Whether you've recently installed a home solar system, or are considering adding one, it's important to give some thought to your energy efficiency. An energy-efficient home will be less demanding in its electricity use, which means you can help offset more of your utility bill with solar. We’ve outlined some tips below to help...
Heat and Cool Efficiently
According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, more than half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So, making smart decisions about your home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills.
Change your air filter
One of the quickest ways to save energy on home heating and cooling is to regularly clean and replace your filters. A clogged air filter full of dirt causes your heating and cooling system to run longer in order to keep the temperature constant. The Department of Energy (DOE) has estimated that changing a clogged or worn out air filter can lower your air conditioning consumption by as much as 15 percent!
Maintain your equipment
Keep your heating and cooling system at peak performance with preventative maintenance. Change your air filter regularly. A clean filter will prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which can lead to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure. Tune-up your HVAC equipment. Proper maintenance by a qualified technician is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent future problems.
Seal your heating and cooling ducts
Ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems are often big energy wasters. In a typical house, however, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is an inefficient HVAC system, high utility bills, and difficulty keeping the house comfortable.
Upgrade your equipment
If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, it’s a good idea to have it evaluated by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with a new unit.
Install a smart thermostat
You can save money on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. And you can do this automatically, without sacrificing comfort! There are several programmable thermostats that make this an easy and automated task. You can save up to 10 percent on your heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back 7-10 degrees from your normal setting for 8 hours a day!
It’s also important to remember to maintain your solar panels so your home solar system is operating to its full potential and you’re getting as much production as possible. For more information on how to care for your panels click here.
Energy Saving Fixes Around the Home
Beyond making your HVAC system more efficient, you can make some quick fixes and small changes to daily habits to conserve lots of energy and potentially save yourself a pretty penny in the process.
Quick fix #1 - Use cold water in laundry and clean the lint filter
Up to 90 percent of the energy used to run a clothes washer is needed simply to heat the water. By running clothes through cold cycles, you can save a ton of energy. Also, cleaning the filter in your dryer after every load will improve air circulation and increase the efficiency of the dryer. It’s also an important safety measure.
Quick fix #2 - Change out your lightbulbs
If you haven’t upgraded your light bulbs to LED, now is the time to replace a few of your most-used light fixtures and/or bulbs. LED lights don’t produce as much heat as incandescent bulbs and use far less energy. In fact, residential LEDs, use at least 25 - 80 percent less energy than incandescent lighting, and last up to 25 times longer. Make a plan to upgrade all the bulbs in your home, even if you just buy a few bulbs per month.
Quick fix #3 - Unplug your appliances
Coffee makers, phone chargers and everyday household items use something that we call vampire power or phantom power. Even if they’re turned off or are not in use, these devices are still using power just by being plugged in to a power outlet.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an appliance constantly taking in 1 watt of electrical current is equivalent to 9kWh per year, adding up to $1 in annual costs (basically $1/watt/annual). Considering how many appliances are used in an average household, costs can quickly add up to $100-200 a year.
Just by walking around your house, spotting “energy suckers” and unplugging them can add up to significant savings. Unplug things you aren’t using, use power strips for devices you know use power while idle, adjust power settings on things like your computer or TV and consider getting timers for outlets to help control usage.
Quick fix #4 - Plug electronics into a smart power strip
Did you know that traditional power strips are meant to protect your devices from electrical surges, but as long as your power strip is on, the devices plugged into it will continue to use energy - even if they are in standby mode.
A smart power strip is designed to protect both your devices and your wallet! Smart power strips can detect when a device is in standby mode so they can cut off power and save energy. Using a smart power strip can help reduce your overall energy usage, which will decrease your energy bills.
Quick fix #5 - Weatherize or update your windows and doors
Have you ever felt a draft when standing in front of your door? Or maybe when you stand near certain windows? About 25-30 percent of a home's heating energy is lost through windows – basically your money is going out the window!
These drafts are air leaks and left unrepaired, can be costly. EnergyStar estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15 percent on their heating and cooling costs simply by air sealing their homes and adding insulation to attics and crawl spaces. A well-insulated and leak-free home helps reduce how hard your HVAC system works to maintain the temperature inside your home. This can potentially help you see big savings on your next energy bill.
Replacing your windows and doors can significantly reduce energy demands and improve the comfort of your home. Installing ENERGY STAR certified windows and doors can shrink energy bills — and carbon footprints — by an average of 12 percent nationwide, compared to non-certified product. With more efficient windows and doors, you also use less energy, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from your homes.
You can also add or update your window coverings to reduce energy loss through the windows to potentially lower heating and cooling bills and improve home comfort. Installing tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing is your best bet!
Quick fix #6 - Lower your water heater temperature
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heaters account for nearly 17 percent of a home’s energy use, consuming more energy than all other household appliances combined. Turning down the temperature on your hot water heater serves as an effective method of reducing monthly energy bills without sacrificing the hot water needed for washing or bathing. The manufacturer setting on most water heaters is 140° F / 60°C. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning the temperature down to 120°F / 49°C can help you save up to $60 a year.
Quick Fix #7 - Use energy efficient appliances
When you shop for a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR appliances, which are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy, will use less energy each year than non-energy efficient equivalents. For example, A new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR label uses at least 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models. That means when you replace the appliances in your home with energy-efficient upgrades, you can save hundreds of dollars a year on your energy bill.
Some manufacturers are now offering “smart” appliances - appliances that can be connected to smart electric meters or home energy management systems to help you shift your electricity use to off-peak hours. Smart appliances don’t just turn off during times of peak electricity demand, instead they use subtle ways to shift energy use that you probably won’t even notice. So, if your utility charges lower rates for electricity at night, also called time-based or time-of-use rates, you could save on your utility bill with smart appliances.
Did you know that if your utility has time-of-use rates, a battery storage system can also help you optimize your energy savings? With Sunnova SunSafe® solar plus battery storage, you can better control when and how much electricity you need from the grid and reduce or avoid paying these peak time of use rates.
Energy conservation and solar power are a perfect pair
Making the switch to an energy-conscious lifestyle is simple, and there is no better time to start than today. And if your intention is to conserve as much energy as possible, solar panels can help you reach this goal more quickly, effectively saving you more money and contributing to a cleaner environment! Some of the top benefits of going solar include saving money, increasing your property value, and protecting the environment. For more information on going solar, request a no-obligation quote today.