Energy Efficiency Options on a Tight Budget

I know this has been done before, possible to death, however I want to talk today about inexpensive ways to improve your energy efficiency both at home and around your office. Countless articles have been written on this subject. This information is out there for you to find. I will tell you that you will not find a more comprehensive collection of low/no cost solutions for lowering your electric bill without hours of online research. I have implemented many of these at my home and am in the process of implementing many more. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

o Replace your air filter at least once a month. If you notice that the filter is always extremely dirty try replacing it every 2-3 weeks. The dirtier the filter the harder the HVAC system has to work.

o Turn off computers and surge/power strips at night or when the appliances attached to them are not needed. Beware the Vampires!

o Check weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows. Air infiltration can seriously affect the efficiency of your HVAC system.

o Wrap hot water pipes. Insulating the pipes will help to preserve the temperature in the lines and avoid wasted heat energy.

o If not already in use, install a digital, programmable thermostat. This can better monitor and control the indoor environment and help lower costs.

o Window films add/or solar screens can help reflect UV radiation and lower the heat gain experienced from windows.(not really a cheap one, but a great investment)

o Use seasonal natural lighting to your advantage. Allow southern light into the area during the winter to lower heating costs and northern exposure windows in the summer. Also opening blinds on the western side in the morning and eastern side in the evening.

o Utilize seasonal changes in the sun’s position in the sky to maximize the use of natural light.

o Use lighting occupancy sensors to monitor a room and automatically turn off the lights when the room is not in use.

o Improve airflow with vents in the lower parts of doors or with a 1.5”-2” gap under the door.

o When replacing burned out lights, look at using CFL or LED lights. Although they are more expensive than standard bulbs they can pay for themselves in a few months, last longer and use almost 80% less energy.

o Choosing the correct landscaping can also help. Shade trees and shrubs can cast shade and offer a barrier for UV radiation.(again, not really a cheap one, but a great investment)

o Using arbors and vines to cast shade are also options. Although somewhat more expensive than most of the other options this can also add value to the property.

o If you have a pool on the property, use a timer on the pool pump. Experts suggest that running the pump only 8-12 hours per day during the summer and 6-8 hours during the winter can save you lots on your electric bill.

o Use cold water to wash clothes whenever possible and dry clothes in consecutive loads to take advantage of heat stored in the machine.

o Wash/dry clothes and dishes in the morning and evening to avoid additional heat to the building during the hottest part of the day.

o Clean your lint trap in the dryer. It helps the machine work most efficiently. Also only dry clothes for as long as needed. Don’t set it to 70 minutes if it will only take 35 to dry what you have in it.

o Keep the freezer and fridge full, but not overcrowded. Using water bottles or bagged ice to take up space is a good idea. Plus you have emergency water and Ice on hand.

o Look under your refrigerator and kill the dust bunnies! Dust buildup on the coils can reduce the efficiency of the unit.

o Set the temperature in the fridge between 35f and 38f degrees and the freezer at 0f degrees. Test the temperature with a thermometer (that will read a few degrees below 0) in the center of the unit.

o Install aerators on all faucets to reduce water usage thus reducing hot water demand.

o And last but not least, turn off the TV and pick up a book. You’ll save money and learn something at the same time.

I hope you have found this informative and helpful. I guarantee if you do even half of these you can see a difference in your electric bill immediately. If you would like to know more about other efficiency options or free commercial energy analysis and strategic sourcing, please feel free to contact me.

Shaun Wicker, LEED AP
Commercial Energy Consultant

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