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Tips to Save Energy

Check back frequently for articles about how you can save energy on your heating & air conditioning while staying comfortable no matter the season. For more information, contact us or call us at 410-535-2234 today!

 

Make Small Changes and Lower Your Bills

With global carbon dioxide levels rising to dangerous heights, experts are predicting that climate change will wreak havoc with human lives in ensuing decades. But if the nation could reduce its energy use, particularly regarding burning fossil fuels, we might be able to delay or mitigate some of the damage. Plus, we’d all like to save a little money on our monthly utility bills.

Technology is one place that could help us avoid a dystopian future, as the world increases its reliance on wind, solar and other renewable energy sources and transitions away from oil, coal, and natural gas. However, the biggest factor in any energy revolution, the Washington Post argues, won’t be in technology but rather human behavior.

Change Your Habits
While we wait for viable clean fuel to arrive, we can make a big dent in energy consumption just by changing our habits. Among the energy savings the Post points out we could enjoy with small changes in human behavior:

  • Turning down the temperature settings of washing machines would reduce household energy use by about 1 percent.
  • Keeping household temperatures no higher than 68 during the day and 65 at night would cut back about 2.8 percent.
  • Plodding along the highway at 60 mph instead of 70 would slice another 2 percent from our energy usage.

Each change seems like small potatoes on its own, but aggregated over every U.S. household it would make a significant difference in the total amount of energy we burn, especially when used in combination with other efficiency measures.

In fact, a report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if every family upgraded its appliances to new, efficient models, household energy use would be reduced by 20 percent. Of course every family can’t afford to buy new equipment overnight, but over time when those old furnaces and refrigerators are finally replaced, the country should eventually start enjoying the emission reductions.

Lacking Motivation
While new appliances are too expensive for some people, it can be discouraging to hear that families frequently don’t make easy, free decisions to cut back on their energy use, even when it saves them money. “You can have two families, demographically similar, living side by side, in similar apartments, and there will be something like two to four times difference between one family and the other in their consumption,” Susan Mazur-Stommen, an anthropologist and independent consultant on energy efficiency, told the Post. “And that will be attributable to behavioral differences.”

Besides the prospect of saving money, people could be motivated to change their behavior in order to protect the environment, or to safeguard public health. Maybe real-time data about how much energy they are using in the house can help. Public outreach campaigns might be able to chip away at lackadaisical attitudes as well.

The point is, there’s a large gap between what we could be doing and what we are doing to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. On the plus side, that means that we don’t have to wait for miracle technology to save us — there are steps the country can take today to save energy. It’s all a matter of motivation.

Too Busy to Save Energy?

Looking for ways to save energy around the house is one of the most important things a homeowner can do. You save money on your utility bills — sometimes hundreds of dollars per year — and help the environment at the same time. Efficiency features can increase the value of your home and even improve your happiness in life. Yet plenty of people ignore measures they could be taking, even if they are free. Why?

Too Busy for Efficiency?
One answer may be that we have too many other distractions in our lives, according to a study run by a collaboration of the University of California Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study looks at participation in the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), in which the government provides an average of $5,000 in efficiency upgrades to low-income families. The program is free to participants, and slashes their utility bills, freeing up money they can spend on other things. There’s no apparent downside.

But in the study, only 2 percent of control group families bothered to apply to the program, and only 15 percent of households applied even after they were heavily encouraged by the researchers. The study’s conclusion: There are other non-monetary costs at play. To take advantage of WAP, families have to spend time filling out paperwork, communicating with contractors and dealing with construction on their home. That’s all while working, commuting, cooking and confronting other families issues.

Come Out Ahead
The same principle could apply to any homeowner considering efficiency measures, with or without government assistance. A family might understand the benefits of using solar panels, for example, but just not have the time or mental energy to deal with the task of researching them, contacting a vendor and going through with the installation.

In effect, the process is too daunting for some. Even with the promise of future savings, to act proactively can be too much effort. However, homeowners who do take the time to improve their efficiency are the ones who come out ahead in the end.

Find the Time for Upgrades
Don’t miss out on savings. If you have the motivation, consider some steps you can take to cut down on your energy and use some of the following tips.

One-time fixes to improve your efficiency:

  • Make sure your insulation is up to par and you seal any leaks or cracks to keep your heat and air conditioning inside.
  • Purchase Energy Star compliant appliances for maximum efficiency.
  • Install a smart thermostat to keep your heating bills down.
  • Upgrade your light bulbs to the latest, energy-saving versions.
  • Have solar panels installed on your roof to capture the energy of the sun.

Good recurring habits that will save you money:

  • Turn the lights out when you leave a room.
  • Unplug your electronics when they aren’t in use to avoid energy vampires.
  • Make sure you use the energy-saving settings on your appliances.
  • Schedule regular maintenance on your heating and cooling systems to keep them running at peak efficiency.

For a more comprehensive set of ideas, call a professional at Leitch Heating & Air Conditioning to give your home an energy audit and point out even more places you can upgrade your efficiency.

Contact us online or call us at 410-535-2234 to schedule maintenance of your heating and cooling system, and for more ways to conserve energy in your home.

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