Just about everyone is concerned about ways to save energy these days. Rates aren’t going anywhere but up, and as we add more and more electronic devices to our lives, our consumption is growing as well.
Even if you’re fortunate enough not to be worried about paying the bill, you’re probably worried about the condition of the planet and the legacy we’re leaving behind for our kids and their kids.
By now, most of us understand why we need ways to save energy. The question is, how can we do it?
Related Article: It’s Not Easy Going Green: PlaNYC and Doing Your Part to Save Energy.
15 Ways to Save Energy in Your Home
You may be familiar with some of these ways to save energy, and others may be new to you. You may think these small changes won’t amount to much, but the fact is, if you commit to making most of these changes in your NYC residence, you’ll see significant reduction in your energy usage.
1. Install programmable thermostats
Are you still using an old dial thermostat in your home? Upgrading to a new programmable digital model is a low-cost way to save energy consumed by your heating and cooling system without sacrificing comfort.
Today’s new models provide convenience and notification features that make it even easier to save energy. You can create customizable settings that adjust your thermostat according to your daily schedule.
Even with a programmable thermostat that allows for different settings 7 days a week, you probably find yourself running out at unexpected times and forgetting to adjust the thermostat. New high-tech models allow you to change your thermostat settings remotely via your smart phone or tablet.
Related Article: 5 Money Saving Features to Look for in New Thermostats.
2. Turn it up… just a bit
Unless you’re doing something like cooking or exercising, you can probably turn up your thermostat a bit without sacrificing comfort. In summer, keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees when your home is occupied. According to ConEd, turning it down to 75 degrees uses 18% more energy, and 72 degrees uses 39 percent more!
3. Turn it up more when no one is home
According to the US Department of Energy, you can cut your HVAC energy usage between 5 and 15% when you adjust your thermostats by 10 to 15 degrees (higher in summer and lower in winter) when no one is home.
Remember to change that programmable thermostat when you go on vacation!
4. Change air filters monthly
You know that brown haze hanging over the city on a hot day? Your air conditioner’s filter is keeping that smog and dust out of your home. When the filter gets clogged, your air conditioner has to run longer and work harder to cool your space, using more electricity in the process.
To keep your system working efficiently, change the air filter every month during prime cooling season. It’s one of the easiest ways to save energy.
5. Use fans to supplement air conditioning
The cooling effect of moving air can make you and your family more comfortable than a lower temperature setting, and fans use much less electricity than your air conditioner.
6. Add insulation
Especially if you live in an older building, you might be losing quite a bit of your cooled air through poorly-insulated walls. It might pay to add more insulation with a high R-value to keep that expensive cooled air inside where you need it. That way, your air conditioner won’t have to use more energy to replace that lost air.
7. Seal leaks that let cool air escape
Conditioned air can also escape through poorly sealed windows and doors, or even from cracks and holes in your home’s ductwork. If your home often feels drafty, use caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around doors, windows and other openings. Don’t forget any holes or cracks around pipes and wiring coming through the ceiling.
If your home is older, it might be time to think about new windows and better-sealing doors. Also, have your HVAC ducts inspected for holes where cool air can be lost in your walls.
8. Power down electronics
Computers, exercise equipment, entertainment systems and other electronics use a great deal of electricity, and also generate quite a bit of heat. That means your air conditioner has to consume more energy to cool your home. Turn things off when you’re not using them.
9. Keep air flow paths clear
Removing leaves and debris from around your outdoor air conditioning unit prevents dirt from clogging up your system and making it lose efficiency. Also, make sure ducts and vents are not blocked by furniture and clutter.
10. Update your lighting
You may already be aware that switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED lighting will save energy, but did you know that energy-efficient bulbs also generate less heat?
You also may not realize that your old kitchen fluorescent lighting with magnetic ballasts is wasting electricity. Replace them with T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts for the best efficiency.
11. Add lighting controls
We all know that we should turn out the lights when leaving a room. But how often do you run out of the house and forget to turn off lights?
The answer is automated lighting controls, similar to a programmable thermostat. Controlling indoor and outdoor lighting with timers and motion detectors can significantly cut down on waste.
12. Keep out the sun
Keeping out the summer sun means your air conditioning unit doesn’t have to compensate for unwanted heat. Use curtains or blinds to block east, west and south facing windows to minimize energy usage and enhance comfort.
13. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR
If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, a newer Energy Star model will pay for itself in energy savings in a surprisingly short period of time. Also, if you’re planning to replace any appliances, doors or windows, look for the Energy Star label on those as well.
According to the US Department of Energy, these systems can save you $3 to $4 per square foot over the life of the equipment. In addition, you also may be eligible for rebates from your utility company.
Related Article: Be a Hero: Save Money on Energy With Energy Rebates.
14. Upgrade to a VRF HVAC system
When it’s time to upgrade your air conditioning system, consider a Variable Flow Refrigerant or VRF system. This sophisticated new technology is capable of providing not only cooling, but also heat, and even both simultaneously to different areas within the space. The use of multiple air handlers provides the ability to create zones that can be individually controlled. What’s more, these systems are very quiet and energy-efficient because the variable-speed compressor runs only at the capacity needed for the current conditions.
Related Article: 7 Reasons to Choose VRF Technology for Your New Air Conditioning.
15. Don’t forget maintenance
Did you realize that your HVAC system consumes half of the energy used in your home? When it comes to ways to save energy, it’s an obvious target.
Regular cleaning and maintenance of cooling and heating equipment can have a major impact on your energy usage. Call in a certified HVAC service company to change filters, clean coils, seal ducts, check electrical connections and blower motors for optimal efficiency.
BONUS: Regular preventative maintenance also makes it much less likely that your unit will fail during a heat wave!
One of the most important ways to save energy with your air conditioning system is to have it regularly maintained at the beginning and end of each cooling season.
Signing up for a preventative maintenance agreement is the best way to keep your equipment operating efficiently and reliably. You’ll get the best price, you won’t have to remember to schedule your appointment, and you’ll have a contract that tells you what’s included.
Check out our free guide to learn more about getting the right agreement for your needs: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.