Tips Around the House
- If you have to ask “what is a solar panel?” now is the time to enjoy the benefits of a lower dependency on fossil fuels and lower energy bills. There are also many additional ways to use less energy including the following tips.
- According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75% of the electricity utilized by consumer electronics is used while the devices are shut off. You can plug your television, computers, stereo, and other consumer electronics on a power strip, and turn the power strip off when you are not using the device(s). Allow devices that lose programming (cable boxes, DVRs, Wiis and other game consoles) to remain plugged in. Turn off the power strips at night and when the house is empty during the day.
- Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Look for the Energy Star label as an initial guide. The savings are substantial.
- Wash your laundry in cold water. It drastically reduces power consumption. You will probably make an exception for your whites, but soaking with bleach should give you great results even here.
- Turn your stove and range down to a simmer as soon as food or water begins to boil. This setting maintains cooking temperature, cooks food more evenly and saves energy.
- Resist the temptation to open the oven door to check food while it is cooking. Each time you open the door, 25% of the oven’s heat is wasted.
- Turn off your conventional oven about 15-20 minutes before the end of cooking time. The leftover heat in the oven will finish the job if you don’t open the oven door.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights whenever possible.
- A 16 cu. ft., auto-defrost Freezer costs about $9 per month to run & an 18 cu. ft., auto-defrost refrigerator/freezer costs about $13.50 per month to run, representing about 15% of your energy usage.
- Of course, the best way to reduce your air conditioning expenses is to reduce heat in your home, especially during the summer months. What is a solar panel going to do to lower your cooling costs? The tips below can help reduce the workload on your air conditioning while a solar panel saves you money on the electricity you do use:
- Set the temperature a little higher. Most people are comfortable with a setting of 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, you’ll save 7-10 percent on electricity for each degree above 78.
- Be sure your filters remain clean. Inspect them on a monthly basis, including any filters that may be in a unit located in the attic. Coils of an outdoor unit should be free of debris and not obstructed by shrubs, plants, etc. Make sure that the return air grill inside your house is not blocked by furniture or other items. A return needs a free flow of air for the unit to operate most efficiently.
- For central air conditioning systems, keep the fan switch on your thermostat in the “auto” position while cooling. This gives you better cooling and humidity control. Keeping the fan switch “on” continuously could cost $25 extra per month on your electric bill. Before going out, turn off the air conditioning or set the thermostat up a few degrees.
- Caulk and weather-strip leaky windows and doors.
- Keep windows and doors closed when the air conditioning is operating. Turn off bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans when the air conditioning is on.
- Use a ceiling fan or portable fan to supplement your air conditioning. A fan can make you feel 3-4 degrees cooler (and costs only a half-cent per hour to operate), allowing you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher and save on cooling costs. Use these only in occupied rooms since fans cool people, not rooms. As a safety precaution, turn off the ceiling fans when you leave your home.
Heating & Hot Water Tips
- What is a solar panel going to do to help keep your home warm and cozy during the winter months? Use these tips for greater comfort at a lower cost on your energy bill.
- Keep the thermostat on your heating system at the lowest comfortable setting. We recommend 68 degrees. Every degree above 68 increases your usage by 7-10 percent.
- Caulk, seal and weather-strip all openings from your home to the outside. Install storm windows or plastic sheeting over old or leaking windows. Eliminating air leaks in your home can save up to 10% in energy usage. Use the Sun to heat your house–open blinds and curtains to give rooms direct sunlight.
- Close the fireplace damper tightly when it is not in use. A good chimney can draw up to 20% of the air out of the house every hour. Heat from the heating system goes up the chimney even when you have a fire burning.
- Have your heating system and ductwork professionally inspected on an annual basis to ensure that your equipment is operating safely and efficiently.
- Ceiling fans are good for more than just summertime use. During the winter, the direction of the blades can be reversed to push warm air around the ceiling down into the living space.
- Unless you have an oil or gas furnace, which needs air for combustion, you should keep crawlspace vents closed in the winter.
- If you plan to be away for several days, turn down the thermostat to its lowest setting, or even better, shut it off completely.
- Using a portable heater for “spot” heating allows you to lower the temperature in the rest of the house, but using it too much can be expensive. Always be sure to keep portable heaters away from unsupervised children and flammable objects.
- Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees, or if your dishwasher is without a booster, 140 degrees. Be sure to turn off the electric breaker before attempting to adjust the thermostat.
- Take showers instead of baths. A shower saves 4-5 gallons of water.
- Wash clothing in cold water with special detergent. The cost of an average load with hot water is about 38 cents, while an average load with cold water is about 1.5 cents.
- Wash dishes in a machine, and only when you have a full load. Dishwashers use approximately 15 gallons of hot water, but washing by hand can use as much as 20 gallons.
- Shut off your electric water heater if you expect to be gone longer than three days. It takes only about an hour to reheat the water when it is turned back on.
- Use low-cost insulation on hot water pipes.
- Insulate your older water heater with R-6 insulation (or better)—but check your manufacturer’s warranty first. In some cases, insulating a water heater will void the manufacturer’s warranty.
What is a solar panel? It is an effective method of catching sunlight and turning it into energy that you can use to keep your home warm or cool during any season without spending as much on your energy costs. Let us determine the right solar panel system for your home and see how affordable using solar heat can be!