have to work as hard to stay cool.
Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to reduce energy consumption while saving money. Here are some additional suggestions you can do at home, at absolutely no cost to you.
Turn up your thermostat
Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather. (Save: 1 – 3 percent per degree, for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees)
Use your appliances wisely
To help prevent electricity outages, avoid running your appliances during peak hours, — from 4
- to 6 p.m. — or anytime an electricity emergency is declared.
- Do your laundry efficiently by using the warm or cold water setting for
washing your clothes. Always use cold
water to rinse clothes. (Save: 4 percent)
- Line dry clothes whenever you can. (Save up to 5 percent)
- When you need to use the dryer, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the clothes dryer lint trap after each use. (save: 0.5 percent)
- Conserve energy by running your dishwasher only when it is fully loaded, and turn off the dry cycle and air dry dishes instead. (save: 1 percent)
Operating swimming pool filters and cleaning sweeps efficiently
- Reduce the operating time of your pool filter and automatic cleaning sweep to four to five hours, and only during off-peak time. (Save: 1-2 percent per hour of reduction)
Eliminate wasted energy
- Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use. (Save: 2%)
- Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they aren’t in use-most new electronics use electricity even when switched “off.” Turn computers and printers off at the power strip. (Save: 1-2 percent)
- Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t really need it. This will save you up to $150 per year! (Save: 10-20 percent)
INEXPENSIVE ENERGY SOLUTIONS
Make a quick trip to your local hardware store to purchase inexpensive energy-saving tools and equipment.
Replace air conditioner filters
Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use. Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit. (Save: 1-2 percent)
Plug your home’s leaks
Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers. (Save: up to 2 percent)
Choose ENERGY STAR® products
- Buy ENERGY STAR® certified table lamps and light fixtures, and replace
your incandescent light bulbs that are used more than two hours per day with
ENERGY STAR® compact fluorescent bulbs. For example, install compact
fluorescent bulbs in your porch
light if you leave it on overnight. (Savings: for each bulb you’ll save 0.2
percent for each hour the bulb operates on a typical day. Therefore, replacing
an incandescent bulb that burns 10 hours per day will save 2 percent)
- Buy ENERGY STAR® certified torchieres. (Save: up to 1 percent for each hour/day that it’s on)
- Install an ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostat. (Save: 1-3 percent)
GOOD ENERGY SAVING INVESTMENTS
Planning to do some remodeling soon? Time to replace old appliances? Consider these energy efficiency suggestions when you make purchases.
Install a whole house fan
A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows while forcing hot air out through your attic vents. Use after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees, and in the early morning to cool your house and help reduce your air conditioning use. (Save: up to 5 percent)
Install window shading
Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home. (Save: 5 percent)
Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. (save 5-10 percent)
Invest in a new air-conditioning unit
If your air conditioner is on the way out, buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner. (Save: up to 10 percent)
Seal your ducts
Leaking ductwork accounts for 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home, so have your ducts tested and have any leaks or restrictions repaired by a qualified contractor. Note: duct cleaning is not the same as duct sealing. (Save: 10 -20 percent)
Replace your refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR® model
Refrigerators with a top or bottom freezer design can save you an additional 2-3% on your bill compared to a side-by-side design. (Save: 10 percent)
Increase attic insulation
If existing insulation level is R-19 or less, consider insulating your attic to at least R-30. (Save: 10 percent)
Install ENERGY STAR® windows
If your windows are due for replacement, ENERGY STAR® windows can make your house more comfortable year-round. (Save: up to 10 percent)
WHAT TO DO IF THE POWER GOES OUT IN THE SUMMERTIME
There are many things that can cause a power outage during warmer months. It could be that a car accident has taken out the power lines in your neighborhood, or it’s some other man-made problem. It could be an animal shorting out the power lines. Or, it could be bad weather.
Whatever the cause, there is no need to panic.
The first thing you should do is to determine whether you are the only one without power. If you know where your fuse box is, check for tripped switches or blown fuses. If that is the problem, reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If the problem is more widespread, call your local electricity company. The phone number is in your phone book, and it is also on your electricity bill.
Remember – the blackout will pass shortly. If a rolling blackout is implemented in your area, the electricity should come back on within 30-90 minutes. Until then, stay in the coolest part of the house. If you are outside, move indoors. Keep these tips in mind:
- UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should
ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.
- If there are downed power lines in your neighborhood, do not go near them. Call 9-1-1 first to report the emergency. Then call your electricity company. Check to make sure that no children or animals go near the wires – they could still be electrictrified and are lethal.
- A rolling blackout during warm weather will most likely occur during the evening peak hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because it may be dark in rooms with no lights, keep flashlights handy. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power strip.
- Drink plenty of water. You will perspire and lose water, so stay hydrated.
- Dress to stay cool – wear layers that can be removed if you get hot.
- Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.
- If you’re hot, take a cool shower to reduce your body temperature.
- If you have a pool or a neighbor with a pool, it’s s good time to take a dip. The cooler water will bring your body temperature down and help you to stay cool.
- Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed appropriately and are staying cool.
- Drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out in a rolling blackout. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.