In the winter your heating system is probably your biggest energy user, accounting for between 35% and 65% of your total monthly bill.
- Don’t touch it – Before bedtime turn down your thermostat for more energy savings. If you don’t want to wake up to a cold house, let a programmable thermostat turn the heat up an hour before you wake up. If you have a heat pump, raising the thermostat more than 2°-4°F at a time could cause the electric heating strips to come on, significantly increasing your heating costs.
- Don’t let heat escape – Keep windows and doors closed during cool periods. Weather-strip and caulk your doors and window. It can save you as much as 6% on your heating costs. When you’re not using your fireplace, close the damper.
- Close them at night – Closing blinds and drapes at night will help keep the cold out and warmth in. In cooler months be sure to open them in the morning so the warmth of the sun can help heat your home.
- Insulate your home properly – A large portion of your heat can be lost through your ceiling, walls, and floor. That means you’re paying for something you’re not keeping. Proper insulation will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The higher the “R” value, the greater the insulating power. Installing R-38 ceiling insulation will cut heating costs. In some areas in the Northwest, R-49 insulation is recommended. Your attic must also be adequately ventilated to prevent heat build-up in the summer. You can install insulation yourself or have a licensed contractor assist you. Call the PUD for program information.
- Keep it clean – A furnace with a dirty filter has to work harder to heat air for your home. Check filters at least twice during the heating season, and either clean or replace them. Also, check to see that heating vents are unobstructed so your system doesn’t overwork itself trying to get heat into your home. It’s also a good idea to have your entire system checked every year by a qualified heating contractor.
- Wear the layered look – Consider wearing layers of clothing inside the house. It will keep your body heat in and you won’t need to turn up the thermostat.
To make your home comfortable in the summer you have several options ranging from simply opening windows to installing a central air conditioning system.
- Install insulation – Installing insulation is generally one of the best things you can do to reduce your home’s cooling costs. That’s because up to 20% of your home’s air conditioning can be lost to the great outdoors. If you plan to insulate your home, check with the Tillamook PUD for the recommended insulation levels.
- Do your homework – Important factors to consider when shopping for a new air conditioner are: size of the area that needs to be cooled, climate, your home’s construction, sun exposure, wiring, insulation, and the number and location of windows. Once you have this information you should consider all the types available and determine which will cool your home for the lowest cost. The SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio- all new central air conditioners have a minimum SEER rating of 10. Consider buying a high efficiency model with a SEER rating of 11 or higher. (A SEER of 16 can save you up to 40% on your cooling costs.) Whole house fans, evaporative coolers, heat pumps, room air conditioners, and central air conditioning systems all have their pros and cons, so do a little research before buying.
- Shade your house – Use landscaping, awnings, and overhangs to provide shade around the outside of your home. A shaded house is easier to cool than one in the direct sunlight. There are even white reflective roof paints available that can reduce air conditioning costs.
- Set and leave it – The best temperature for your air conditioners thermostat is 78°F or higher. If you don’t want to come home to a hot house, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat.
- Use fans instead – A central air conditioning system can use up to 10 kilowatt hours per hour to operate. In contrast, a fan (ceiling or portable) may use one kilowatt hour per hour to operate, a potential savings of up to 90% on those days when a fan will do the trick.
- Turn it off – If you plan to leave for a few minutes or more, turn your fan off. Running it while you’re not there is a definite energy waster.
- Maintain it – Proper maintenance helps your air conditioner run more efficiently. Replace disposable filters or clean permanent filters every few months during the cooling season. It’s a good idea to have your entire system checked on a yearly basis by a qualified air conditioning contractor.
- Clean the coils – Clean the outside condenser coils with diluted detergent and rinse thoroughly at the beginning and the end of the air conditioning season.
- Watch those windows – During the cooler morning and evening hours, open your windows and use the outside air to cool your home. During the heat of the day, close the drapes and blinds to keep the warm sun out. Consider installing reflective films or solar shade screens on windows with the greatest exposure to the summer sun (this can help keep your furniture and carpet from fading too).
- Keep it as cool as possible – Install your air conditioner out of the direct sunlight.
- Keep vents clear – An obstructed vent wastes both energy and money.
- Keep it in – First, keep your doors and windows closed when you have the air conditioner on.