Want to Save Money and Energy?
Use Your Heating and
Air Conditioning Wisely!

By Dan Davenport

You can save a lot of money and energy by using your home heating and home cooling system efficiently and well.
More than half of the energy consumed in the average home goes to heating and cooling. This makes it the largest energy expense for most homes. There are many newer and much more efficient technologies available today that will save you a great deal of money heating and cooling your home, and put less demand on our earth's natural resources.

As you look for ways to save energy and money in your home, make sure you include your heating and cooling system in your plans. As you research this, you may find that it is actually more economical -- and better for your finances and the environment -- to replace the entire system, heat, hot water, and cooling rather than just put small fixes on your existing system.

The first steps to adding energy efficient improvements to your home is research your local regulations and see what tax incentives and other rebates are available from the various governments and power authorities that affect you. This can drastically reduce the cost of your improvements -- allowing you to add even more money and energy saving ideas to your home. The internet, of course, makes it VERY easy to do this research.

Next, look for ENERGY STAR® rated products when you buy. They can save on your energy bills by as much as 30 percent. Look at energystar.gov to find dealers and installers near you when you want to upgrade your heating and cooling systems -- as well as lighting, appliances, windows, home electronics, and office equipment.

As you research new technologies, compare the Energy Fact Sheets for different types, models, and designs to help you compare energy usage. For instance, for boilers and furnaces, you will want high Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings. The national minimum standard is about 78% AFUE. However, ENERGY STAR® models on the market may exceed 90% AFUE. Compare units equally so you get the savings you expect.

Because you don't need to heat or cool your home as much at night while you are sleeping and during the day while you are away, "double setback" programmable thermostats are one of the biggest money and energy savers you can add to your home. They automatically reduce heating and cooling settings at these times to save a great deal of money and energy.

Since home heating may consume about half of most families' winter energy costs. Make sure your boiler or heat pump gets professional care every year.

Several times during the heating season, follow these simple steps to keep your heating system supplying the most heat for the least money -- and energy. You'll be surprised how much money this saves.

  • Bleed trapped air from your hot-water radiators. If you are not sure how this works for your home, definitely ask a professional.
  • Keep warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators clean of accumulated dust and clear of furniture, carpeting, and drapes to ensure maximum airflow.
  • Clean or replace the filters on forced air heating and cooling systems frequently, many times as often as once a month, to insure maximum airflow for the most efficient heating (and cooling) -- and the most energy, and money, savings.

A great heating trick is to place heat-resistant reflectors (aluminum sheets, available at your local hardware store or home center work well) between exterior walls and radiators. They reflect more heat into the house and allow less to escape through the walls.

During warmer weather, local area fans or ceiling fans move the air through you home to create a "wind chill" effect for more temperate living. Raising the thermostat setting as much as 4 degrees, can still keep you very comfortable -- and you'll save a lot of money.

When you use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans, they pull heated or cooled air out of your home quickly, so turn them off as soon as they have done their job. Consider putting them on Timer Switches to limit their "on time" and you can forget about when to turn them off.

Your hot water heat and domestic hot water pipes deserve insulation also. Preventing heat loss here can save you a lot of money.

Look for heating/cooling ducts that pass through unheated areas like attics, garages, and crawlspaces. Keep them well insulated and in good repair and you will deliver more heated or cooled air to the interior spaces of your home -- for less money.

The important thing is always think about energy use when you purchase and use the heating and cooling system in your home. You will save a great deal of power, lower your energy bills, and reduce the resources needed to create that power. Even if you create the power with your own wind and solar generators, if you use less for heating and cooling, you will have more for other things.

Copyright 2009 Dan Davenport

Dan Davenport wants the world to be a greener place - intelligently. If we use the energy resources we already have wisely and exploit viable, renewable energy sources, it is good for the planet, we will save money, and, not only we, but future generations, can continue to live comfortably.

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