One way you can start saving money and decreasing your carbon footprint is to have your home professionally weatherized. If your household falls under a certain income level, you may be eligible for a program called the Weatherization Assistance Program. If you are unable to get your home weatherized by a professional, you can do things such as caulking the fixtures in your home to stop air flow, adding weather stripping to doors and windows, and adding shade to your landscape. Besides weatherizing your home, you and your family will need to practice healthy energy usage habits, and to do that, you might need to educate yourself on some of the most common misconceptions when it comes to saving energy in the home.
Myth 1: You save the most by turning off the lights.
Certainly, a house lit by numerous incandescent light bulbs can save money by turning off some of those lights. Switching to Compact Florescent Light bulbs (CFL’s) will save the home money in the long run; however, focusing solely on lights will detract from some of the more powerful energy absorbers. Keeping the lighting low is extremely important, but other factors are more pertinent to the energy consumption of your home.
Myth 2: Using a fan will cool the house.
A fan works by cooling people through a process called evaporative cooling. As air passes your skin, heat on your skin is absorbed in the moisture on your skin, and then removed through the air interacting on your skin. In other words, fans do not cool rooms. You can use fans to decrease your energy consumption by using them when you are in a room. Be sure to adjust your thermostat so that the overall household temperature is higher by up to six degrees, as a good fan can make you feel up to six degrees cooler then without a fan. Using a fan can be problematic in large homes; however, as people in other rooms may not have them, and they may need the thermostat to be at a lower temperature then you do.
If you leave a room, you should turn off the fan. Appliances that use motors, such as fans, can release small amounts of heat into a room, so if you are not in the room, you might be forcing the air conditioner to work even harder then it needs to work.
Myth 3: Turning the television on and off uses more energy then just leaving it on.
The number of times someone will turn a television on then off then on again are often over estimated. Turning the television off is important because not only does it consume as much as 300 watts per hour, but the television releases a small amount of heat simply by running. Your biggest energy consumer, the air conditioner, is working harder every time the television runs constantly. It’s most beneficial to turn the television off when you are not watching it than to assume you’re using more energy by turning off the television.
Myth 4: Space heaters can save on heating costs.
Space heaters are huge energy consumers. If your electric company charges you $.12 per kilowatt hour, you’ll spend an extra $32.40 a month, just to heat your room for six hours a night. If you bump that number up to about ten hours, you can expect an extra $50 on your bill. The best way to save money on heating costs is to lower the thermostat a degree or two. Keep it at around 68 degrees, if possible, and wear warm clothes. If that’s not comfortable enough for you, bump it a degree or so. Also, be sure not to put your heater on full-blast. You should always turn your heater on gradually, so that it doesn’t start the emergency heating mode and use a tremendous amount of energy.
Myth 5: Keeping the air conditioner running all day saves more energy then turning it on.
You should consider your circumstances when deciding whether to turn your AC off or keep in on. In general, the amount of energy required to turn it on at the end of a normal work day is much less then the amount of energy required to keep it on all day; however, you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time, you may want to keep it on a high temperature so that it kicks on just enough to filter the air in your house so that you don’t get mold. In short, turn the AC off during the day, and you’ll save a good deal more energy then keeping it on.
If you don’t like the idea of having to come home to a completely toasty house, increase the temperature on the thermostat to 80 degrees or so during warm days so that it doesn’t take as long to decrease the temperature.