Energy Conserving Tips for “Fall Back” Savings

Photo from Secure Lite Window Company

In the United States, we change our clocks in the spring for Daylight Savings Time and in the fall for Standard Time. As Sunday November 6 approaches, we welcome the moment to set our clocks back by one hour, since our days are shorter and the nights get longer. As a constant reminder, do not forget to change the batteries in your fire alarms and change the air furnace filters in your home.

Many of these things are recommendations you have heard before, but with the cost of fuel and electricity going up, we all could use that extra money to spend on something else more utilitarian. Here are some practical energy and money-saving tips to help you prepare to winterize your home:

  • Change your air furnace filter

Based on the type of filter you have, we suggest that you change your air filters every 3 to 6 months, based on usage and indoor air quality. Filters help to capture airborne allergens and pollutants that could trigger health ailments and such things as carpet soiling. Proper maintenance of your air furnace will help to optimize the performance of your system, especially during the cold days of the winter season.

  • Unplug appliances and electronics

Many appliances like washing machines, dryers, electronics, cell phone chargers and other electrical appliances tend to draw a lot of power when they are still turned off and plugged into the socket. To prevent constant draining of your power, unplug those electrical-related items.

  • Check for air leakage

During the winter months especially, warm indoor air can seep through any size space and escape out of your home. Be sure to secure around your windows and doors to prevent this loss of energy and rising heating costs.

  • Turn off the lights

Unknowingly, we tend to leave lights on in unoccupied rooms. Try using Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) in place of your standard incandescent light bulb. These light bulbs remind you of a neon light, but use 75% less energy and lasts up to 10 times longer than your standard bulb.

  • Allow natural light during the day

Instead of keeping your blinds or curtains closed during the day (which keeps your house cooler by the way), allow the sunlight to shine in and warm the inside of your home. This will help to reduce the use of your air furnace and saves energy! Cha-ching$

  • Unblock vents

If you have anything like furniture, boxes or other storage items in the front of your vents, this will block the flow of air into your living area and put undue strain on your air furnace. If air is not flowing freely from your registers into air returns, this could pose to be a safety hazard and increase your energy costs.

  • Wash with cold water when possible

We know that washing with hot water will dry your skin out from its natural moisture. The same concept applies to your clothes. If you have to use hot water for certain items, that is ok, but where you can transition to using cold water will save the wear on your clothes and save energy. Try to accumulate enough clothes to wash once a week. Frequent washing with your washing machine, as well as your dishwasher, will increase the wattage of energy that you use.

  • Reduce your water heater settings

The ideal setting for the water heater in many homes is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. By maintaining a set temperature level, corrosion and mineral build-up is decelerated. Be sure to apply according to the temperature levels in your area and your appliance manuals for suggested temperature settings to help them operated to their maximum potential.

These are just a few practical tips to apply to your home. Preparing your home now to use less energy will show significant savings in your monthly energy bills.

“January in July”: The Mysterious Case of Over-Cooling in the Summer

ColdIn the sweltering heat of the summer you may have noticed the contrast between the high temperatures outside and the frigid indoor temperatures of certain buildings. In the New York Times‘ Sunday Review, Elisabeth Rosenthal noted this common disparity, pointing out how she often needs to wear a sweatshirt indoors when the weather outside is close to 100 degrees.

The recommended setting for a thermostat during the summer is 78 degrees, which helps conserve energy costs and fights against increasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, many homes and businesses set their thermostats to temperatures in the low 70s or high 60s. Many are aware of this trend, which explains why some will go to a movie theater simply to escape the heat.

Rosenthal explains that this is likely attributed to the expectation of having “January in July.” Alan Hedge, a Cornell University professor specializing in Design and Environmental Analysis, states that “in the United States there is a strong marketing emphasis on cold. When you get a soda it’s chock full of ice. We serve beer chilled. We make a virtue of freezing things.”

And certainly it’s the people being chilled too. Low indoor temperatures were once a necessary trend, but many wonder if it’s necessary now when air conditioning has become such a staple of residences. Businesses across the world have started to reduce what is known as “over-cooling.” Whether it’s Italian energy company Eni or Japan’s Cool Biz initiative to increase thermostats to around 80 degrees, the issue has been noted and solutions are being offered.

While some may enjoy the cold or not deem it necessary to do anything about over-cooling, Rosenthal argues that the rising cost of energy and the increase of greenhouse gas emissions make this is a necessary endeavor.