What accounts for almost half the energy use in a typical U.S. home?
It’s not that fridge in the garage that predates texting (although that’s a good guess). And it’s not your hot water heater that heats the water your teenagers like to hog.
It’s your HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter draws a mighty share of your energy budget. According to the Department of Energy, a typical home uses a whopping 48 percent of the energy pie just to heat and cool it.
Aside from replacing your furnace and central air unit with newer, higher-efficiency versions, there are some things you can do to increase HVAC efficiency, which can help reduce your energy bills.
Safe Electricity offers the following tips:
- Get a pre-season checkup by a professional HVAC technician, which could help HVAC components run more efficiently.
- Change all filters regularly for increased efficiency. Invest a little more in filters that trap smaller particles.
- If you have an energy intensive, large systems that get a lot of use, consider retrofitting, which means adding or replacing certain parts. Home owners can save up to 35 percent annually by retrofitting, according to the Department of Energy.
- Get a programmable or smart thermostat. You can save up to 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by adjusting your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day, according to Energy.gov.
- Consider a professional energy audit to reveal where your home is inefficient, including air leaks and exposed duct work.
- Instead of turning up the thermostat, use blankets and wear sweatshirts or sweaters to keep you warm.
- Don’t let warm air escape. Keep your windows and doors shut, and if you have a fireplace, make sure the flue is closed and glass doors are shut when not in use.
- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to force the warm air that rises downward.
- Make sure your vents and radiators aren’t blocked by rugs or furniture. Air will circulate better and it’s safer.
- If there are rooms you’re not using regularly, shut the vent and close the door.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed at night to help insulate your house; conversely, open curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day to let the sunlight in.
- Keep heat-producing appliances and lamps away from your thermostat, which can cause the system to run longer and work harder.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hottest part of the day.
- Make sure your outdoor condenser unit is clean and free from debris. Ideally, the unit should be in the shade.
- Use your clothes dryer and oven during the cooler parts of the day.