While everyone wants to save money on their electric bill this summer, sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly how to do that. TXU Energy is all about helping folks figure out ways to cut cost and at their website offers solutions including a usage report on your current energy bill and a quiz to help figure out ways to cut costs.
Many area cities also offer classes on energy efficiency. As an example the City of Plano offers DIY Home Energy Efficiency classes throughout the year. The classes are free and provide information to homeowners to live green and save a little green, too and you don’t have to be a resident to take advantage of the classes either.
Making sure your home is properly weatherized for the summer is a good start in saving money and living a greener lifestyle at home. Melinda Haggerty, the City of Plano’s Sustainability Communications Coordinator offers some tips for folks just getting started on green living and summer home energy efficiency or those old pros who just need a few new ideas.
If you’re new to the process there are a number of good practices for energy conservation to save money, live comfortably and reduce environmental impact over time:
1. Remove existing sources of heat and replace incandescent light bulbs, halogen lights, decorative bulbs and traditional flood lights with either compact flourescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). They use less energy, last longer and burn cooler. About 90 percent of the energy used to create light with an incandescent bulb is wasted on producing heat. The increased heat produced by lighting means more heat to offset with your air conditioner.
2. Use floor and ceiling fans only when you're there to enjoy the breeze. The motors in fans generate heat. If left on in an unoccupied room, the heat offsets the breeze and actually makes the room hotter - the air conditioner working hard. A fan is designed to enhance comfort by accelerating and directing air on a person's skin. They don't keep a room cooler, just you!
3. Learn to use your programmable thermostat, which adjusts the temperature while you're away from home and ensures your comfort when you walk through the door.
4. Use blinds, sheers and drapery to block incoming sunlight from your home. Cover windows in rooms not in use, especially if they face toward direct afternoon sunlight.
If you’ve already begun the process and are just looking to do a bit more, you can combine these smart practices with a few simple changes that are easy to do yourself and cost next to nothing.
1. Install a programmable thermostat and learn how to use it. If no one is home, then program your HVAC to adjust the temperature accordingly. Keep pet safety in mind, but realize most pets don't require the same comfort levels as their owners.
2. Install ceiling fans in frequently used rooms.
3. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity and heat in your home. In the summer, air conditioners are used to de-humidity AND cool your home environment. High humidity levels make warmer temperatures more intense, which leads to setting the temperature on your thermostat lower than needed. Hygrometers are easy to place in the home, inexpensive, and capable of tracking measurements in multiple areas - indoors and outdoors. If the indoor humidity level is above 35 percent, then consider purchasing a dehumidifer for rooms used most frequently. They cost between $50 - $150 dollars and easy to use.
4. Add foam insulation gaskets to all electrical outlets.
5. Regular home maintenance is simple. Caulk around windows and exterior doorways, check the condition of your exterior door sweeps and replace them if needed, then change the air filter on your air conditioner and keep the exterior condenser clean by trimming back grass and hedges, then using a spray bottle and soft brush to clean unit's fins.