Happy 4th of July!
Celebrate Your Personal Energy Independence
With 4th of July celebrations upon us–as well as the summer heat–no one wants their energy bills to rise with the temperature. Now is the time to think about how to manage your home energy use effectively, practically, AND economically. So, to coincide with our nation celebrating its independence, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program is bringing you cooling tips for every budget, as well as some tips for travel if you're getting away–small steps that can help make a big difference in saving energy, money, and fighting climate change.
Staying cool this summer doesn't have to mean cranking up the AC and spending a lot of money. A typical household spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. EPA's ENERGY STAR program has some low-to-no cost energy-saving tips to beat the heat and save money, too.
- Program your thermostat to work around your family's summer schedule–set it a few degrees higher when no one is home, so your cooling system isn’t cooling an empty house. With proper use, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 every year in energy costs.
- Check your HVAC system's air filter every month. If the filter looks dirty, change it, but change the filter at least every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool–wasting energy.
- Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze. If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room make sure to turn off the fan.
- Close the curtains and shades before you leave your home, to keep the sun's rays from overheating the interior of your home. If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed windows to act as shade.
- Remember to have your HVAC system serviced annually to ensure it's running at optimum efficiency for money and energy savings.
- Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices—ENERGY STAR qualified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too.
- Seal your ducts. As much as 20 percent of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. Seal duct work using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulate all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages).
- Make sure that connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet your floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.
- When buying a room AC unit, look for one that has earned EPA's ENERGY STAR. If every room air conditioner in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR qualified, they would prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually–equivalent to the emissions from 80,000 cars.
- Add insulation to your attic to keep cool air in–if every American household did so, we'd collectively save more than $1.8 billion in yearly energy costs.
- Hire a contractor to seal and insulate the interior ductwork in your home (the ducts you can't reach yourself). For help on choosing the right contractor, go to www.energystar.gov/homeimprovement.
- If your central AC unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with a model that has earned EPA's ENERGY STAR could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent.
For more information about keeping cool and comfortable while saving money this season, visit www.energystar.gov.
As you get ready to travel–even if it's a short trip, like 4th of July weekend–don't forget to take these few easy steps at home before you leave:
- Turn up your thermostat to 85 degrees (unless you're leaving pets at home, of course). Experts agree that the energy saved from turning your thermostat up in the summer while you're away is greater than the energy used to cool your house back down after you return.
- Close window blinds and shades to block out the sun's heat. It's amazing how much indoor heat simply comes from the heat of the sun though the windows. Most ENERGY STAR qualified windows reduce the "heat gain" into your home more than typical windows do, without reducing the visible light. You get the light you need without the uncomfortable heat.
- Avoid wasting energy on unused electronics while you're away by unplugging them–including hand-held electronics that might be charging, such as phones, MP3 players, chargers, and even laptops.
- Aside from those one or two lights that you may want to leave on for safety, make sure everything else is turned off–all lights, ceiling fans, the alarm on your radio, and other small appliances.
- And perhaps the best thing you can do to save energy this summer is to choose hotels that have earned EPA's ENERGY STAR label. These hotels listed use at least 35 percent less energy and emit at least 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than other hotels–making a stay with them a carbon-saving experience. For more tips on bringing your green on the road, visit EPA's press release.
Take the ENERGY STAR Pledge to save energy, money, and help fight climate change. Even by celebrating your personal energy independence, you'll be joining others in making a difference together.