Seasonal Tips For Your Home
Spring is in the Air – Smart Energy Tips to Energize Delaware
Delawareans are welcoming the warmer weather by opening the windows, heading back outside for barbecues and block parties, and undertaking the annual tradition of spring cleaning. This is the perfect opportunity to evaluate how you use energy in and around your home. The SEU’s Energize Delaware offers some simple steps you can take around the house that will save you money, help the environment and even bolster the economy.
How: Most of Delaware saw record-breaking snowfall this winter, and all of that snow can take a toll on your house. Look for anything that may need repair, including siding, windows, doors, gutters, foundation, and locations where wires, pipes, etc., enter the walls. Use binoculars to see the roof, chimneys, vents and flashing. Note anything that is chipped, cracked, broken or separated.
Why: Small cracks or other holes that may have formed over the winter can be costly on many fronts – a one-inch crevice allows up to 30 quarts of water vapor to enter your home over the course of a season. Effectively sealing up and insulating your home will save you upwards of 30 percent on annual utility bills.
How: Turn down the thermostat several degrees from your current setting.
Why: As the temperature outside gets a bit warmer, you can lower your thermostat just a bit and may not even notice the difference in your comfort level. But you will notice the difference in your pocketbook – you can cut up to 10 percent on your utility bill by setting the thermostat to 65 degrees when people are sleeping or out of the house. If radiators heat your home, consider only turning them on in rooms you use most often.
How: You should inspect and, if needed, change the air filter in your air conditioning unit(s) on a monthly basis. The closer summer gets, the busier contractors will be – so spring is the time to get a trained professional to perform some simple maintenance on your air conditioner. They should check your unit’s evaporator and condenser coils, refrigerant levels and blower components. They also can walk you through simple maintenance activities you can do on your own.
Why: Equipment not performing at top-notch will make conditions inside your house uncomfortable as temperatures rise during the spring months, and they’ll send your utility costs through the roof as well. For example, dirty coils make your air conditioner work harder – driving up energy costs and reducing the life of the unit. Likewise, airflow problems can reduce your unit’s efficiency by 15 percent.
How: Wash your clothes using cold-water detergent whenever possible - the warm or cold water settings on your washer are typically just as effective as the hot setting. Paying attention to the water level setting is another important way to save energy – for smaller loads, remember to adjust your washing machine appropriately.
Why: About 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes goes towards heating the water. Switching your washer’s temperature setting from hot to warm or cool will cut your energy usage in half – and, washing clothes in warm water could help you save $50 or more a year.
How: Hang your clothes outside to dry.
Why: Tumble dryers are big energy consumers – often one of the costliest appliances in a household, costing about $1530 to operate over the course of its expected lifetime. Dryers essentially microwave your clothing – often shrinking them and damaging metallic components such as zippers. When you are using your dryer instead of a clothesline, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you’re using the appliance as efficiently as possible – you should check the lint filter regularly, and consider investing in a dryer with a moisture sensor. This will ensure the machine shuts down as soon as your clothes are dry, rather than running for an unnecessarily long period of time.
How: You can purchase a variety of solar lights at your local hardware store, from lanterns to torches to ground lighting.
Why: Lights on a timer, floodlights or other types of common outdoor lighting can consume enormous amounts of energy – particularly if they’re left on unnecessarily. Solar lights require no electricity to operate. Many communities are already making the move toward solar lighting in a variety of unique ways – including tiny black boxes perched on street signs that provide increased illumination at night. Also, as summer approaches, cooking outside will help keep your home cool and cut down on air conditioning bills.
How: Showerheads are measured by the gallons of water per minute (gpm) they disperse. You can measure the flow rate of your showerhead by holding an empty gallon container under the running showerhead. It should take approximately 24 seconds to fill with a low-flow showerhead. If it’s filling more quickly – say in 15 seconds – your showerhead is needlessly wasting water and energy. If you’re buying a new shower head, toilet or other water fixture, look for the EPA WaterSense label to quickly spot water efficient produts.
Why: Many showerheads have a flow of 5-8gpm per square inch (psi). Not only does this waste water, but it needlessly consumes energy – all that water has to be heated. Converting to low-flow will save you about five gallons of water in a typical 10 minute shower – and over $200 a year on your heating bill.