Are your energy bills climbing? It’s a common occurrence for Texas residents as the temperature heats up outside in the summer. Fortunately, you’re not powerless against high utility bills. With some simple tips, you can learn to save on energy costs today and all year long.
- Change the water heater temperature: You may notice that the default setting on your water heater is 140 degrees. Lower this by 20 degrees to not only save on energy costs, but also reduce scalding your hands at the tap. Don’t lower the temperature any further than 120 degrees or you risk allowing microbial growth in the tank.
- Program temperature setbacks: If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, invest in one as soon as possible. Then start using the programming options to save on energy costs. For example, if you program the thermostat to automatically raise the temperature to 85 degrees while you’re at work during the day, you avoid cooling a vacant house. At the same time, you don’t sacrifice comfort – a comfortable temperature will resume before you return home.
- Run ceiling fans: Air circulation is your best friend in the sweltering summer heat. The wind-chill effect created by a fan’s breeze makes you feel four degrees cooler. That way, a 78-degree room actually feels like a comfortable 74 degrees without the need to set the air conditioner to that temperature. Remember, the wind-chill effect cools people, not rooms, so turn off the ceiling fan when you leave to prevent wasting energy.
- Explore your appliances’ energy-saving settings: TVs, computers, dishwashers, washing machines and other appliances often have energy-saving modes. Select the proper setting with the touch of a button and save on energy costs with no extra effort on your part.
- Consider upgrading outdated appliances: The refrigerator and HVAC equipment become energy hogs as they age. Compare the cost to operate newer equipment and decide if it’s wise to upgrade now instead of waiting for a total breakdown.
- Change out the light bulbs: When your current light-bulb supply burns out, replace them with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights. These give off a warm, steady glow to rival their incandescent predecessors, but CFLs consume 75 percent less energy and give off 90 percent less heat. They are a lighting solution that every Texas home should utilize.
- Turn off lights and gadgets that aren’t in use: There is no need to waste energy lighting an empty room or leaving a computer monitor on when no one is looking at it. Get in the habit of shutting off the lights, TV, computer and various other appliances when you’re not using them. To make this easy, plug all the electronics in your entertainment system or computer station into a power strip. Then, when you leave to pursue a different activity, flip the switch and shut everything off at once.
- Replace the HVAC air filter: Forced-air heating and cooling is the most common type of HVAC system. To prevent dust from settling on the equipment, and to help promote cleaner indoor air, HVAC systems are fitted with an air filter. Change this once a month, especially during high-use seasons, to keep airflow moving as it should. This conserves energy by preventing undue strain on the heating and cooling equipment.
- Install new showerheads and faucet aerators: This upgrade is a DIY task that helps conserve water when you shower, wash your hands and brush your teeth. Aeration technology reduces the flow rate without lowering the water pressure, so don’t worry that "low-flow" means a tiny trickle from your showerhead.
- Upgrade your windows: This investment is a no-brainer if your home has single-pane windows. It’s even a worthwhile consideration if you want to enjoy low-E coatings and other efficient features of newer windows.
- Seal leaky windows and doors: Caulk and weatherstripping are the best tools for the job. Caulk is for stationary cracks while weatherstripping creates a tight seal for moveable joints. By reducing air filtration in these areas, you cut down on drafts and save on energy costs.
- Insulate the attic: Take a peek into the attic and assess whether you have enough insulation. There should be several inches of insulation spread evenly across the entire floor. If that’s not what you see, schedule a visit from a professional to add more.
- Schedule an energy audit: This is the best way to learn the specific places your home wastes energy. A blower door test, infrared camera assessment and ductwork inspection are just a few things you can expect from an energy audit.
For more tips to save on energy costs, please contact us at McWilliams & Son Heating and Air Conditioning. We have proudly served residents of the Lufkin and Nacogdoches areas since 1974.
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