One of today’s hot topics is saving energy. Whether you support renewables or prefer to use fossil fuels, conserving energy will help you save money that you can use for that vacation you’ve needed or the new car you’ve always wanted. You don’t need to be Super-man to conserve—these tips will help you become a home energy expert in no time.
- Use your yard to your advantage
It’s easy to consider your backyard as something that just sucks up water and energy. But, there are steps you can take to reverse this and actually use your yard to save electricity and money. First, make sure to plant mostly native plants. These plants are suited to your climate so you shouldn’t have to use excessive water or buy expensive soil additives to make them grow. Secondly, while keeping native plants in mind, plant trees that can provide shade near your house. Help lessen the heat in your home in the summer, which means less money you need to spend on air conditioning. And, lastly, don’t use your clean, drinking water to water your lawn and plants. It is fairly easy to install a large barrel to collect drinking water from places like your roof that you can then use to water plants.
- Build your home to fit the climate, don’t try to change the climate for your home
This one is really only applicable if you are considering building your own home, but there are many ways to build your house with the climate in mind. For example, if you live in a colder area, north facing windows are a bad idea because they can lose a lot of heat. Windows on the south side of your house are always a good idea. Overhangs will shade windows and stop the sun from overheating the house in the summertime. If you already own a home that is not built with the sun in mind, Phillip Murphy (a relative to the writer), the owner of Proxy homewatch, says that closing the window blinds during the summer when the sun is shining in also helps. In the winter, windows on the south facing side of your home should be left uncovered to let in any heat from the sunshine, according to Murphy. High ceilings will help the hot air rise above the areas that people walk around in. Big windows combined with screens will let in fresh air that cools down the house. If you know the weather where you live and look for a house that takes advantage of this, your energy use could decrease dramatically.
- Be smart with your plugs
Although people have tested and more or less disproved the theory that unused but plugged in chargers waste a lot of energy, other appliances are not so low profile. The U.S. Department of Energy says that people waste 5-10% of their residential energy by keeping appliances plugged in all day. Some appliances that suck up energy are TVs, toasters, lamps, desktop computers, stereos, and coffee makers. Try to turn off these devices if you aren’t using them; it may not seem like a big deal but every bit adds up. Turning off lights is a big energy saver as well. Dwayne Spencer, the technician at Lux apartments, says that he always turns off his lights when not using them, and tries to get by with less light instead of more. It can be hard to remember to unplug to many things, but luckily there are plug in timers to help. Lets say you have a lamp that you like to be on during the day, but off at night. A plug timer will turn off the lamp at a preset time every day, so you don’t have to remember to do it.
- Be more aware of your thermostat
It’s so easy these days to set your thermostat to a temperature like 73 and just forget about it, especially if you live in an apartment. But this can suck up huge amounts of energy. If you turn your thermostat down by 10-15 degrees at night in the winter for 8 hours, you can save 5-15% on your heating bill. That’s a big deal. And if you don’t think you can make it for 8 hours with your living space a bit colder, just turn the thermostat down a couple degrees—you’ll still get some benefits. The same goes for the summer; try to turn down the AC if you’re not going to be at home. If you are home, turn on some overhead fans and open some windows to get a breeze instead of cranking up the air conditioning to full blast. Your wallet will thank you. Along the lines of heating and cooling, Josh Guthrie, the head of residential & commercial Sales for Bullman Heating and Air, says there are many ways to make a difference. You can replace inefficient windows and doors that are sources of leakage and make sure to buy efficient brands. You can also better insulate your attic and crawl space.
- Consider renewable energy
While some states have deregulated energy and you can now choose to purchase your energy from renewables, North Carolina lags behind. But, this shouldn’t stop you from considering installing your own renewables at home. Our state isn’t well suited for wind turbines in most places, but solar and geothermal energy will function almost anywhere. The cost of installing solar energy has decreased dramatically in recent years, making it much more affordable. Geothermal energy is advantageous because it doesn’t depend on an uncertain source like the sun. While there are no current subsidies from the state, this could change in the future so be on the lookout. Guthrie says that he gives customers as much information as he can on high efficient and renewable energy, from geothermal all the way to high efficiency heat pumps. He says he gives them his opinion on how going more efficient would benefit them, and that “everyone is receptive to that,’ because they want to save money on utilities. Renewable energy can be helpful in was beyond simple energy conservation as well. Dwayne Spencer says he would love to see solar panels on the roof of Lux apartments because then there would be a backup energy source in case of a blackout, such as the one that happened earlier this year. Whatever you are using it for, renewable energy is always a great way to go.