In recognition of Earth Day, this week, I’m sharing a few simple tips that each of us can take to contribute to sustaining the planet. In Monday’s article, I listed ten ways to save water. Tuesday’s post included five simple ways to cut your use of electricity.
Today I’d like to get into the single largest area of energy use for most of us: heating and cooling.
Check out this list of a dozen straight-forward ways to reduce the amount of energy we use keeping our spaces warm in the winter and cool in the summer:
1. Check Your ‘Stats: Most of us only look at the thermostat when we feel a need to change it. So it’s easy to get complacent about how much AC or heating energy we actually use. Heating and cooling costs make up 54% of the typical home energy bill according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Start by taking a few minutes to understand how your thermostat works.
3. Let Your Thermostat Program Itself! Better yet, check out the Nest thermostat. We bought one a few months ago and it’s freakishly programmable. It comes with an iPhone app that allows you to control your home environment remotely. It even “learns” when we’re away, sleeping or otherwise less likely to need heating or cooling. We’re well on our way to saving enough cash on our energy bills to pay for this cool gadget. According to this article, many homeowners are saving up to 20% using just the built-in features of the Nest. I highly recommend it.
4. Check your filters. Decreased airflow = extra run time for your system, so keep air flowing freely. We swap our filters out the first weekend of every month as a habit. Seems like a no-brainer, but I had an Air Conditioning service guy once tell me that he often sees units break down in half their expected life span just because they were unnecessarily overworked due to dirty filters. This is the single easiest way to prolong the life of your HVAC system.
5. Clean your vents and ducts regularly. Also make sure nothing is blocking the intake or output vents so air circulates more readily.
6. Try Reusable Filters: We invested in a reusable filter for our main intake vent and we wash it monthly. This cuts waste and saves money over the long run.
7. Bundle Up! Toss on socks and a sweatshirt in the winter and set your heat as low as you can.
8. Keep a Blanket on the Couch. You’re more likely to keep the heat down it if it’s handy.
9. Open Wide! In winter, keep the shades or curtains on your south-facing windows open during the day to let in natural sunlight and heat. Close them at night to reduce the radiating cold effect of the windows.
10. Chill Out! In the summer – wear shorts and go barefoot around the house – and set your AC as high as you comfortably can.
11. Be More Shady: During the summer, keep shades or curtains closed during the day to block the sun’s heat and open them at night to take advantage of the cooling effect of the exposed glass.
Start by checking the settings on your heating and cooling system this week and determine where you can save. Try a few more of these tips and you’ll soon be cashing in. It will not only pay off for you personally, but it will contribute to your work as a Change Agent for the planet.
Tomorrow we’ll get into transportation as a source of savings and a topic of environmental awareness.
Question for Chatter: In what other ways have you cut your Heating and Air Conditioning costs?