It's the time of year when homeowners need to think about the condition of their home for the upcoming winter. Focusing on energy savings will help the environment and put more dollars into your pocket at the end of the day.
The appliances that typically use the most energy are (in order): Air conditioner, electric water heater, pool pump, lights, refrigerator, clothes dryer, television, electric oven / range, clothes washer, and microwave. Use this list to investigate how to reduce your energy consumption.
Hot Water Heater
The hot water heater uses a lot of energy and often the pipes carrying the water need to be insulated. This is usually a cheap fix with slip-on insulated tubes that are easy to install. The amount of electricity used by a water heater can also be reduced by a "Little Gray Box" that powers the water heater only during preset times of day. This helps eliminate the unit running 24 hours per day.
If you are shopping for a new fridge, side-by-sides refrigerators use more energy than one with a freezer on the top. Keeping the freezer and refrigerator filled will make it run more efficiently. Set the temperature for 37 in the fridge and zero in the freezer.
If you have cats in your home, it's likely that your refrigerator is not running at top efficiency. It's a simple fix though; you can also clean the coils of your refrigerator and cut your costs by as much as 40%. Pull the unit out away from the wall and remove the backing to reveal the coils. Then just take a vacuum cleaner to the coils and you will be amazed.
Scrape dishes before you load them and soak in cold water if necessary. Wash full loads and select short cycles. Make sure you clean the filter and screens regularly. In warm weather such as South Carolina, you might want to run the unit in the early morning or late evening to reduce heat transfer to the house.
Washers and Dryers
Try to wash full loads and run them on cold or warm if possible. You can soak extra dirty clothes prior to the cycle starting. Dry clothes of similar weight and thickness so that they all dry evenly and prevent lighter fabrics from over-drying. Drying consecutive loads will save heat in the dryer. Make sure you clean the lint filters and if you are in the crawl space, check to see that the exhaust line is not sagging and holding water. That may block the flow of wet air to the outside and increase dry time. Metal ducting is preferable over flexible tubing.
Ovens and Ranges
To optimize heating on the range, use tight fitting lids on pans and select a burner that matches the pan size. A microwave or convection oven is more energy efficient than a regular conventional oven. You can turn off the oven two minutes before the end of cooking and let the oven finish the job. Use glass and ceramic pans in the oven. If you need to operate the self cleaning feature, do so while the oven is still hot from a heating job.
Heaters and Air Conditioners
Make sure you thermostat works property by testing with an accurate thermometer. Settings should be 78 for cooling, 68 for heating, and 55 at bedtime. Maybe wear a sweater inside! Insulate your walls in older homes, replace windows with thermal types and caulk all leaky areas around windows and lighting fixtures. If you feel that draft near the door, check the weather stripping and caulk around the door as well. Check your duct work for any leaks. Replace the filter regularly and be careful to keep the registers clear for air flow.
The new fluorescent bulbs are a good bet. Once you get used to the delay, they are quite energy efficient. Use natural lighting when possible. Solar tubes can bring light in from the roof into areas that need lighting. They even work with moon light! Turn off your light when not in use!
The effectiveness of the insulation in your attic is easy to determine on those frosty mornings when you see ice on the shingles. If there are melted areas when other homes around still look well covered in frost, your insulation is probably a little deficient. In newer homes, you will find a card attached to a rafter which identifies the amount of insulation needed for the house. Take a ruler and check the depth at several locations. If it's low, have more insulation blown in. You can do this yourself with a rental blower from Home Depot or Lowes, or you can have a contractor do the job. Either way, you will be saving money in the long run.
Turn off TV and radios when not in use. TV is #7 on the list above! Do not leave water running when you wash dishes or shave, and use a stopper when washing vegetables. Reduced-flow shower heads will save water. If you have a pool, cut down the operating time of the filter pump with a timer, install a pool cover, and consider a solar heating system.
While some of these tips involve day to day activities, many are based on smart home maintenance. By taking these proactive measures, you will keep the value on your home up and make it much easier to sell. For more tips on the selling of Greenville SC real estate, please contact The Cunningham Team.