Energy Reduction

Do You Need a Cold Air Return Vent In Each Room

Do You Need a Cold Air Return Vent In Each RoomThe answer to the question, do you need a cold air return vent in each room, is no. However, it is important that the flow of air in your home is efficient. Hot air comes into each room through the hot air registers, usually located under a window. The hot air heats the room and rises to the ceiling, pushing cold air towards the floor. This is where your cold air return vents should be located. Cold air is drawn into the duct. Rooms with no cold air return vent and closed doors will have less air circulation.

Hot air coming into the room has nowhere to go. It creates positive pressure. Hot air is forced into other rooms with lower pressure. If you do not have a cold air return vent in each room, keep doors open to circulate air.

Do You Need a Cold Air Return Vent In Each Room

Our master bedroom does not have a cold air return vent. The room is cold in winter and hot in summer. If we keep our bedroom door closed the variance in temperatures is even greater. We keep the door open all of the time. We looked into installing a cold air return vent in the room which turned out to be impractical.

There was another solution which turned out to be one of the best decisions we could have made. A ceiling fan was the answer. We installed the fan and keep it on a low speed all of the time. The air circulates in the room. The fan pushes hot air from the ceiling towards the floor. Even with the door closed the temperatures are more consistent throughout the room.

The cold air return vent is located just outside the door in the hallway. With the door open and the fan running, the air is pushed out of the room towards the door. We have found that it is not perfect. However, the temperatures in our bedroom are more consistent and warmer in the winter.

Summer Time Solution

During the summer we have also found significant improvement. Circulate hot air with the fan. This leads to a much more comfortable overall air temperature in our bedroom.

UN Report – Cut Emissions to Zero!

Cut Emissions to ZeroThe UN Report – Cut Emissions to Zero was just issued. It suggests that we must reduce our emission of pollutants to zero within a few years. If we do not, we will have lost the opportunity to deal with climate change. It will be here to stay. What does this mean for the average person? Right now nothing really since few politicians will change or take on this issue. The average person will probably not even be aware of the impact until it is too late.

Companies on the other hand will discourage any immediate action since this will immediately impact the bottom line i.e. profits. Share holders will be impacted. Can we eliminate pollution like the one in this picture quickly? This one and a thousand other locations around the planet must be reduced if we are going to make a difference. We need to reduce our use of vehicles to make these companies change.

What Does the UN Report – Cut Emissions to Zero Mean

Well what this writer got out of it was that the average temperature is going to up by two degrees around the earth. This means that some areas will experience much wider swings. Probably this means more violent storms, more desert areas, more flooding and hotter summers. Ice caps will melt and the seas will rise. Tropical diseases will head north and south. Life as we currently know it will be much different, especially for those people living in low lying areas. Flooding from the sea and high tides will do a lot of damage.

Can We do Our Part?

The answer is yes but it is going to cost you some money. Reducing the energy that is being used by every family is the first step which is really what this web site is all about. Turning down the temperature for heating in the winter, turning up the temperature for air conditioning in the summer, using CFL lights or LED lights and driving more efficient vehicles are among the major things that we as consumers can consider. Can we go further than this, well of course we can, but this is where it really takes some time and some money to reduce your overall energy footprint.

Considering solar power for your home, wind power for your home are two options. Better insulation for your home, reducing the packing of products that you purchase, recycle everything, walk to work or use public transit or bike to work would be better. Think about everything you do in your life and consider how you can reduce the energy foot print to make your own contribution. Let’s hope that the politicians get it right and initiate the steps to take us towards zero emissions!

For more topics and ideas about energy reduction, click here.

Outdoor LED Light Bulbs

A few years ago, LED bulbs of any kind were very expensive and most people ignored them because of that. Even with rebates as incentives, the payback was just too long. However like all new technologies, mass production of outdoor LED light bulbs has enabled the price to come down substantially. Now it makes sense to buy these bulbs just to reduce the amount of electricity that we use and save money on our electrical bills. In addition there are still discounts from manufacturers and also from government agencies that consumers can use to decrease the cost of updating to the new cost saving LED’s. Before you buy, look for coupons in your newspaper, in flyers and also online.

Outdoor LED light bulbs will last many years and use about one tenth of the electricity at the same time. In some cases there is still a rebate available from your local electrical company for any kind of LED bulb which makes them even more attractive.

Outdoor LED Light Bulbs for Christmas Decoration

The biggest difference recently has been for Christmas lights for both indoor and outdoor LED bulbs. Now you can purchase strings of lights for the same price as the original Christmas tree lights, they operate at one tenth the cost, there is no heat so no worry about fire and you can attach many strings together and not be concerned about overloading the electrical circuit. The bulbs last forever virtually and you save electrical costs at the same time. What a great innovation!

Of course outdoor LED light bulbs are not limited to just Christmas tree lights. They are now appearing in house lights, emergency lights and so on. Manufacturers have developed the appropriate protective housing for the light bulbs so that they can be used just about anywhere. Many car manufacturers are using them in newer cars as well, reducing the weight as well as the power needed to generate sufficient electricity to power the lights.

The writers family has switched over to all fluorescent lights, which also last a long time, however not as long as the outdoor LED light bulbs. As the florescent lights stop working we will upgrade to the new outdoor LED light bulbs and the indoor LED light bulbs. It just makes so much sense.

Reduce Energy Consumption

It is so simple really, just turn the switch off! Run appliances such as washing machines and dryers at low peak times when energy is charged at it’s lowest levels. Turn down your thermostat to conserve energy in the winter time, Turn it up in the summer to reduce your overall energy consumption. There are probably a 100 little things that can be done if you make them into a habit. They will save you money and reduce energy consumption. Just take a look around your home. Anything that uses energy in any form is a candidate to be turned off. It will help reduce energy consumption and put money in your pocket.

When we started thinking about this around our own home we went for the obvious. Also the biggest contributors first. These were the lights of course. We turned them off if not in the room and we also converted from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs which made a huge savings. Now you can convert to LED’s which save even more money. We are just waiting for the fluorescent we have to burn out. They have such a long life span, this might take a while and the LED’s last even longer.

Reduce Energy Consumption by Time of Day

We are on time of day billing for our energy consumption.  Basically the electrical energy rates cost much less in the evenings and are much higher in the daytime. We run dishwashers, washing machines and dryers after 7pm at night to take advantage of the lower energy rates in the evenings. We also have a pool so I installed a timer on the pool pump so that it runs only in the evenings. There has been no problem with algae or anything like that and the energy savings paid for the timer in the first year of operation.

Turning off other appliances when not in use such as TV’s and radios save small amounts. It is more a mindset than anything else once you have the big users of energy under control. Don’t forget that when you go away for the holidays to unplug everything before you leave to reduce your energy foot print to as small as possible.

Manage Energy Use at Home

Cooling Your RoofWhen you try to manage energy use at home it must become a way of life. In other words the entire family must support your attempt at reducing the cost of electricity, heating fuel and so on if you really want to make a substantial change. But it is a struggle to get the family on board. They are either not interested or they just do not care because they are not paying the bills!  If they have no idea of what the cost of electricity and heating fuel actually is, then they may not care that much that the cost of this energy  can be reduced putting more money in your pocket. Thus is typical in families and yet you can make it happen over time.

Creating Habits – Manage Energy Use

Even my spouse is hard to convince. We now do the laundry after seven at night because the cost if electricity is cheaper. My spouse does the laundry at that time because she knows that it would be upsetting to me if she did the laundry at some other time. I have this feeling that if I was not there she would do the laundry whenever she felt like it. When the cat is away, the mice will play is the expression that comes to mind. But we are making progress, we now use timers for some lights and we do the laundry after seven!

Set an Example – Manage Energy Use

There are two ways to manage energy use and the associated cost. First shift your use from peak rate times to low rate times e.g. Do the laundry in off peak time frames. Run your pool pump, your air conditioner, cook meals etc in off peak times to reduce your overall cost.

Secondly you can reduce your energy costs by using less energy. Energy efficient appliances, converting to LED lights, turning lights off when not in use etc. are all ways of reducing energy use. Managing your heating and cooling cost is another way to reduce your overall energy cost. Simply adjust the temperature so that your heating system and your cooling system does not run as often. You will save energy for sure. LED’S are by far the most efficient light that can be used and will save you a great deal of money. Most people just have to get over the initial sticker shock, but they are definitely worth it.

How can we reduce energy consumption

reduce energy consumptionThere are many ways to reduce energy consumption which in turn reduces our overall cost and decreases the impact on our wallets. Some are very easy to implement. While others will take a bit of work. Some will mean changes in life styles. We will list a number of these in this post. Many people will be able to add others based on their lifestyle and their particular situation.

The real focus is to think of steps that consumers can take that reduces energy consumption without costing a great deal of money to make it happen. For example you may not want to spend a lot of money insulation your home when it will make little difference on the amount of energy you are using to heat your home. If you home is already well insulated then you may not save much by adding more insulation. On the other hand you may save a great deal if your home is not well insulated and a lot of heat is escaping through the walls and ceiling. Take these practical considerations into account before spending money to save money.

How can we reduce energy consumption

Reducing Energy Usage

  • Turn off the lights
  • Convert to fluorescent or LED lights
  • Turn down your thermostat in the winter
  • Turn up your thermostat in the summer
  • Add insulation to walls and attic
  • Increase your window insulation
  • Avoid peak time power usage when rates are charged at the highest levels
  • Shut off TV’s and other electronics when not in use
  • Unplug devices when not in use
  • Drive vehicles that use less gas and cost less to drive
  • Plan trips to combine errands
  • Use the microwave instead of the oven

These are just a sample of the types of things that consumers can do to conserve energy and reduce their overall cost to their wallets. Any money you can save this way will lead to other things that you can purchase or pay for including reducing loans and interest payments. As you reduce your costs and apply the savings to other areas such as loans and interest bearing debt, you will save even more money!

Automatic off switch for your lights

Always Ask for DiscountsWe recently stayed in a Hampton Inn in Cookeville Tennessee. This particular Hampton Inn has installed an Evolve system which controls all the lights in the room. All you have to do is place your key card in a switch. It is just inside the entrance to the room to turn on the lights, the TV and air conditioning.

When you leave , You take your key card with you and when you remove it from the light switch it automatically turns off all the lights, the TV and the air condition system. This is an excellent energy-saving maneuver by the Hampton Inn to reduce the cost of electricity and other charges. They are able to immediately reduce their electricity charges and reduce their cost. Customers of the hotel can of course circumvent the system by asking for an extra key and leave it in this switch, while they are out for dinner etc. However overall this approach will save money for the hotel chain and keep hotel rates as well lower for customers. The money they save on energy use should more than pay for installing this system.

Automatic Off Switch – Home Application

This might be something interesting for homes to also use however it may require rewiring your house or installing special switches that connect to all of your lights and other devices in your home. There is a cost to all of these things and although you are saving energy, the question is whether you will save enough to cover the cost of the equipment. Many consumers will be able to save sufficient money simply by converting to LED bulbs vs using the older traditional incandescent lights.

LED bulbs, although they cost much more, will last for many years and use much less electricity at the same time. As a home owner I would invest in LED lights first to gain the maximum savings from reduced energy immediately and then think about automatic off switch for our lights. These automatic switches would be more for convenience than anything else since I have already gained most of the savings from converting to LED lights. In fact the difference in energy use for LED’s may in fact preclude spending money on these sophisticated auto switches. You really have to do a small business case to assess the cost vs. savings before you spend any money on automation.

Reduce Energy Usage

Reduce Energy UsageWe just wrote a post about reducing electrical consumption at home which may be interesting to many people, but there is a lot more that consumers can do to reduce their overall energy usage. For example expanding from electrical usage to include heating systems, our cars and even our offices. There is a lot more that we can do to reduce energy usage. we can put a lot more money back in our pocket. The picture on the left should also persuade you to reduce energy. There is a lot of pollution being produced at this plant. Check out our previous post about reducing electrical consumption. Or read on to learn more about some of the other things we can.

Reduce Energy Usage – Driving Cars

For example our cars use a great deal of gas and cost a great deal to manufacture. Every time you can decrease the use of your car, you can save some money. You can also contribute to the greening of the planet. Walking to work, taking the bus or riding a bike to get to work makes such a difference. Especially when it comes to saving money instead of buying more gasoline.

But if you must use your car, make sure that it is always properly tuned up and the tires are fully pressurized to ensure that you obtain the best mileage per gallon that you can. You can reduce your gasoline usage by as much as 10% by keeping your car in top shape. In addition, avoiding jack rabbit starts and stops will save gasoline and allow your brakes to last longer. Even keeping your tires properly balanced will make a difference.

We all love to drive fast and beat the guy beside us. We routinely drive 10 or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. You can save a lot of money and get better gas mileage by driving at the speed limit. Do your own test to see what a difference 10 or 20 miles / hour makes on your gas mileage.

Heating Our Homes to Reduce Energy

Just by setting the temperature a few degrees lower in the winter time and a few degrees higher in the summer time will reduce your overall energy foot print. Many people heat their homes with gas, oil or even propane. You can reduce your usage a great deal by simply setting the thermostat a bit lower and even shutting off rooms that do not need to be heated. Just make sure that there are no water pipes in these rooms that could freeze during a cold snap. You will save both electricity usage by not running your fan as often as well as the fuel used to heat your home.

The same applies to air conditioning in the summer. Although you will not reduce fuel, you will reduce your electrical energy usage by a significant amount if you set the temperature higher and close rooms that do not need to be cooled.

Reducing energy at Work

While you may not put money in your own pocket by reducing energy usage at work, you can certainly help to reduce the company’s energy usage and make them more profitable. In our books this is a good thing in most cases since it helps to protect our jobs.

Cooling Your Roof

Cooling Your RoofWe saw a question posed by a reader about spraying water on the roof in the summer time when it is really hot. The idea was to spray water on the roof to cool  your roof down. This in turn may decrease the cost of cooling the house with AC. She did this at dusk when the sun was going down and it did cool her roof down significantly. The house was actually cooler as well. She succeeded in cooling her house . She also mentioned that the neighbors thought she was nuts. They wanted to know if this was a smart thing to do and if it would save energy.

Cooling Your Roof

The writer or the blog owner of the site that this idea was written on thought this was a really great idea. He had wanted to do this himself but did not have a hose with a sprayer that was strong enough. There is no doubt that spraying water on the roof will cool the roof. But is this really a smart thing to do?

The reason this has such a cooling effect is that the heat from your roof (and inside your attic) is being used to warm the water and then evaporate it. Evaporation is a cooling process (which is why sweating makes us feel cooler). So you wind up lowering the temperature of the roof itself substantially. This reduces the heat gain from the roof to the attic and from the attic to inside your house.

Concern About Spraying Water on the Roof

We are very concerned about this answer and also that many people might actually even try this. Not only is it a waste of water. But anyone who pays for their water by the gallon is going to get a huge surprise at the end of the  month if they do this very often. The money they save on cooling the house if any will be quickly used up by a higher water bill. Water is expensive in some areas and this action of spraying your roof can end up costing quite a bit.

Another concern is the impact on the shingles. When water is sprayed on the roof it will cool the shingles. There is no doubt of this. But now you have one side very cool and the other is still very hot. Over time this will cause the shingles to twist and crack. This process could prematurely age the roof. Which could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Any savings you received from cooling the roof in this manner, will quickly be lost with the cost of a replacement roof. A replacement roof will cost several thousand dollars  depending on the size of your roof.

What Should the Home Owner Do

The writer would be better off to make sure that the roof is well vented. Hot air which rises can vent out the roof vents at the top of the roof. Cooler air would be drawn in at the bottom of the roof. Placing trees around your house to provide shade. Also lowering blinds inside your home to block the sun coming in would be far more efficient. Not only is the air flow automatic when the vents are properly sized, you do not have to remember to spray the roof every day to cool it off.

Depending on the size of your roof and the construction of your home you may need to have more than one roof vent. Each gable and each roof area should have vents that allow the hot air to escape from your attic and dissipate the heat. There should also be sufficient openings that allow cooler air to enter the roof as well at the eaves. Hot air rises and this is what you are trying to take advantage of. Air will flow in at the eaves and out through the roof vents which will have the effect of cooling the roof with no damage to the shingles.

On a large roof you may need to have as many as three or four vents to ensure that you have sufficient air flow to properly cool the air in your attic which in turn will keep the rest of the home cool.

We do not think that spraying water on a roof is a very good idea and would really recommend that home owners not take this approach at all. for more energy reduction ideas, click here.

LED Lights Return on Your Investment

LED LightLED Light bulbs are very expensive and we were wondering how can a consumer possible justify spending $35 per bulb when an incandescent bulb costs less than a dollar and fluorescent bulbs cost around $4? With such a difference in price we did not think that the ROI would be very good and if these bulbs did save you money, it would take a long time for the payback to work. In fact, I might not even own the house by the time they pay for themselves!

I discussed this with a friend of ours and he had the same concern. In fact he said that the LED bulbs will last many years before they stop working and he would be long dead, so why would you invest in these kinds of bulbs. A bit of stark reality, but this is another perspective to take into account.

How Long Do LED Light Bulbs Last

Regular incandescent bulbs will last about 1200 hours on average, while a fluorescent bulb will last 10,000 hours and a LED Light is supposed to last 50,000 hours. We have 3 lights at the front of our house which are on all night long. On average they may be on for 10 hours a night which means the incandescent bulbs will only last 120 days, the fluorescent will last a long longer up to 1000 day or 2.7 years, while the LED’s will last 14 years.

What is My ROI

We plugged these numbers into a ROI calculator which assumed the cost of electricity was $.09 / Kwh, the lights were on for 10 hours per day, there were 3 lights, and the cost of the LED Lights were $35 a piece.  The results were quite interesting over a period of 1 year.

Incandescent bulbs are going to cost $121 to operate the bulbs while the LED Light would cost $7.72 which is a huge savings. Over a 10 year period this amounts to $1113 in cost savings taking into account the cost to operate and to purchase replacement bulbs.

florescent bulbs cost a little more to operate on an annual basis at $14.58, while the savings over 10 years is lower around $900. LED’s are shatter proof and do not contain mercury which is a huge concern for pollution issues and safety.

Switching To LED Lights

Most stores still sell incandescent bulbs, however they are reducing stock significantly as time moves on. There is a gradual shift from fluorescent bulbs as well to LED’s. Fluorescent have come down in price a great deal over the last few years. We expect that LED’s will  also come down in price as they are mass produced.

I would consider switching to LED’s even with the high cost, for my outdoor lights since we keep them on all night long. They will cost more initially. However they will last much longer as well. No maintenance is needed and they do not generate heat.

For rooms inside our home, I would only switch from fluorescent lights for lights that we use a lot in rooms were the lights may be on for more than 5 hours a day. This eliminates most rooms except for the family room and kitchen. Next time I need to replace some lights, which are all fluorescent lights now, I will strongly consider the LED lights. As they come down in cost, I will reconsider this approach. Right now it would cost far too much to replace the bulbs I already have.

LED Light Calculators

Another calculator looked at the cost to light a room for 50,000 hours. Which is the length of time a LED is supposed to last. They compared the operating cost, plus the cost of the bulb with the same operating costs for the fluorescent and incandescent bulbs for 50,000 hours. The cost of replacement bulbs were factored in since they only last 10,000 and 1,200 hours respectively.

The cost to operate these bulbs over 50,000 hours including the cost of the bulbs was:

  • Incandescent : $352.50
  • fluorescent : $89.75
  • LED : $85.75

These are significant savings and one that consumers should look at if you still have regular incandescent bulbs. It just makes so much sense to switch now to the more energy efficient bulbs.

Comments and thoughts are welcome. Spam comments are auto deleted. For more information about LED lights, click here.

Reduction of Energy Consumption

Reduction of energy consumption! Where do I begin? How much will it really cost? Will it take a lot of work? How much will I really save? Will it matter?

We are not picking on the nuclear industry by using this picture on the left. We just happened to like the questions that are listed on the picture when we repeated in the above paragraph to make sure that everyone could read the words. These questions are the central questions that many if not all people have who are the least bit concerned about our use of energy. These are also reasons that a lot of people use to persuade themselves not to even get started and try to save energy. This is really unfortunate since if we all banded together and saved even 10% of our energy consumption, we would make a huge impact on our energy use, our cost to use that energy and we would delay construction of many energy projects. The world would be a better place.

In this article we are going to focus on the individual. We are the only ones who have influence over what we do in terms of how we use energy. We cannot impact the large companies very much unless we all band together and make a difference. Instead let’s focus on our own wallet and discuss things we can do to save energy and reduce our overall cost. On the way we might persuade other people to do the same thing and we might have a small impact on corporations. Every dollar you save in terms of energy consumption is a dollar in your pocket and can be used for other purposes including going on a vacation.

Where do I begin? – Energy Consumption

This is the question a lot of people ask themselves. On this blog we have listed several posts about energy reduction and the steps that consumers can take to reduce their energy bills. Pick one and get started. It does not matter if it is reducing water use, turning down the thermostat in the winter, or turning up the thermostat in the summer, walking to work, etc. As long as you pick one and get started, have some success you will be encouraged to try more ideas.

Will it really cost a lot?

Sometimes there is a cost to reducing energy. Water reduction will not cost a lot and you will save money. Replacing incandescent lights with fluorescent lights will cost more than the same incandescent light, however you will reduce your electrical bill in the long run and repay for the light several times over. Evaluate every energy saving idea and make sure you can get a payback in a shorter time than the life span of the item you are buying.

Will it Take a lot of Work?

Replacing a light is not much work. Reducing water consumption is not much work, nor is adjusting the thermostat. Walking to work takes more time and you get exercise which is good for us, so there is some work. Most things do not take a lot of effort and you save money at the same time. Go for it, there may be other benefits as well.

Will I really save a lot?

We have eliminated almost $500 a year in electrical usage by turning out lights, replacing incandescent lights, running the pool motor 4 or 5 hours a day instead of continuously and adjusting the thermostat especially for the air conditioning. Depending on your life style you may save a lot more energy costs as well. Start now. Wouldn’t you rather have $500 in your pocket than pay it to someone else?

Will it matter?

Most people just give up because they think it will not matter in the big scheme of things and they want to be comfortable. Setting the thermostat at a level that is comfortable for them is important and they feel that it will not matter. Well it will matter to you and your cash flow. Any time you can save money, it matters. If enough people follow this approach, it will make a difference and decrease our overall dependence on oil and other forms of polluting energy. If we purchase energy saving devices and energy generating devices, we will make even more of a difference. Every bit counts so let’s get started.

For more topics and ideas about energy reduction solutions, click here.

Reducing Energy Usage

Reducing Energy UsageOur last post discussed the appliances that consume the most electricity. From this post we can see which appliances use the most electricity and where we can plan on reducing our energy usage by focusing on the larger highest consuming appliances.

Turning the lights off and converting to fluorescent lights is an excellent way of reducing our energy usage. So running any appliance that has a motor, such as the air conditioner, the dryer and water pump less are also great ways of reducing energy usage.

We use energy in other ways as well that may not involve electricity. If you have a water heater that runs on natural gas, you are using energy. Heating your home with natural gas as well consumes a lot of energy as do pool heaters that are gas consumers.

Our cars and transportation are another area that most consumers use a lot of energy and the higher the price goes for gasoline, the more motivation there is to control how much energy we use.

Here are a few ways of reducing energy usage:

  • Unplug devices if they are not in use. All electronics consume energy even if they are turned off.
  • Set computers to sleep so they are not running and put lap tops on hibernation mode, however it is even better to unplug them
  • Turn down your temperature in the winter and up in the summer to reduce heating and air conditioning costs.
  • Use your appliances in off peak hours such as cooking, drying your clothes, setting your fridge temperature a little higher, wash full loads in the washing machine and the dishwasher, and keep them all in optimal operating condition.
  • Turn out the lights if no  one is in the room
  • Convert all lights to fluorescent or LED lights
  • Walk to work or take mass transit
  • Plan your trips in the car and avoid many short trips for single errands
  • Keep your vehicle well tuned and tires at the proper pressure
  • Turn down the thermostat when you go away on vacation in the winter
  • Turn up the thermostat in the summer when you are away
  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Use flashlights that do not need batteries and avoid having to throw out used batteries
  • Winterize your home by sealing windows

While this may not be a complete list of reducing energy usage, these will cover the majority for many consumers. Depending on your lifestyle, there may be additional methods and approaches to reducing energy usage. Let us know by leaving comments and we will add them to our list. Our readers will appreciate it.

Additional Energy Usage Reduction Techniques

There are additional steps that can be considered to reduce energy usage which may require additional investment with various pay time frames. These approaches include:

  • Upgrade your furnace to a maximum efficiency furnace.
  • Upgrade your water heater to maximum efficiency
  • Ensure your windows are well sealed or replace them with better insulated windows
  • Upgrade your insulation in your attic
  • Arrange for a pressure test to identify all potential air leaks in your home
  • Install ceiling fans to move the air inside your home
  • Consider gas fireplace inserts to heat the most used room in your home

There are many more things that will cost increasing amounts of money to put into place. If you are building a new home there are an entire series of things to consider in terms of upgrades that can improve the efficiency of the home in terms if energy use.

There is a law of diminishing returns. The point at which the investment in energy reducing activity is going to cost more than the potential savings over some number of years. The number of years will be different for every home owner and the amount they are willing to spend. For the writer this number is around seven or eight years. In other words if I cannot recover my investment in that time, then I am not prepared to spend the money to upgrade.

This should be constantly reassessed since prices are constantly changing including the cost of energy as well as the cost of the solutions you may be considering. Reducing energy usage is an ongoing activity and should be constantly monitored.

Energy Consumption Reduction

Energy Consumption ReductionThere are lots of companies that have a variety of products that are aimed at assisting consumers to achieve energy consumption reduction objectives. This particular one allows you to monitor the electricity used by a particular device that is plugged into it. You can observe how much energy is being used while the device that is plugged into is on. As well you can monitor how much energy is being used while that same device is turned off.

This may be a revelation to many people, but our appliances increasingly are using energy while they are turned off, so they can instantly turn on when we need them. In our society, at the present time, no one is willing to wait while a device warms up and begins to work as designed. Instant on is everywhere and unknowingly to many people continue to use a small amount of electricity. You can purchase one of these meters to monitor just how much is being used if you are really serious about energy consumption reduction.

Practical Guide to Energy Consumption Reduction for Consumers

The golden rule for reducing your energy consumption and reducing your energy cost is:

“if you are not using something, turn it off;  if you do not plan to use something for more than a day or two, unplug it; Take advantage to time of day energy rates; and be as frugal as possible about heating and cooling your home”

Following this basic set of principles will ensure that your energy use is kept to a minimum with our without one of these expensive energy monitors. Franky, although they are kind of neat to have and you can have specific information about your appliances, these devices are just not needed for the average consumer. Save your money and just turn off appliances and / or unplug them when they are not being used.

So many people get caught up on the complexities of dealing with controlling their energy use, rates, monitors, complicated thermostats etc etc. The simple rule we outlined above is all you really need to do to reduce your energy consumption and save money. It is really that simple. Once you develop the habit of turning things off, it will come as second nature.

Monitor Your Energy Bills

Always monitor your energy bills for heating and electricity. If you notice something changing, you may want to take some action to figure out why there is a change in energy use. In most cases a decrease is a great thing and very acceptable, however increases could be because of something abnormal that happened in your life or some one in your family forgot to unplug a heavy energy using device. But most things are small users, however when you apply a general rule of unplugging devices and appliances you will notice a difference in your energy consumption.

Check also against seasonal changes. For example if the winter was unusually cold you may notice that your electricity use is up. So is your heating fuel consumption. This is to be expected. You may want to consider what you can do to control your energy use in this case.  Same thing in the summer time when air conditioning is typically in use. Take advantage of varying energy rates by time of day if they are offered in your area.

Energy Use Not Just Linked to Our Homes

Another big consumer of energy are our cars of course. Taking the bus, doubling up from a passenger perspective can reduce the amount of gasoline that we use. As gas prices increase, this is becoming more important all of the time. recently gas has increased by over 25%, which is significant if you drive to work every day. There are many ways to reduce gasoline consumption.  We included a short list as follows:

  • Tune up your car
  • Take the bus
  • Share commuting
  • Proper inflation in your tires
  • Drive at the speed limit
  • Walk if you can
  • Plan your trips for errands

These are just a few things you can do to reduce the energy consumption when using your car. There are many more which you can apply to your personal life.


Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes

Improving Energy Efficiency in HomesImproving energy efficiency in homes is becoming more and more important as oil prices and gas prices continue to rise. We all are becoming more concerned about  energy these days. How much it costs us? Were it is coming from? What it is doing to the environment? How can we control our cost of using energy? Ultimately the only things within our control is how much we use and what steps can we take to improving energy efficiency in our homes leading to a decrease in the overall cost of the energy we use.

If we can purchase our energy at the cheapest price we can find and then minimize the amount of energy that we use, then we are saving as much as humanly possible. The trade off of course is what does it cost us to save a dollar of energy. If we have an old fridge and have to spend a $1000 to get an energy efficient fridge, is it worth the investment? We do not think so unless you plan to replace the fridge for other reasons. then you should buy the most energy efficient fridge you can find.

So what are the steps we can take towards improving energy efficiency in homes. We have compiled a general list that many consumers can consider and use depending on their personal situation and their current energy foot print as it relates to our homes.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes

Check for Leaks

There are many locations around your home were cold air can leak into your home in the winter time and hot air in the summer. Check for leaks around your windows and doors were there is a bad seal, a bad fit or missing weather stripping. Seal up all of these locations so that air cannot escape. You can even arrange to do a compression test to determine how much air you are losing and were the leaks are.

Fill all holes around Water Lines, Cable, etc

Whenever utilities must enter your home, they always drill holes through the foundation or the upper walls. These holes are sources for insects to come through along with air that can leak in either direction. In most cases they are already plugged, however it is a good idea to check all of them to make sure that no air can escape in either direction. Check water lines, electrical lines, cable TV lines, Telephone lines, gas lines, central vac systems that exhaust to the outside, air conditioning systems and any others that may exit or enter your home.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes – Caulk the Exterior

Check around your homes exterior and caulk any locations that you feel might be a source for air to penetrate. Check around windows, doors, exhaust vents and any utilities as previously discussed. Seal all of them to ensure your home is air tight.

Manage the Thermostat

This is a big one and can save you a lot of money by reducing your homes energy consumption. You can save 20 or 30% by setting your thermostat cooler in the winter at night and when you are not home. No need to heat your home at normal temperatures when you are not in the home. Same things goes for the summer time, when you can turn up the thermostat to reduce cooling costs when you are not there.

Close The Blinds in Summer

The sun can add a lot of heat to your home in the summer simply by shining in through your windows. Close the blinds on windows facing the sun to reduce the cost of cooling in the summer time. Keep them open during the winter to take advantage of the suns heat in the winter time.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes – Turn off Lights and Appliances

It is surprising how many people do not turn off lights in rooms they are not in. Same thing with appliances. By turning them off you can contributed to improving the energy efficiency of your home. Not only do you save the energy the appliance uses when not turned on, you reduce the cooling cost as well. All devices generate some level of heat when they are on and you have to add this to your cooling load in the summer time.

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Devices

Everything from removing incandescent lights, to using low flow faucets, to dual flush toilets can be implemented in your home to improve the overall energy efficiency of you home. All of these devices will cost some money, however the payback is getting more reasonable all of the time as the cost of energy increases. Although you are probably not going to shell out a thousand dollars to upgrade a major appliance  just because it is energy efficient, there comes a time when it is necessary so you may as well get the most efficient one you can when it is time.

Look at Everything with Energy Efficiency in Mind

While we cannot cover everything in one post, we encourage everyone to look at everything they do with energy efficiency in mind. Take every opportunity you can to reduce your energy footprint. Ultimately it will save you money in the long run as prices go up and up. Furnaces,  water heaters, air conditioners, and major appliances fall into the category of major energy users with a long payback if you are only looking at energy savings. Many of these items need to be replaced simply because they get old and cannot be repaired. Always go for the energy efficient appliances when it comes time and look for discounts and coupons offered by  companies and governments for energy efficient devices.

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