Taking a Critical Look at Your Energy Bill
Extreme temperatures during summer and winter generally have most of dreading our energy bills. While we can’t wish our energy bills away, a more logical solution is to critically examine how to manage, and ideally start to realize savings on this necessary expenditure. By making smarter choices, you can bring those energy bills down and even make your home more energy-efficient in the process.
Breaking Down the Energy Bill
Your energy bills include charges for using any system that requires power or electricity such as your appliances, lighting, and your HVAC system. As you rely more on your HVAC system, generally as it gets really hot in the summer or really cold in the winter, you notice that your energy bills increase. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling needs account for close to half of the energy households consume.
Typical household activity results in energy usage as follows in relation to the total energy bill:
- Heating – 29 percent
- Cooling -17 percent
- Water Heater – 14 percent
- Home Appliances – 13 percent
- Lighting – 12 percent
- Electronic Devices – 4 percent
- Other – 11 percent
Energy costs relating to your HVAC needs are likely to always represent a significant portion of your energy bill. Nevertheless, there are always ways in which those numbers can be reduced, particularly by increasing efficiency, and conservation techniques.
Reducing Heating and Cooling Costs
Even small adjustments to your general energy usage behavior can result in big savings. These are changes you and your family can make that require little time and effort, and that can be made without sacrificing your quality of life.
- Thermostat Regulation – You can realize valuable savings just by the way you use your thermostat. Resisting the urge for very cold settings in the summer and very warm settings in the winter, can make a difference on your energy bill. By maintaining a setting of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter you can save as much as 15 percent each year on your heating bill. A programmable thermostat takes the guesswork out of setting your temperature, and results in more efficient use of your system.
- Window Coverings – Use the sun and curtains to your advantage. During the hot months use covering such as curtains and blinds to reduce the effect of the sun’s rays. In the colder months, open curtains or raise blinds to allow the natural heat to help warm your home. Awnings and trees, strategically placed, can also help to give your home much-needed shade. These simple measures can help to reduce your reliance on your HVAC system.
- Change Your Filter – How often you change your filter will depend on the type you use as well as the how much the system is being used. During periods in which you rely heavily on your HVAC system – whether to cool or heat your home, you should check the filter more frequently. Dirty filters affect air quality and the efficiency of your system.
- Monitor Heat Gain/Loss – Cracks, or separations in doors or windows, for example, will affect the way your HVAC system works. Repairing by caulking or using weatherstripping, and adding insulation, especially in the attic, walls and floor space will help keep the hot air in during the winter and the cool air in during the summer. It will also prevent unwanted hot or cold air from entering your home. Also keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. Avoid activities that add heat to your home in the summer. Meals that require a lot of cooking time or use of the oven will add heat to your home, and increase the demand on your air conditioner. Instead cook quick meals or opt to prepare meals using a slow cooker or the outdoor grill.
- Upgrade Older Units – Older furnaces and AC units use more energy than their newer counterparts. If your furnace or AC is nearing the end of its useful life, you may need to replace it. That is the time to select Energy Star labeled units. Also, have the HVAC technician check your vents and ducts to make sure they are in good shape.
- Bring in a Professional – Your HVAC company will be able to help you to identify areas for saving by conducting an energy audit. In addition, routine maintenance will help to keep equipment operating efficiently, and using as little energy as possible.
Any measure that increases efficiency, and reduces your reliance on your HVAC system, will result in energy savings. Brennan’s Heating & Air Conditioning for more than 30 years, has helped businesses and residents in northern Virginia to realize great returns from their HVAC systems. Give us a call at (703) 491-2771 for more information on energy savings, and what our HVAC solutions can do for you today.
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