Energy Saving Ideas

 Energy Saving

 Landscaping, LED Bulbs, Insulating, Turn Off or Leave Lights On, Water Heaters, Refrigerators, CFL Bulbs, Dimmer Switches

Energy Savings Ideas with Landscaping

A great way to use mother nature to reduce your homes heating costs and cooling bills is with smart landscaping ideas. Blocking cold winds and using sunlight in the winter can help significantly with your heating bill and and shading in the summer can help reduce you cooling cost. Take a look at the picture below for some landscaping techniques for energy savings ideas to reduce power bills.
Blocking Cold Winds Landscaping

Foliage Wind Break Landscaping Picture

LED Bulbs

I just got my first L.E.D. (light emitting diode) bulbs to test out. They consume a fraction of the power that an incandescent or even a florescent bulb would use. The one I got draws about 1.5 watts (less than half of a night light bulb) and gives off about the same amount of light as a 25 watt bulb.This bulb is great for accent lighting or a low light lamp use. In my case we use it in the lamp on baby's changing table so as not to have a harsh overly bright light in the middle of the night. The draw back of these bulbs currently are the cost and some people may not like the color of the light. The bulbs I have are about $6.00 a piece and would not be useful where a lot of light is required. The brighter bulbs comparable to 60 watts can cost about $60.00 apiece. From the data I have seen if you use these bulbs 4 hours a day they should last 63 years. WOW! More on this later.

Update...The prices have come down a lot on LED bulbs. I have now replaced several of my CFLs with the LEDs and I am very happy with them.

Keep the Cold Out

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the most common places where air escapes in homes are:
Floors, walls, ceilings …….. 31 percent
Ducts ……………………….. 15 percent
Fireplace …………………… 14 percent
Plumbing …………………… 13 percent
Doors ………………………. 11 percent
Windows …………………… 10 percent
Fans and vents ……………. 4 percent
Electric outlets …………….. 2 percent
Reducing air leaks could cut as much as 10 percent from an average household’s monthly energy bill. You can take easy, inexpensive steps to reduce household energy consumption and minimize energy loss.

 Seal leaks around doors, windows and other openings – such as pipes or ducts – with caulk or weather-stripping.

Household Furnishings

Household furnishings can have a lot to do with energy savings. I go into homes and mobile homes that have sofas, chairs, dressers etc. blocking a/c and heating vents. To make it worse I see homes and mobile homes that have the return register blocked and when we look at the filter they look like a wool blanket.  Please be sure to change your filters regularly. If needed there are devices called register deflectors that can help to redirect air flow around your homes obstacles (see picture below) these can solve a lot of problems and they are inexpensive.

Register Deflector

Register Deflector Picture

Heating and A/C Mini Split Units

One really smart idea that I have seen is in heating and a/c. There are units called "mini splits". If you get a chance check it out. It could solve a lot of problems since it requires no duct work and heats and cools with great energy savings. The system installs easily in most homes.

Common Sense Heating and Cooling Tips

I see many places that do not use common sense when it comes to heating and cooling. Use blinds and curtains to block sun light in the summer and use the sun light in the winter to help heat. This little common sense tip could help with your homes energy costs. Good weatherization practices go a long ways. Works at my home.

Insulating Outlets Switch Drafts

Insulation is a great idea to help make homes energy efficient. One thing that seems to get over-looked is the air flow through electrical outlets and switches. Try this some time when it is cold out side and windy. Put your hand in front of different outlets around your home and see if you can feel air blowing in. You can get outlet and switch insulators (see picture below of a outlet insulator) at most hardware stores to help stop this problem. Then when you have done that I highly recommend using those child safety plugs to finish it off (see picture below of a child safety plug). Ever felt a draft while sitting down and reading your favorite book or watching TV and could not figure out why? HMMM.

    Outlet Insulator

Outlet Insulator Picture


Child Safety Plug Picture

Child Safety Plug

Under Home Moisture

One problem I see around here is moisture under homes. When I look around I find that there is inadequate ventilation and no moisture barrier under the house.This also is a great attractor for damp wood termites and other critters.

Clothes Dryer Duct
How is your clothes dryer duct work doing? Most people don't check. If yours is the plastic type upgrade it to the newer metal flex or even "hard" pipe.The plastic type not only cracks and splits over time most of the ones I see are drooping and causing lint to build up inside. This not only reduces the efficiency of the dryer it can be a potential fire hazard.

Duct Tape and Adhesives (Glue)
No duct tape does not fix everything! Even though my father-in-law comes close. Use the proper adhesives or tape for the job. There are many out there, so read the label or ask someone with knowledge on the subject. If something is repaired wrong the first time it may stop you from fixing it right the second time. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

I found this on a "under the kitchen sink water leak" call. Surprisingly it was not the source of the leak. The cold water supply line was the culprit. This wins my DUCT TAPE ENGINEERING AWARD! (Yes, it was replaced anyway.)

Duct Tape Engineering Award

Duct Tape Engineering Award Picture

Screws or Nails

Consider using screws instead of nails on your projects. They hold better and can make for easy disassembly and repair if needed. Be sure to use the proper type of screw for the job. Multi-purpose or sheetrock screws are great for a variety of repair jobs. They are available in an "indoor" and "outdoor" types.

Refrigerator Coils

Often something that is overlooked is the cleaning of the coils on the refrigerator. Cleaning these out with a vacuum or blowing them out will help to keep the unit working better and using less power. Try using a cardboard paper towel tube on the end of the vacuum hose to squeeze between the coils.

Roof Vents

Venting out the hot attic air is important in mobile homes. Generally one square foot of vent for every 300 square feet of ceiling is adequate. 1800 square foot home would require 6 square foot of vent. If you have any less you could have heat and possibly moisture buildup. If you already have vents make sure you have enough and that they are not obstructed. Vents can be purchased at any D.I.Y. store.

Water Pipe Insulation

A good energy saving idea tip is to wrap your homes hot water pipes to cut down on radiation cooling. Ideally this should be done from the water heater throughout the home to all points.

Turn Off or Leave On Lights Energy Saving Tip

Turn it off or leave it on? I sometimes get asked the question if it is less expense on your power bill to leave a light on rather than turn it on and off as you enter or exit rooms. Recent tests results I have seen say turn it off. This makes sense in a two ways. 1. The light is not consuming power while it is not needed and 2.The life of the bulb and fixture is extended. This applies to incandescent and fluorescent lighting. Yes, it takes more power to cause a light to light up than it does to leave it on... However you would have to exit and re-enter the room in microseconds to have an issue with this. Save power and turn it off!

Water Heaters and Refrigerators Energy Saving Ideas

When considering ways to cut energy cost a lot of people overlook the two things that consume power 24/7. They would be your homes refrigerator and the water heater. Look for the rated power consumption sticker for comparison (the yellow one) and pick out the lowest. Now if your not about to buy any new ones maybe you could adjust the fridge with the use of a thermometer designed for this purposes and get the settings for the fridge and freezer to their proper levels. These levels are indicated on the thermometer. Remember that any adjustment that you make could take a lot of time before the temperature may actually change in the unit. Read the instructions that comes with your thermometer. Don't forget to keep the coils cleaned and make sure that there is adequate space for the unit to breath. Now, for the water heater turn down the thermostat to about 120 degrees or less and install a timer switch. When going off for a while, like a vacation, turn off the breaker. These two things help keep my homes power bill down.

Compact Florescent Bulbs

I highly recommend compact fluorescent bulbs as an alternative to incandescent lights if your not going to use LED bulbs. I have been using them with great results for years. My power bill was reduced by 30%. They last far longer than regular bulbs and they produce very little heat. They come in many varieties such as dimmable, three way and flood type bulbs that are great for recessed lights. Recessed lights can get very hot and anytime you can reduce heat you can prolong the life of the fixture. Outdoors is a great place to use CFL too! Be sure to use the types suitable for outdoor use.

Surge Protectors

Did you know that surge protectors wear out and loose their ability to protect those precious electronics. They should be changed out every few years or in the case of a big surge that may have occurred, such as a nearby lightning strike. Some models come with a light that will alert you when they have lost their ability to protect. They are rated in joules, which is a current or amperage measurement, the higher the joule rating the better the protection.

Extension Cords

I dislike is extension cords. They are potential problems. Extension cords are really meant for temporary use. If you have to plug something in with a extension cord long term because there is not an outlet nearby I recommend that you have a licensed electrician add an outlet. Extension cords are responsible for many fires.

Dimmer Switches

Dimmer switches DO NOT save energy. They simply dissipate the energy that would be used at the light bulb across an internal resister and end up using the same amount of power anyway. They also tend to fail more often that a regular switch.

Power Usage Time

Did you know that power companies generally vary their rates at different times of the day. Power companies charge more during peak usage hours. Typically this is 9 to 5 or so. The later at night you wait to use your homes major appliances such as clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers the cheaper they will be to use. Some power companies can provide you with the rate breakdown by time. Over time this adds up to big savings.