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Conserving Energy

With all the heavy rainfall we’ve received recently, I noticed something peculiar. I realized my water and utility bills have been lower than usual. (Yay!) 

Here are a few reasons why:
  • I’m not watering my lawn nearly as frequently
  • I haven’t washed my car in a while because it’s absolutely pointless
  • Rain = cooler temperatures, so I’m not running my A/C all day long
As much as I enjoyed crazy floods every other week (NOT), I can’t say I’m sad to see my low water and electric bills go.. But just because the temperatures are rising again, doesn’t mean your expenses should rise too! Here are a few money-saving tips to get you through the rest of the summer:
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Avoid running the dishwasher or washing machine when it’s not full
  • When drying clothes, don’t overfill the dryer. If you have the option, set it to automatic. And remember to clean the lint filter between loads.
  • Set your thermostat at 78°F or higher (every degree of extra cooling will increase energy usage six to eight percent) 
  • Use fans to circulate the cool air
  • Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. Shade south and west windows with plants or trees to block the heat during the summer
  • Close interior blinds, drapes, or shades to block the sun and heat during warm weather. 
  • If you can, use a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer
  • Outside air conditioning units, or condensers, should be shaded. 
  • If no one will be home for more than a few hours, set your thermostat to 80 degrees or higher 
  • Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster
  • Save heat and humidity-generating activities (cooking, doing laundry or dishes) for early morning or evening hours

Lighting

  • Replace all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. 
  • Always turn lights off in rooms you are not using. 
  • Make sure bulbs do not exceed the recommended wattage indicated on the light socket. 
  • One larger wattage bulb is more efficient than two smaller wattage bulbs. 
  • Direct light, such as for reading, is more efficient than brightly lighting an entire room. 
  • Clean light bulbs regularly. 

Electric Water Heaters

  • Repair leaking faucets. Warm-water leaks should be given immediate attention because they can raise your electric consumption rapidly. 
  • Drain your hot water tank regularly to remove sediment. 
  • Consider a tankless water heater; they are 35-45 percent more efficient, pay for themselves in 3-5 years, and never run out of hot water. 
  • Wrap the hot water heater in an insulation blanket. 
  • Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater. For each 10 degrees of reduction, you can save 3-5 percent in energy costs. 120°F is suggested unless your dishwasher does not have its own water heater, in which case 130°F – 140°F is suggested for optimal cleaning. 

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) 

  • Clean or replace furnace filters once a month (or as needed) with a filter that has a MERV 11 rating or higher. 
  • Ensure that your HVAC system is properly sized for your home. 
  • At the beginning of cooler or warmer weather have a professional come out to inspect your HVAC system. 
  • Have your duct system checked for air leaks and proper insulation. 
  • Consider installing a “whole house fan” to improve circulation and ventilation throughout your home. 
  • Do not use humidifiers or evaporator (“swamp”) coolers with the air conditioner. 
  • Close vents in unused rooms. 

Appliances

  • Use the air-dry option on your dishwasher if available or open the door after the final rinse cycle to dry the dishes. 
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer full. They operate more efficiency when full. 
  • Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if you don’t really need it. Refrigerators are typically the second largest electricity users in a home. If your refrigerator is more than ten years old, consider replacing it. 
  • Always choose Energy Star-labeled appliances. 
  • Except for refrigerators and freezers that keep food cold, unplug all electronic devices, chargers, and appliances when they are not being used. They can still use a large amount of energy even when they are in the “Off” or “Power Save Mode”. Consider plugging these devices into power strips with an on-off switch. 
  • Ensure that the clothes dryer’s outside air vent is well-sealed. 
  • Keep the condenser coils on the back of your refrigerator and freezer clean. 
  • When considering the purchase of new appliances, consult Energy Star (www.energystar.gov) for information on which models they have approved to use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. 

Additional Tips

  • Don’t leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary; they replace inside air with outside air. 
  • Improve your roof by installing light-colored, durable materials and by adding insulation. 
  • Install weather stripping, and seal cracks around windows, exterior doors, and other openings. 
  • Programmable thermostats can save a household about $100 per year. 
https://www.puc.texas.gov/consumer/facts/Save.aspx

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