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.

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