For starters, there are three key factors which will cut our energy use for heating and cooling, and reduce environmental emissions, from 20% to 50%: insulation, attic ventilation and proper maintenance of our heating/cooling systems.
More than half of the energy used for heating is lost through uninsulated walls, floors, ceilings and attics. To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (12-15 inches), depending on the insulation type.
It is important to make sure our attics are well-ventilated, using passive vents and natural air flow. Traditional static air vents in a roof don't provide air movement and work solely by convection. As the air in the attic heats up, it tries to flow through the static vents and does not move quickly. Turbine vents move the air, but they only work well when there is a strong sustained wind blowing outdoors.
The best ventilation is soffit ventilation. The more air moving in from the lower part of the roof, the better. Make sure the air space on top of your exterior walls is not blocked with insulation. Consider installing rafter vents (insulation baffles). Rafter vents ensure the soffit vents are clear and there is a channel for outside air to move into the attic at the soffits and out through the gable or ridge vents.
Proper maintenance of our heating/cooling systems in our homes not only helps insure the longevity of the system, but it also saves us energy and lowers the cost of our heating and/or air conditioning bills. Most heating/air conditioning companies offer a Spring and/or Fall check-up or yearly maintenance agreement for our HVAC systems at a moderate price. Take advantage of these offers which will usually include cleaning the condenser coil, checking to see if the air conditioner is fully charged with freon so it operates efficiently, and checking your duct system for leaks and proper insulation. Remember: your energy losses cost you money.
Other Energy Saving Tips
- Change your furnace filter monthly.
- Consider a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
Adjust the thermostat in small degree changes.
- Keep furniture and drapes away from HVAC air supply and return air ducts.
When installing a new furnace and/or air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model and be sure to select the proper size for your home.
- Install your air conditioning compressor in a shady spot so that it will work more efficiently.
- Allow plenty of room for air flow around the air conditioning compressor for it to operate most efficiently.
The benefits of regular maintenance are cleaner air to breathe, savings on electrical energy cost and pro-longing the life span of the equipment.
About the Author:
Sue Proctor is the founder of The Earth Keepers. If you have questions or comments, you can contact The Earth Keepers at firstname.lastname@example.org.