Simple Ways to Save Energy on Heating and Cooling

by Carmen Corbin on November 15, 2011

Opening the mail is generally uneventful, unless it’s the day when the utility bill arrives.  You carefully open the envelope and take a quick peek at the monthly total, hoping by some chance that last month’s cold spell didn’t affect it too much (yeah, right!).  After the shock wears off, you make a vow to yourself to finally take a good look at ways you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.

While there are many things you can do to save energy around the house, we’re going to focus on heating and cooling.  According to Energy Star (www.energystar.com), up to 50% or more of your home’s energy goes toward heating and air conditioning, which is a significant figure.   Here are some simple, inexpensive ways to save energy and reduce your utility bills:

Programmable Thermostats

The concept is so easy – a thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature up or down when you’re not at home.  Imagine all the wasted heat in the winter (or A/C in the summer) while your heating system works hard to keep your house at 73 degrees while you’re at work and the kids are at school.  With a programmable thermostat, it lowers the temperature to the setting of your choice when you’re gone, and then returns it to a pre-set, comfortable temperature before you get home.

There are three main types of programmable thermostats:  7-day models (for daily schedule changes); 5+2-day models (for the same weekday schedule, but different on weekends); and the 5-1-1 model (same weekday schedule; different Saturday and Sunday schedules).  Most have vacation modes as well.  Some models even alert you to possible heating repairs or air conditioning repairs that might be needed.

Seal, Clean and Maintain

Another step you can take is to seal and insulate your air ducts, especially in unheated/uncooled attics and crawl spaces.  You should also change your system’s air filter on a regular basis – at least once per quarter, or more often if the filter is really dirty.  Most of the time it’s easily accessible from the front of the unit – just pull the old one out and put the new one in.  Lastly, getting your HVAC system checked out and maintained once a year by a professional is an important part of keeping it operating efficiently.

For more ideas on energy savings for your home, call or visit your local home improvement contractor.

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