Builder Focus: Reducing Energy Consumption

2013-08-03T12:00:00Z Builder Focus: Reducing Energy ConsumptionMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
August 03, 2013 12:00 pm  • 

Everyone knows energy use has environmental impacts - and it’s also a fact that high energy use can significantly impact your household budget. To save some green while reducing your carbon footprint, consider implementing these helpful suggestions for a more energy efficient home today from the National Association of Home Builders:

• Keep your cooling system well-tuned by a professional service person.

• Set your air conditioner thermostat as high as you still feel reasonably comfortable.

• Don't set the thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. Your house will not cool any faster.

• If you have window air conditioners, turn them off when a room will be vacant for a few hours. You'll use less energy cooling the room down later than if you had left the unit running.

• Use a fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner.

• Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. Heat from these items is sensed by the thermostat and could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

• Keep out daytime sun with blinds or shades.

• Keep lights off in vacant rooms.

• Close doors to seldom-used rooms and turn off HVAC in these areas.

• Use large appliances in the early morning and late evening.

• Open the windows and use a fan on cooler days.

• Dress appropriately for the warmer indoor temperatures.

• Use cold water rather than hot when running the garbage disposal.

• Boil water in a covered pan; the water boils faster when the pan is covered.

• Keep range top burners and reflectors clean so your stove operates at peak efficiency.

• When using an oven or an electric burner, turn it off a little while before the cooking is done. The oven or element will stay hot after you turn it off.

• When you have a choice, use the range top instead of the oven.

• Let your dishes air dry.

• Use your dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.

• Minimize hot water use by washing your clothes in cold water.

• Try setting your water heater at 120 degrees.

• Clean or replace HVAC filters regularly. Keep outside vents free of leaves or debris that may clog vents.

• Use kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans sparingly. These fans can blow away a house full of heated or cooled air in an hour.

In addition, reducing water use in your home can save a few extra dollars on your water bill, but water conservation has a number of significant positive environmental effects, including preserving fresh water habitats such as Lake Michigan and saving energy.

Not only does a great deal of energy go into transporting water to our homes, even more is used to heat water for in our kitchens and bathrooms. Conserving water can prevent some of the pollution caused by excessive energy use while allowing you to save even more on your energy bill. Try these simple, yet impactful, water conservation tips:

• Take showers rather than baths. Showers use about a third as much water.

• Take shorter showers.

• Avoid leaving the water running while shaving and brushing teeth.

• Don't use the toilet as a trash can.

• Use the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.

• Don't run water continuously for vegetable and dish washing.

• Scrape dishes before loading them into the dishwasher so you won't have to rinse them.

• Water lawns in the morning to avoid evaporation.

• Keep grass at least two inches high to shade roots.

• Use mulch or ground covering plants to prevent excessive evaporation.

• Use waste water from the house to water your garden.

• Plant native or drought tolerant plants.

• Water trees slowly, deeply and infrequently to encourage deep rooting. A slow drip for an hour once a week should be sufficient for most trees.

• Use a broom rather than the hose to clean off walkways, patios and other outdoor areas.

• When washing your car, use a bucket of water or a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle instead of letting the hose run.

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