>> Monday, April 12, 2010
Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next energy-related challenge:
Save Energy Through Heating and Cooling
To complete this challenge, you can...
- Change your air filter regularly. Most of the time, that means monthly, but you can get filters that last longer. Just remember to change them when they are supposed to be changed. You can even get reusable furnace filters.
- Don't make your A/C or furnace work too hard.
- Keep doors and windows closed tightly.
- Run exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen only when you need them.
- Close the flue in your fireplace when you're not using it.
- Uncover all your vents.
- Keep your air conditioning unit properly maintained. Think of it like a car - sometimes it's going to need a tune-up.
- Cover bare floors in the winter and uncover them in the summer. Adding rugs can improve your comfort level when you're cold, while a bare floor can be cool and soothing on those hot summer days.
- Avoid using your oven on hot days.
- Block the sun.
- In the summer, keep the curtains drawn when the sun is on that side of your house, or install outside awnings over your windows.
- In the winter, use heavy drapes as extra insulation over leaky windows, but keep south facing windows uncovered to allow the sun to warm your home naturally.
- Raise your thermostat a few degrees in the summer and lower it a few degrees in the winter.
- Shoot for a daytime temperature of 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. For each degree that you raise or lower your thermostat, you will save 3-5% off your heating/cooling costs.
- Use a programmable thermostat to automatically raise or lower the temperature settings when you leave home or at night. (If you have a heat pump, it's probably best to ignore this advice unless you have a special programmable thermostat that can raise and lower the temperature gradually.)
- Install and use ceiling fans. But remember that fans cool people, not rooms, so they will only save energy (and money) if you use them correctly. That means:
- Turn the fan off when you leave a room. Think of a fan like a light - it does no good when no one is in the room to use it.
- In the spring and fall, use ceiling fans instead of turning on the A/C.
- In the summer, keep your thermostat set a few degrees higher than your comfort level, and turn your ceiling fans on high. Ceiling fans work along the same lines as a breeze on a hot day.
- In the winter, reverse the direction the fan turns (usually just by flipping a switch), turn the fan on low, and keep your thermostat set lower. The fans will push air toward the ceiling, forcing the warm air down into the room.
- Make sure you get the appropriate size fan for your room. A small fan in a large room is not going to do a good job.
- Landscape smart.
- Plant medium-height trees on the east and west sides of your home to block the sun when it's low in the sky.
- Plant tall deciduous trees on the south side of your home. They'll block out the sun when it's high in the sky in the summer but allow the sun through when it's at a lower angle in the winter .
- Plant dense evergreens on the north side of your home where they'll block cold winter winds.
- Seal leaks and add insulation. Use this DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating from Energy Star.
- Seal and repair leaky air ducts to cut your heating/cooling costs by up to 30 percent.
- Add insulation, and make sure it's installed properly. The best place to add insulation? The attic.
- Check for air leaks around windows, doors, outlets, entrances to attics and crawlspaces, and in attics and basements. Conscious Shopper reader Frank directed me to this smoke test that you can use to find leaks around your windows and doors (although he says you could easily do it with a cigarette or smokey incense).
- Install energy efficient windows and doors.
- Upgrade to a more efficient A/C unit. If you live in a moderate climate, consider getting a heat pump - they are 30% more efficient than a typical air conditioner. Or take a look at geothermal heat pumps, which cost more but are even more efficient and last much longer.
I'm planning on switching to a reusable filter this month. We do the rest of the Baby Steps and Jogging Stride steps except for the landscaping tips because we're renting. I need to check for and seal air leaks, but I can't do the other Marathon Runner tips because of the renting thing.
Sealing leaks and adding insulation is actually a huge thing and may take you more than a week to complete. Don't worry - most of the steps in the next few weeks are super easy, so you should have plenty of time to focus on caulking and insulating.
Will You Take the Challenge?
You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays. Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook!
- image by FxyLxy