Energy Tips and Tools
Insulating Your Home
Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost efficient ways to reduce energy waste and maximize your energy dollars. A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that provide a home with thermal performance, protect it against infiltration, and controls moisture.
First, check the insulation in your ceiling, walls and floor to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area. Insulation is measured in R-values, the higher the R-value, the better your ceiling, walls and floor will resist the transfer of heat.
Area Minimum Recommended:
- Ceiling: R-19 R-38
- Wall: R-11 R-18
- Floor: R-11 R-19
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in your home. Typically, 44% of your utility bill goes for heating and cooling. No matter what kind of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system you have in your house, you can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment.
If you use electricity to heat your home, consider installing an energy-efficient heat pump system. Heat pumps are the most efficient form of electric heating in moderate climates, like South Carolina's, providing three times more heating than the equivalent amount of energy they consume in electricity. There are three types of heat pumps: air-to-air, water source, and ground source. They collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside your home and concentrate it for use inside. Heat pumps do double duty as a central air conditioner. They can also cool your home by collecting the heat inside your house and effectively pumping it outside. A heat pump can trim the amount of electricity you use for heating as much as 30% to 40%.
Heat Pump Tips:
- Do not set back the heat pump's thermostat manually if it causes the electric resistance heating to come on. This type of heating, which is often used as a backup to the heat pump, is more expensive.
- Clean or change filters once a month or as needed, and maintain the system according to manufacturer's instructions.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to keep your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bills. In addition to adding aesthetic value and environmental quality to your home, a well placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce overall energy bills.
- Trees that loose their leaves in the fall ( i.e., deciduous) are the most effective at reducing heating and cooling energy costs. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house.
- Vines provide shading and cooling. Grown on trellises, vines can shade windows or the whole side of a house.
- Deflect winter winds by planting evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house.
- When you leave a room, for no matter how short a time, it's always better to turn off the lights.
- Use only the amount of light you need - solid-state dimmers and 3-way bulbs let you choose.
- For maximum lighting efficiency use higher lumens-per-watt bulbs. Watts measure the amount of energy going into a bulb. Lumens measure the light output or brightness of a bulb. This information is printed on bulb packages. To determine efficiency, divide the lumens by the watts of electricity used. For example a 100-watt bulb measuring 1710 lumens would be: Efficiency = 1710 lumens, 100 watts or 17.1 lumens-per-watt.
- Fluorescent lighting delivers three to four times the light of incandescent bulbs of the same wattage, and last up to 10 times longer. Long-life bulbs are less efficient, so use them only in hard-to-reach places where it's difficult to change bulbs. Where regular incandescent bulbs regularly burn out prematurely, try replacing them with 130-volt incandescent or halogen bulbs.
- When lighting for safety or security, use lower-wattage bulbs where practical. For reading, sewing and other close work, use higher-wattage bulbs. Keep light bulbs, reflectors, shields and lampshades clean. Dust and dirt absorb light, lowering lighting levels as much as 50 percent.
For More Information
For more information on lighting and other energy efficient methods, contact us.
Your Touchstone Energy Cooperative has compiled this list of low cost / no-cost energy-saving measures to help you better manage your home's energy costs.
Thanks to Touchstone Energy for supplying all of their cooperatives with The Home Energy Saver™ calculator.
The Home Energy Saver™ calculator
This tool is designed to help members identify the best ways to save energy in their homes, and find the resources to make the savings happen. The Home Energy Saver™ calculator was the first Internet-based tool for calculating energy use in residential buildings. The project has been sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as part of the national ENERGY STAR Program for improving energy efficiency in homes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's PATH program, the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, and Touchstone Electric Cooperatives.