The following article is by MPFJ staff writer, Miss T from Prairie Eco-Thrifter. If you want to learn how to live your dream life in a sustainable, healthy, and money savvy way, check out her site here.
Did you know that heating and cooling your home takes more energy than other household systems and accounts for between 45 and 55 percent of your utility bills, on average? This means that it’s an area where you could be able to save some money and often all that is needed is just a few simple strategies or changes put in place.
I’ve found that the simpler something is to use, the easier it is to set and forget, and this applies to many of the methods we use these days to heat and cool our homes. I mean, back in the days when the only form of home heating was a wood fire, you had to keep loading in those logs or the fire would go out and the warmth would go with it! This meant that you were very aware of just how much energy was being used, especially if you were the one chopping the wood!
The Whole-House Approach
The trick to saving money with heating and cooling in the home is to adopt a ‘whole-house’ approach. It is simply not effective to just focus on one room or area of the house; it is important to think of the building as one entity. It is possible to enjoy a saving in cash, as well as those nasty environmental emissions, of between 20 and 50 percent.
Don’t Forget to Optimize the Thermostat
The simplest strategy, and one you have probably heard before, is to adjust the thermostat that controls the temperature in the house. Just by lowering it 2 or 3 degrees in winter and raising it the same amount in summer will quickly show up as savings in next your utility bill. Now, I don’t like sitting around the house feeling cold in winter or sweltering in summer, but I’ve implemented this strategy and truly haven’t noticed much difference.
The thing is, you probably won’t even notice those few degrees’ difference either, on most days. In winter, if you are feeling a little cool, go add another layer of clothing; you really don’t need to be sitting around the house in short sleeves anyway. In summer, if you’re feeling a bit warm, grab a cool drink with loads of ice to help cool yourself down. These are much cheaper options than fiddling with that thermostat.
There are times when you don’t need to have the house cooling or warming to the extent that you do when everyone is home and hanging out. The ambient temperature at night certainly doesn’t need to very warm because everyone is snuggled up in their nice warm cozy beds. Save money by setting the thermostat lower during the night and set the timer to raise the temperature an hour before the first person gets up in the morning and an hour before the last person usually goes to bed at night. You will be amazed at the savings just this one simple strategy will achieve.
Likewise, when there is no one home during the day, the empty house certainly doesn’t need to be as warm as when people are home. Again, set the timer to reduce the heat before the last person leaves and to raise the temperature about an hour before the first person in the household is expected home. If you have pets indoors during the day, buy them a coat to keep them warm. Always use the ‘auto’ setting rather than the ‘on’ setting; this allows the appliance to cut in and out to maintain the set temperature, so there are times when it isn’t using power. The ‘on’ setting keeps the unit working constantly, obviously using much more power.
Keep Up With Appliance Maintenance
Air conditioners and furnaces have filters to keep the air clean and these get pretty dirty from time to time. Mark a date on the calendar to clean the filters every month and you will again notice a big saving off your power bills. The appliance has to work harder, using more power, when the filters are clogged and dirty.
Make sure that all the supply and return vents, baseboard heaters and warm air registers are clear and are not blocked by carpeting, furniture, drapes or anything else. Allow a free-flow of warm or cool air into and around the room to get the full benefit, with the least input of power. Don’t shut off vents to some rooms as this actually causes the unit to work harder, using extra power in doing so. When using exhaust fans in either the bathroom or the kitchen, make sure you turn them off after you have finished. Leaving them running unnecessarily is just wasted money.
Drapes / Window Dressings Are Your Friends!
A couple of years ago we fitted heavy drapes in our house, on all the windows that face south. During winter, they are open during the warmest daylight hours to let the warmth of the sun in and closed from mid-afternoon to morning to help maintain the warmth indoors. In summer, we keep them closed when the sun is on that wall of the house but open them late in the afternoon, as well as the windows, to catch the cool afternoon and evening breezes we are lucky enough to get here. We have had two winters and one summer since the drapes were fitted and the difference in our power usage was incredible. The savings have already paid for some of the drapes!
Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances
When you need to replace heating and cooling appliances, look for the most energy-efficient models that suit your purpose. These days it is quite easy to compare different models with the Energy Star rating system. These few simple strategies will really help you save money with the heating and cooling of your home and your household will also be helping the planet.
How about you all?
Share your experiences by commenting below!
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