There are plenty of things you can do to save energy costs now, including getting an energy audit for your house and using passive solar designs that incorporate south-facing windows. Here are 10 of our favorite energy saving tips:
1. Screw in a new bulb. Replace some inefficient, heat-producing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs use one-fourth the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer.
2. Out with the old. Get rid of that rattling old fridge or other appliance, and replace it with one that has an Energy Star rating. It will save you bucks.
3. Get programmable thermostats. You can set temperatures according to times of the day, so you’re not wasting energy when you’re not home or you’re asleep.
4. Dim those lights. Using an incandescent bulb at 90 percent brightness—or dimmed only 10 percent—will save about 10 percent in electricity and double the life of a bulb. Dimming to 50 percent saves 40 percent in electricity and can extend the bulb life by 20 times. Lighting control systems can do this automatically, allowing you to save more energy.
5. Think scenes. Lighting level presets with a lighting control system bring only certain lights on when you’re cooking, eating or reading. You can also turn off lights in another room, and shut down the whole house at night. No more waking to find that the garage light has been burning all night.
6. Be astronomical. Astronomical timers on outdoor lights can turn your landscaping lighting on at dusk every day. Normal timers may bring the lights on while there’s still daylight.
7. Get your motors runnin’. A motorized window can open to ventilate a room in the warm weather and close when it becomes cold or rains. Motorized window treatments like blinds and shades can also open and close at certain times or when the sun hits them to help warm or cool a room accordingly.
8. That burns us. Still burning oil? One of the best things you can do is use a modulated and sealed combustion boiler. A modulated boiler fires at different settings so it can burn lower on a warm day. Radiant (underfloor) heating systems also heat spaces more efficiently—and feel nice on the feet.
9. Consider alternatives. Solar panels on a south-facing roof can provide enough energy for electricity or hot water. Some solar panels even look like roof shingles. Geothermal heat and cooling from the ground is highly efficient as well.
10. Control it all. A whole-house control system can tie together lighting, heating and ventilation, security, and audio and video systems into one system with preprogrammed scenes and modes that you can activate with the press of a button. You can also power down the house at bedtime or while you’re on vacation.