Energy Conservation Tips – Heating
The following are a few simple ways for you to make sure your home is efficiently keeping the warm air in and the cold air out.
- Keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees, and set it back even more when you are sleeping or away from your home. You can purchase a programmable thermostat to automatically turn the thermostat down at night and when you are not home. By turning down your thermostat one degree, you can save up to 3 percent on your heating bill.
- Look for a furnace that is ENERGY STAR® approved for energy efficiency.
- Make sure there is adequate insulation in your attic, walls, basement, crawl spaces, and floors. You should also make sure the accesses to your attic are insulated and weather-stripped.
- Check your furnace filter monthly and change it when needed. Keep the space around your furnace clean to ensure it is operating efficiently.
- If needed, have your heating system tuned-up by a professional. Keep all heat registers and air ducts clear of obstructions.
- Install storm windows and doors, and replace any weather-stripping or caulking that may be damaged.
- Remove window air conditioning units from your windows during the winter months, or fill the cracks with weather-stripping. Seal drafty windows with plastic.
- Use a portable electric space heater to add warmth to the room you are in. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.
- Close the fireplace damper when it is not in use. You can also shut the door and close the heat vents in rooms that are not used.
Energy Conservation Tips – Cooling
- During the summer, it can be a difficult and costly task to keep your house cool. Here are a few tips to keep the house cool:
- During the day, block the heat from the sun by closing windows, doors, and curtains.
- To save money on cooling costs turn the thermostat to 80 degrees or higher when you are sleeping or away from home. Raising the temperature by 5 degrees for eight hours can reduce your cooling costs by 3-5 percent.
- Look for an air conditioning unit that is ENERGY STAR approved.
- Avoid creating unnecessary heat and humidity in the house during summer days. Plan to do heat and moisture-creating activities such as washing dishes, doing laundry, bathing, and cooking before noon or past 8 p.m.
- Limit the amount of time you run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans.
Only run them for as long as it takes to get rid of any odors to minimize losing cool air.
- If you use a window air conditioning unit, make sure it fits correctly into the window
to reduce the amount of cool air lost.
- Consider using a window fan, which requires as little as 1/10 the amount of energy
needed to run an air conditioner.
Thermostats and Control Systems
You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat offers a lot of flexibility in its temperature settings. Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, you don’t operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house is not occupied. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label.
General Thermostat Operation
You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. The percentage of savings from setback is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates. In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning, too, by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you are at home and need cooling. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal as you wake or return home. A common misconception associated with thermostats is that a furnace works harder than normal to warm the space back to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. This misconception has been dispelled by years of research and numerous studies. The fuel required to reheat a building to a comfortable temperature is roughly equal to the fuel saved as the building drops to the lower temperature. You save fuel between the time that the temperature stabilizes at the lower level and the next time heat is needed. So, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save.
Choosing and Programming a Programmable Thermostat
Most programmable thermostats are either digital, electromechanical, or some mixture of the two. Digital thermostats offer the most features in terms of multiple setback settings, overrides, and adjustments for daylight savings time, but may be difficult for some people to program. Electro mechanical systems often involve pegs or sliding bars and are relatively simple to program. When programming your thermostat, consider when you normally go to sleep and wake up. If you prefer to sleep at a cooler temperature during the winter, you might want to start the temperature setback a bit ahead of the time you actually go to bed; you probably won’t notice the house cooling off as you prepare for bed. Also consider the schedules of everyone in the household; is there a time during the day when the house is unoccupied for four hours or more? If so, it makes sense to adjust the temperature during those periods.