Top 9 Things you can do to reduce your Energy Consumption

Top Nine Energy Solutions

1 Can roof color affect energy efficiency?
2 Does changing the air filter regularly increase energy efficiency?
3 Does an annual tune up of HVAC improve efficiency?
4 Does installing a programmable thermostat make a difference in energy efficiency?
5 How can sealing your air ducts help improve energy efficiency?
6 What does SEER  (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) have to do with efficiency?
7 What about insulation? Too much or not enough?
8 What types of lighting are most efficient?
9 What role does hot water play in efficiency?

 

1 Roof Color

Can roof color effect energy efficiency?  Yes!  Americans spend about $40 billion annually to air condition buildings – sixth of all electricity generated in this country.

  • ENERGY STAR qualified roof products reflect more of the sun’s rays. This can lower roof surface temperature by up to 100F, decreasing the amount of heat transferred into a building.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified roof products can help reduce the amount of air conditioning needed in buildings, and can reduce peak cooling demand by 10-15 percent.
  • During building design and when your existing roof needs replacement are both excellent times to consider reflective roofing.

Simple ways to achieve this can be buy panting you roof white silver or by using reflective shingles

“Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change,” said Secretary Chu. “By demonstrating the benefits of cool roofs on our facilities, the federal government can lead the nation toward more sustainable building practices, while reducing the federal carbon footprint and saving money for taxpayers.”

Heating Challenge:

As much as 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 — and your comfort. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. For more information, see our Guide to Energy Efficient Heating & Cooling PDF (708KB).

Heating Solutions:

Consider updating your heater.  If your heater is less than 80% efficient or greater than 15 years old, it may be time to update your heating appliance.  There are many efficient options as products have increased their efficiency in the past few years.  Options can include;

  • Energy Star Heating Furnaces & Boilers
  • Energy Star Cooling appliances, heat pumps
  • Geothermal heating/cooling

Earning the ENERGY STAR means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. By choosing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment and taking steps to optimize its performance, you can enhance the comfort of your home while saving energy. Saving energy helps you save money on utility bills and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the fight against climate change.

Electric air-source heat pumps, often used in moderate climates, use the difference between outdoor air temperatures and indoor air temperatures to cool and heat your home.

ENERGY STAR qualified heat pumps:

    • have higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) ratings, as well as a higher heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) than standard models, making them about 9% percent more efficient than standard new models and 20% more efficient then what you may have in your home.

Furnaces are the most commonly used residential heating system in the U.S. Running most often on gas, but sometimes on oil, propane, or electricity, furnaces deliver their heat through a duct system.

ENERGY STAR qualified oil and gas furnaces:

    • have annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 85% and 90%, or greater, making them up to 15% more efficient than standard models.
    • have highly efficient blower motors.

Geothermal heating & cooling.

Ground source heat pumps rely on an energy exchange between the air within the building being heated and the ground. Below ten feet the earth’s temperature is fairly constant, generally around ~10ºC (~50ºF). During the summer when the ambient temperature of the building exceeds that of the ground heat pumps are used to pump heat from the building in to the transfer medium (typically water with small amounts of ethanol or glycol) and is subsequently pumped through narrow pipes into the ground so that the heat can be dissipated in the earth. When the ambient temperature falls below the ground temperature the process works in reverse. Heat pumps extract heat from the ground and use it to heat the building.

geothermal

2 Change your air filter regularly

Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it.

  • At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy.
  • A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system – leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.

3 Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly

Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Learn more: Maintain your Equipment: A Checklist

4 Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat is ideal for people who are away from home during set periods of time throughout the week. Through proper use of pre-programmed settings, a programmable thermostat can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.

5 Seal your heating and cooling ducts

Ducts that move air to-and-from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump are often big energy wasters. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent – and sometimes much more.
Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter. Next, look to seal any other ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house.

heating&cooling-ducts

6  Understanding SEER rating of your AC.

The efficiency of air conditioners is often rated by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) which is defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.

The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output in Btu (British thermal unit) during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input in watt-hours during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.

For example, consider a 5,000-British-thermal-unit-per-hour (1,500 W) air-conditioning unit, with a SEER of 10 BTU/W·h, operating for a total of 1000 hours during an annual cooling season (e.g., 8 hours per day for 125 days).

SEER rating more accurately reflects overall system efficiency on a seasonal basis and EER reflects the system’s energy efficiency at peak day operations. Both ratings are important when choosing products. As of January 2006, all residential air conditioners sold in the United States must have a SEER of at least 13. ENERGY STAR qualified Central Air Conditioners must have a SEER of at least 14.

Today, it is rare to see systems rated below SEER 9 in the United States because aging, existing units are being replaced with new, higher efficiency units. The United States now requires that residential systems manufactured after 2005 have a minimum SEER rating of 13, although window units are exempt from this law so their SEERs are still around 10.

Substantial energy savings can be obtained from more efficient systems. For example by upgrading from SEER 9 to SEER 13, the power consumption is reduced by 30% (equal to 1 − 9/13). It is claimed that this can result in an energy savings valued at up to US$300 per year depending on the usage rate and the cost of electricity.

With existing units that are still functional and well-maintained, when the time value of money is considered, retaining existing units rather than proactively replacing them may be the most cost effective. However, the efficiency of air conditioners can degrade significantly over time. Therefore, maintenance should be performed regularly to keep their efficiencies as high as possible.

But when either replacing equipment, or specifying new installations, a variety of SEERs are available. For most applications, the minimum or near-minimum SEER units are most cost effective, but the longer the cooling seasons, the higher the electricity costs, and the longer the purchasers will own the systems, incrementally higher SEER units are justified. Residential split-system ACs of SEER 20 or more are now available, but at substantial cost premiums over the standard SEER 13 units.

7 Insulation

Heating and cooling account for 50 to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation:

  • saves money and our nation’s limited energy resources
  • makes your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house, and
  • makes walls, ceilings, and floors warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors: your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. Once the energy savings have paid for the installation cost, energy conserved is money saved – and saving energy will be even more important as utility rates go up.

This fact sheet will help you to understand how insulation works, what different types of insulation are available, and how much insulation makes sense for your climate. There are many other things you can do to conserve energy in your home as well. The Department of Energy offers many web sites to help you save energy by sealing air leaks, selecting more energy-efficient appliances, etc.

How Insulation Works  How insulation works

Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In winter, the heat moves directly from all heated living spaces to the outdoors and to adjacent unheated attics, garages, and basements – wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the summer, heat moves from outdoors to the house interior. To maintain comfort, the heat lost in winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in summer must be removed by your air conditioner. Insulating ceilings, walls, and floors decreases the heating or cooling needed by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.

Batts, blankets, loose fill, and low-density foams all work by limiting air movement. (These products may be more familiarly called fiberglass, cellulose, polyicynene, and expanded polystyrene.) The still air is an effective insulator because it eliminates convection and has low conduction. Some foams, such as polyisocyanurate, polyurethane, and extruded polystyrene, are filled with special gases that provide additional resistance to heat flow.

Reflective insulation works by reducing the amount of energy that travels in the form of radiation. Some forms of reflective insulation also divide a space up into small regions to reduce air movement, or convection, but not to the same extent as batts, blankets, loose-fill, and foam.

DOE/CE-0180
2008 Department of Energy
Assistant Secretary
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_01.html

8 Lightingindex

Currently there are three options for lighting; Traditional incandescent, CFL and LED.  LED will eventually replace incandescent bulbs, CFL’s are a temporary solution for energy efficient lighting.  The reason LEDs have not displaced CFls are twofold: Light quality and cost.

Recent developments in LED technology, however, have been addressing these issues. LEDs have been ‘clustered’ to provide more light, and mounted within diffuser lenses which spread the light across a wider area. And advancements in manufacturing technology have driven the prices down to a level where LED bulbs are more cost-effective than CFLs or incandescent bulbs. This trend is continuing, with LED bulbs being designed for more applications while the prices are going down over time.

The ‘sticker shock’ of the new LEDs remains a deterrent to their widespread acceptance by consumers. The following charts provide information cost comparison of each type as well as a output comparison.

Cost Comparison between LEDs, CFLs and Incandescent light bulbs

LED CFL Incandescent
Light bulb projected lifespan
50,000 hours
10,000 hours
1,200 hours
Watts per bulb (equiv. 60 watts)
6
14
60
Cost per bulb
$35.95
$3.95
$1.25
KWh of electricity used over
50,000 hours
300
700
3000
Cost of electricity (@ 0.20per KWh)
$60
$140
$600
Bulbs needed for 50k hours of use
1
5
42
Equivalent 50k hours bulb expense
$35.95
$19.75
$52.50
Total cost for 50k hours
$95.95
$159.75
$652.50

Energy Savings over 50,000 hours, assuming 25 bulbs per household:

Equivalent wattages and light output of Incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs

Light Output CFLsIncandescents Incandescent Compact Fluorescent
Lumens
Watts
Watts
Watts
450
4 – 5
8 – 12
40
300 – 900
6 – 8
13 – 18
60
1100 – 1300
9 – 13
18 – 22
75 – 100
1600 – 1800
16 – 20
23 – 30
100
2600 – 2800
25 – 28
30 – 55
150
Sourced from eartheasy.com

9 Heating Water

The cost of hot water heating is often overlooked in our modern lives. Although water heating represents the second largest energy expense in U.S. households, energy-saving technologies have only just begun to penetrate the market. Since consumers have largely accepted inefficient water heaters as a fact of life, changing expectations will require broad promotion of new technologies that can shave anywhere from 7 to 62 percent off household water heating costs.  Some technologies are Hybrid Hot Water Heater, Solar and geothermal.

Home solar energy usage

Save money on water heater

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