With global warming sending world temperatures to all-time highs (and lows), keeping an energy-efficient home is not simply a matter of choice. It is a must for everybody to cut down their carbon footprint. But amid the sweltering summer heat, how exactly can we make our homes cooler and greener? Here are five smart tips from Tree Classics:
Tip#1: Get Rid of Phantom Loads
A phantom load is an electronic device on standby mode. It remains plugged even while it is turned off. Environmental agencies estimate phantom loads make up six to 10% of people’s monthly energy bills. These “energy vampires” include the TV, stereo, microwave oven, clock radio, and even chargers for cellular phones and iPods. Unplug appliances when not in use. To make the task easier, you may want to use a power strip, which allows you to turn off all appliances with a single switch.
Tip#2: Choose Energy-efficient Devices
Energy Star devices may cost more than their conventional counterparts, but in most cases they will more than make up for that additional cost through substantial energy savings over time. For instance, a qualified Energy Star light bulb consumes about 75% less electricity than a traditional incandescent bulb and lasts at least six times longer. When it comes to home computing, laptops can save up to 80% energy, with powerful notebooks only at 30W compared to a 120W desktop PC plus 80W CRT screen.
Tip#3: Use a Programmable Thermostat
Heating and cooling make up the largest energy expense, accounting for 56% of the energy use in the typical American household, says the US Department of Energy (DOE). Cut unnecessary energy consumption by automatically adjusting the temperature in your home to your schedule. The DOE advises to “save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.” A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically set the times you turn on the heating or air conditioning. By encoding a schedule, the equipment does not operate as much when you are asleep or out of the house.
Tip#4: Improve Insulation
Half of the energy used to heat or cool homes is wasted without proper insulation. Un-insulated roofs or ceilings, for instance, can let out up to 45% of the heating and cooling energy we use. Walls and certain types of floors without such feature can lose up to 15% heat in the winter. Make it easier to control the temperature and save energy in the process by improving the insulation in your house. Upgrading insulation is a sound investment, but you can also start simply by sealing off leaks in windows and doors or by having a carpet.
Tip#5: Switch to Fans
Ceiling fans are one of the most energy-efficient devices you can have at home. A 2.5 ton central system consumes about 3,500W while a window A/C unit uses between 500 to 1,500W. But a floor fan needs only 100W as it runs on its highest speed, and a ceiling fan requires only 15 to 95W. Studies also show combining ceiling fans with A/C units and heaters boosts their efficiency, reducing summer cooling bills by up to 46% and winter heating bills by up to 15%.
There are many ways to save energy without having to give up the modern conveniences of using electricity. With these five simple tips, you’re on your way to saving an even bigger home: the entire planet.