Air Quality Environment

According to the Department of Energy heating and cooling account for about 56% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. A wide variety of technologies are available for heating and cooling your home, and they achieve a wide range of efficiencies in converting their energy sources into useful heat or cool air for your home.

Here are a few conservation tips from the US Department of Energy:

When looking for ways to save energy in your home, be sure to think about not only improving your existing heating and cooling system, but also consider the energy efficiency of the supporting equipment and the possibility of either adding supplementary sources of heating or cooling or simply replacing your system altogether.

  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.
  • Use fans during the summer to create a wind chill effect that will make your home more comfortable. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
  • Turn off kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans within 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing to retain heated air.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperature according to your schedule.

You can reduce your home's heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent through proper insulation and air sealing techniques. These techniques will also make your home more comfortable. Reducing your home heating and cooling bills begins with conducting a home energy audit to assess where your home may be losing energy through air leaks or inadequate insulation.

  • Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain.
  • Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.
  • Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.
  • Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
  • Repair and weatherize your current storm windows, if necessary.
  • To test for air leaks on your own, on a windy day, hold a lit candle next to windows, doors, electrical outlets, or light fixtures to test for leaks. Also, tape clear plastic sheeting to the inside of your window frames if drafts, water condensation, or frost are present.
  • When you're shopping for new windows, look for the National Fenestration Rating Council label; it means the window's performance is certified.
  • Adequate insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawlspaces, as recommended for your geographical area, can save you up to 30 percent on home energy bills.

This summer, save money and stay cool. Keep your energy bill and your pollution output low this summer by taking a whole-house approach to cooling.

  • If your air conditioner is old, consider purchasing a new, energy-efficient model. You could save up to 50% on your utility bill for cooling.
  • Keep in mind that insulation and sealing air leaks will help your energy performance in the summertime by keeping the cool air inside.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but not to block the airflow. Place your room air conditioner on the north side of the house. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
  • For air conditioners, look for a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The current minimum is 13 SEER for central air conditioners.

If you live in a typical U.S. home, your appliances and home electronics are responsible for about 20 percent of your energy bills. These appliances and electronics include everything from clothes washers and dryers, to computers, to water heaters. By shopping for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label and turning off appliances when they're not in use, you can achieve real savings in your monthly energy bill.

  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
  • Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
  • Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air-drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.
  • Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers.
  • Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.