The urgency of climate change is being deeply felt with extreme climates, vanishing ice-belts, longer wildfire seasons and growing financial compensations, with shooting health and utility bills. The policies of our governments and corporates earnestly try to accommodate and cater to the urgency.
There are many ways to become energy efficient and reduce your household’s or building’s energy consumption. Two obvious motives for conserving energy are saving on the utility bills as well as protecting the environment.
Following are 5 steps to guide you towards reducing energy consumption and partaking in the cause of climate change and sustainability for the better.
1) Adjusting day to day behavior
You need not necessarily look for external interventions, behavior change goes a long way! Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off the appliances when not being used. You could also opt for going easy on the ‘energy intensive appliances’. Perhaps, hand-dry the clothes, and hand wash the utensils on good days.
There are tools that help you gauge where the energy gets most spent.
2) Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
Appliances are responsible for sizeable energy consumption (13-30%). Customers while purchasing must pay heed to two things – the initial price and the annual operating cost. Even though the energy efficient appliances might cost you more on the purchase, they most definitely provide financial respite in the longer run for their operating costs are often 10-25% lesser. It is safe to look at energy efficient appliances as a smart investment with higher returns.
While picking out the energy efficient appliances, you should further opt for ENERGY STAR label, a federal guarantee on lesser consumption during and on stand-by as against the conventional models.
3) Install Efficient Windows
Windows can be a pivotal source of energy wastage by adding up to 10-20% of your heating bill. You can replace single pane windows with double- pane products to prevent heat loss.
This of course is location sensitive. In colder areas, gas filled windows with ‘low-e’ coatings will substantially decrease the heating expenses. If your region experiences storms frequently, interior and/or exterior storm windows will help reduce unnecessary heat loss by 10-20%.
In warmer climates, heat-trapping through the windows is an expected problem. Low-e coatings on windows can reduce the heat gain by reflecting more and absorbing less. ENERGY STAR windows help you save up to $20-$95 each year on your utility bills. Furthermore, window shades, shutters, screens, etc. can provide an extra layer of coating to aid energy conservation even more.
4) Upgrade your HVAC
Heating, Ventilating and Air-conditioning (HVAC) is alone responsible for more than 40% of energy consumption. ENERGY STAR has different gas furnace models for northern and southern markets of the United States as the northern regions experience colder temperatures. The labeled products help save up to 16% energy which translates to a weekly saving yearly saving of at least $100.
Air-conditioning, comparatively speaking does not contribute much to the bills, taking up around 6% energy. ENERGY STAR central air-conditioning units provide 8% more efficiency.
The air-conditioning systems are usually integrated with the heating systems implying that it’s ideal to purchase both – heating and cooling devices at the same time to maximize efficiency.
Ventilation upgrades shouldn’t be neglected. It’s responsible for the distribution & circulation of hot and cold air throughout the building. In cases of improper sealing and insulation, the energy wastage drastically shoots up the bills. Proper insulation and maintenance of ventilation networks can reduce your heating and cooling expenses by a staggering 20%.
5) Weatherize your building
Sealing the air leaks (vents, windows, doors) around your building is a good way to reduce the heating and cooling expenses. Ensuring no cracks or openings between the wall, vents, windows and doors is important.
Applying caulk to the air leakage between stationary objects is a basic remedy. For moving objects, such as operable windows and doors, weather stripping can be applied. These are simple and effective remedies which ideally promise a return on investment within a year.
To optimize benefits on weatherizing building, you also must look into insulating it.
From significantly saving on the utility bills, earning a greater return on investments, increasing property value, cutting costs to taking affirmative action and protecting the environment, thereby increasing our quality of life – reducing your energy consumption has endless benefits regardless of whether your motivations are economic, environmental or personal. It’s a synergized solution that bears many fruits.
Infographic provided by Blue Dot Services, an air conditioning repair and maintenance company