Applying good energy saving ideas is key to maximizing your home energy savings. A home energy monitoring system can be used to measure the results of how well those ideas are implemented.
In this section we will explore how to reduce energy costs in air conditioning, home lighting and hot water systems. We'll show you when it is a good idea to use a programmable thermostat and when it is not. We'll also take a look at power strips that can save energy by eliminating vampire loads on electronic equipment. Insulation tips and home automation systems are areas we plan to tackle in the near future.
Let's assume you have installed a home energy monitor, taken a number of single-point readings with your plug-in meter and have done a home energy audit using the Power Panel Profiler to document your energy usage baseline.
In the process you discovered a number of small things which have been corrected. You have seen a 5 to 10 percent drop in the kilowatt-hour usage on your electric bill when compared with bills from a year ago. Great! You are off to a good start!
But, you were looking for a 15 to 20 percent drop in your bill, not just 5 to 10 percent, weren't you? To get there, you'll need to apply some energy saving ideas to get that next 10 to 15 percent. There are a lot of energy saving ideas out there so how can you know which ones will be the most effective?
Let's start by taking a look at your baseline. If you used the Profiler, your baseline should be highly detailed so nothing will get overlooked. If you did not use the Profiler, you should still have a good idea of where the big power users are in your home. That's where the most energy dollars get spent.
In moderate and warm climates the top three home energy consumers are generally cooling, hot water heating and lighting. In colder climates, energy for heat trumps energy to cool but is generally produced by fossil fuel combustion such as natural gas or fuel oil.
The energy saving ideas we explore are listed below...
What is the best way to prioritize these energy saving ideas? Here's a suggestion: Why not start with the lowest cost idea that affects the greatest amount of energy consumption? For example, lets look at central air conditioning. Start by evaluating programmable thermostats since they have a direct impact on the run time of all of the components in your HVAC system.
If you have a heat pump, look into installing an outdoor thermostat to optimize the run time of the compressor and auxiliary heat strips. Also check your home's duct work for holes or leaks and see if additional insulation is needed.
If your HVAC system is more than ten to twelve years old, you may want to consider upgrading it to a newer, more efficient unit. We'll show you how to compare SEER ratings and calculate the savings so you can make a well informed decision. By the same token, if your furnace is getting on in years, the AFUE rating can be used to determine the energy savings of newer, more efficient models.
Moving on to hot water, start by insulating the hot water tank and install a timer to control the heating element. Look into insulating hot water piping and consider an instant hot water system which adds great convenience and saves money to boot. Evaluate the effectiveness of drain water heat recovery or a tankless water heater if a large amount of hot water gets consumed at your home, i.e. teenagers taking long, hot showers.
Energy saving ideas abound for home lighting with the recent emergence of LED's. Compact fluorescents, referred to as CFL's, have been replacing incandescent bulbs for some time now. Although energy savings is good, some environmental concerns remain as to the trace levels of mercury in these bulbs. LED's do not have this problem. They have even better energy savings than CFL's and their extremely long bulb life is beginning to offset their higher cost.
Dimmers and occupancy sensors are another way to reduce lighting costs as well as outdoor motion sensors on security lights. Some dimmers work with CFL's and LED's which reduces their low energy draw even further.
If you have built an energy baseline by putting our Power Panel Profiler to work, you can use your home energy monitor and/or plug-in meter to measure and record the new energy readings. Update the Profiler as each new idea is implemented to see what the savings will be on your next electric bill.