Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Making Your Home Energy Efficient Room by Room: Laundry

Washing clothes by hand and hanging them to dry is the most energy-saving approach to laundry in terms of electricity.  But let’s get real. Most of us don’t have the personal energy to hand-wash and air-dry all of our clothes!
You most likely spend hundreds of dollars per year on electricity to wash and dry your clothes, but it’s easy to save electricity in your laundry room with some simple tricks. Get ready to shrink your electric bill – but not your clothes.
Wash Right
Energy-Efficient Laundry Guide
Clothing Type
Darks, bright colors, delicates
COLD wash
Tip: Cold water keeps colors from bleeding and fading, and prevents shrinkage.
COLD, hand-wash
COLD, hand-wash
·         Use cold water. According to ENERGY STAR almost 90% of the energy consumed by your washing machine is used simply to heat water. Given that, you can save a lot of energy by washing your clothes in cold water. In fact, switching to cold-water clothes washing for a year can save enough energy to run an average home for up to two weeks! Cold-water washing also keeps colors bright, reduces wrinkling and won’t set stains.
·         Although you may find that regular detergent is sufficient,try out cold-water detergents that are specifically formulated to work in cooler temperatures.
·         Run a full load. The machine will use the same amount of mechanical energy, regardless of how full it is. If you don't run a full load, be sure to set the water level for the amount of laundry you are running.
·         Use energy-saving settings. Avoid the excessively hot “sanitary cycle,” but do choose the “high spin” option to cut down on drying time. And don’t wash for longer than you need to – some loads only need 10 minutes of washing.
·         Set your water heater to 120 degrees F (instead of the usual 140 F) so you can save energy even when washing clothes in hot or warm water.
Get Smart about Drying
·         Sort similar fabrics together, starting with a load of fast-drying fabrics, and do back-to-back loads to take advantage of residual heat.
·         Clean the lint filter after each dryer load to improve air circulation and cut down on drying time.
·         Use energy-saving settings. Select low temperature for delicates and medium for most clothes. Choose auto-dry instead of timed-dry to prevent over-drying, which causes shrinkage and static electricity and generally wears clothes out.
·         Get a drying rack for “almost-dry” clothes, delicates and silks. Fabrics like wool should be laid flat to dry. 
·         Throw in a clean, dry towel or tennis ball to dry clothes quicker. The towel absorbs moisture, while the tennis ball helps circulate air between clothes.

Buying a New Washing Machine?
If you are in the market for a washing machine, get one with the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR washing machines use 37% less energy and 50% less water than regular ones – both of which can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the machine.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making Your Home Energy Efficient Room by Room: Bathroom

There are several places you can look to save energy in your bathroom, from lighting to ventilation to water use and more. Use these energy saving tips to save energy and increase your comfort and safety in your bathroom.
Save Energy with Energy Efficient Bathroom Lighting
Bathroom lights are some of the most commonly used lights in an average American home. Vanity lighting often has several light bulbs that use excess electricity and produce lots of heat. You can start saving up to 75 percent on your lighting costs immediately by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified LED bulbs or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). ENERGY STAR qualified residential LED bulbs uses at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs while providing optimal light color.  Compact fluorescent bulbs provide high quality lighting and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. CFLs provide warm, bright lighting and generate less heat than incandescent lighting.  LEDs generate no heat. To save energy on bathroom lighting, you may also consider replacing your lighting fixtures with ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures, which come in a wide variety of styles. Some of the best advice for saving energy - turn off the lights when you leave!
Use a Ventilation Fan
Control moisture as well as mold and mildew growth by installing a properly-sized bathroom exhaust fan, and running it while you shower or bathe, and for 15 minutes afterward. ENERGY STAR models run quieter than standard fans, and can provide significant energy savings. ENERGY STAR ventilation fans that have lighting built in use around 65% less energy than standard models, which can save you around $120 over the life of the fan. To prevent moisture, mold and mildew problems, make sure that the ducts from the fan lead to the outdoors, and not into the ceiling. Learn how to prevent moisture problems and how to prevent mold, mildew, and musty odors.
Use Water Efficiently
Using a low-flow 2.5 gallon-per-minute shower head, you'll save 5 gallons of water by taking a 10-minute shower compared to a typical bath. You'll also save up to $145 per year on electricity. Of course, taking shorter showers will increase the savings.
Do you have a leaky faucet in the bathroom sink, tub or shower? If you do, it's probably wasting more water and energy than you realize. A leak of a drop per second may not seem like a big deal, but over a year you've wasted 1,661 gallons of water! And if it's hot water, you've thrown up to $35 down the drain in electricity or natural gas costs. Save water and energy. Fix drips today!
Air Sealing for Comfort and Energy Efficiency

You can improve energy efficiency, reduce drafts and help prevent common mold, mildew and moisture problems in the bathroom by sealing air leaks around windows, baseboards and floors. Learn what you can do to help prevent moisture on windows. You can also improve the energy efficiency in your bathroom by sealing gaps or holes around plumbing pipes, ductwork and electrical wiring.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Making Your Home Energy Efficient Room by Room: Living Area

The living room is a gathering spot for family and friends to spend quality time. It's also a place where you can take simple steps to be more energy-efficient.
Table Lamp
Replace your highest-use fixtures or the light bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR models.
Living room table and floor lamps are two of the most used light fixtures in a home. Conventional torchiere lamps also can be the highest wattage light fixtures in the home. ENERGY STAR qualified lighting fixtures and replacement bulbs can be found at home improvement and hardware stores, lighting showrooms, and other retail stores, including online outlets.
Ceiling Fan w/ Lighting
Depending on when and how you operate them, ceiling fans can provide comfort and help you save on your energy bills.
In the winter, your ceiling fan can help improve your comfort. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.
In the summer, check to make sure your fan is blowing air downward to help you feel cooler. On hotter days, dialing up the thermostat by only two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14% over the course of the cooling season. Use low wattage CFLs in the ceiling fan light fixture for cooler light bulbs and more energy savings. And remember: Ceiling fans cool only people, not the room, so when you leave the room, turn the ceiling fan off.
Light Switch
Remember to always turn off your lights when leaving a room.
During cold weather, take advantage of the sun's warmth by keeping drapes open during daylight hours. To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close window shades and drapes in warm weather.
Power Strip
Use a power strip as a central “turn off” point for electronics, video games, and computers when not in use.
Air Register
Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork. Also make sure that all vents are clear of any furniture or rugs to improve air flow and comfort. If your home has radiators, you can place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall.
During the winter months, replace your screens with storm windows to provide an extra barrier to the cold outside air. Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors that leak air. If replacing windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified models designed for your area, and save $150–500 per year in energy costs. With proper installation to ensure all gaps around them are sealed, ENERGY STAR qualified windows can help improve your comfort, cut drafts, and reduce fading of interior furnishings.
Learn how to fix problems with moisture on windows in your home.
Apply caulk and weather stripping around windows and doors that leak air.

Fireplace Damper
Close the flue damper tightly when not in use. Otherwise, warmed or cooled air can easily escape from the house.
A chimney is designed to remove by-products from a fire by creating a draft. The draft also pulls air from your home up the chimney-air that you've paid to cool or heat. Even without a fire in the fireplace, there still will be a draft in the chimney as long as there's a temperature difference between indoors and out. Closing the damper will keep air conditioned (or warmed) air in the living space where it belongs.
Home Theatre System
Look for the ENERGY STAR on consumer electronics products. These products use less energy without sacrificing quality or performance. Seal any holes with caulk or spray foam where pipes or TV/cable wires and vents enter or exit your home.
Consumer electronics play an increasingly larger role in your home's energy consumption, accounting for up to 15 percent of household electricity use. Many consumer electronics products use energy even when switched off. Electronics equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR help save energy when off, while maintaining features like clock displays, channel settings, and remote control functions.

Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters when not in use.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Making Your Home Energy Efficient Room by Room: Bedroom

You want your bedroom to be as comfortable as possible, for sleeping and when you're awake. Use these simple energy saving tips to make your bedroom more energy efficient and comfortable at the same time.
Energy Efficient Bedroom Lighting
Replace fixtures and bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified lighting products. One of the easiest places to start saving energy in your bedroom is with lighting. You can start saving up to 75% on your lighting costs immediately by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified LED bulbs or compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). ENERGY STAR qualified residential LED bulbs uses at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs while providing optimal light color.  Compact fluorescent bulbs provide high quality lighting and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.
You can also save energy in the bedroom by replacing your regular lighting fixtures with ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures. They come in a wide range of designs, from floor and table lamps to ceiling fixtures, to suit any style. You can save more than $65 a year in energy costs simply by replacing your 5 most used lights with ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs or fixtures. And whichever light bulbs or fixtures you use, remember to turn off the light when it's not being used.

TV and Other Electronic Devices
Consumer electronics account for 15% of household electricity use in the US, on average. That makes it a good place to start saving energy. TV's, DVD players and other electronic devices can eat up a lot of electricity, so be sure to turn them off whenever they're not being used. TVs are getting larger. In fact, some of the largest, high resolution, direct view TVs (versus rear projection products) can use as much electricity each year as a new, conventional refrigerator, or roughly 500 kWh, every year.  So if you're buying new equipment, choose products with the ENERGY STAR logo. ENERGY STAR qualified televisions use about 40% less energy than standard units. Many devices use energy even when they're turned off.  They use less energy when the device is switched off, and still maintain functions like clocks and channel settings. To save more energy, always unplug power adapters, cell phone chargers and other battery chargers when not in use.
Seal Windows for Comfort and Energy Savings
You want to stay cozy in your bedroom, especially in the winter months. To avoid drafts in the winter, replace window screens with storm windows, which help prevent cold outside air from entering your bedroom. Even with storm windows, you may find window and door frames that leak cold air and reduce your energy efficiency. Caulk and weather-strip around the leaky frames to reduce drafts. If your windows are old and in need of replacement, look for ENERGY STAR qualified models that are rated for your climate zone (your window contractor or retailer will be able to help you choose the right windows). With proper installation, you can save up to $95 per year in energy costs and have improved comfort, less drafts and protect your interior furnishings from fading.

Energy Saving Tips for Window Air Conditioners
Do you have a window air conditioner in your bedroom? If you do, you can save money with these energy saving tips:
During winter months, cover the air conditioner from the outside with a tight-fitting insulating cover to keep heated indoor air from escaping to the outside. Or better yet, remove the air conditioner for the best protection against energy loss and to prevent drafts.
The air conditioner should fit tightly in the window to prevent hot outdoor air from getting in.
If you're buying a new window air conditioner, consider an ENERGY STAR qualified model, which uses at least 10% less energy than standard air conditioner models.
Keep Air Vents Clear
To maximize your comfort and energy efficiency, make sure air vents and registers aren't blocked by furniture, so air can flow freely throughout the room.