Given the exorbitant price of electricity, which is so high you’d think it’s made of gold, cooling the home is the bane of many Georgia homeowners’ existences. If you’re a passive energy consumer, you’re probably paying a whole lot more than Mr. and Mrs. McEfficient down the street, who are keeping a close eye on the energy efficiency of their home and the equipment within and who are practicing conservation strategies to lower their cooling costs.
Energy efficiency and energy conservation are similar, but they’re not the same. By employing both strategies for reducing the amount of energy you use, however, you can save a lot of dough while improving your comfort level this summer.
Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation
Energy efficiency is the practice of saving energy by using it more efficiently, while energy conservation is the practice of saving energy by changing the way you use it.
Think of it this way: to save money on gasoline, you practice energy efficiency by making sure your car is in good shape so that it will use less gas to get you where you need to go. You practice energy conservation by driving your car less, maybe riding your bike to work a couple of days a week or arranging a carpool.
Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency
Improving the energy efficiency of your home and its energy-consuming appliances is very, very easy. And it’s also really cheap. For a few bucks, you can vastly improve your home’s efficiency in a single weekend by making these improvements:
- Seal air leaks that make your air conditioner work overtime to compensate.
- Seal loose joints, cracks, and holes in your ductwork, which are probably leaking out between 20 and 30 percent of the air that moves through, according to the Department of Energy.
- Insulate ducts that run through unconditioned areas like a crawlspace or attic to keep the air inside warm.
- Stock up on air filters, and inspect your filter every month. Replace the dirty filter when you can’t see any white material behind the dust.
- Insulate the water heater tank and pipes to save up to 9 percent on your annual hot water bill.
- Lower the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees, which is perfectly sufficient for most household needs.
- Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs,) which use 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Ways to Conserve Energy
Changing the way you use energy will add up to big savings over the course of a year.
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically control your thermostat settings. Program it to 72 degrees while you’re at home and to 82 when you’re asleep and at work. For every degree you set back the thermostat for a period of 8 hours, you’ll save up to 3 percent on your cooling costs.
- Turn off the A/C on nice evenings and open your windows.
- Install low-flow showerheads to reduce the amount of hot water you use.
- Run the dishwasher and clothes washer on the shortest cycle, and only wash full loads.
- Put your outdoor lights on a timer so that they turn off as soon as it’s light outside.
- Turn off lights when you’re not in the room, and threaten your kids with additional chores to pay for the extra energy they use if they keep leaving their bedroom lights on all day.
If you’d like to hear about more surefire ways to lower your energy bills through efficiency and conservation, feel free to contact us at Comfort Control, Inc.