All I Want for Christmas is Energy Savings: Tips for Saving Money This Holiday Season

Between hosting guests, decorating the house, and trying to keep your home warm, the holiday season is a time of high energy usage. It is easy to forget about saving energy when you’re running errands, purchasing gifts, and preparing for all the festivities. However, there are many simple steps that you can take to save energy this holiday season and decrease your monthly bill.

Energy-Saving Tips for the Holidays

If you want to cut energy costs this holiday season, use these simple tips for increasing your energy efficiency:

  1. Invest in LED holiday lights.

Holiday lights can be a real energy-eater during the holiday season. One way to cut down on energy costs is by investing in LED holiday lights. Using LED lights instead of traditional lights will not only help you save energy, but also allow you to create a safer environment during the holidays. Whereas 90% of the energy used by traditional holiday lights is released as heat, LED lights are more efficient and long-lasting. They also do not give off heat, which reduces the heating risks.

  1. Cook and bake more efficiently.

Cooking is another aspect of the holiday season that can cause your electricity costs to skyrocket. With a little planning and attention, you can save energy while cooking and baking during the holidays. Avoid taking the lids off of pots or opening the oven to take a peek as this can increase cook time and release heat into the air, causing your HVAC system to work harder to keep your home comfortable. Also, try making several dishes at the same time. This allows you to make the most of your oven space and heat time.

  1. Purchase energy-efficient gifts.

Another way to cut down on energy usage is to make a pledge to buy gifts that don’t require electricity or batteries. Instead, use your time and skills to create thoughtful, do-it-yourself gifts for friends and family. If you are planning on purchasing electronics or other gifts that run on batteries or electricity, purchase more energy-efficient gifts. Consider Energy Star qualified electronics and appliances, and purchase rechargeable batteries for any gifts that may require them to function.

  1. Reduce the number of trips you take.

The holiday season is a busy time full of trips out of the house. Whether you are running quick errands, shopping for gifts, or picking up traveling guests, you will often find yourself running back and forth to various locations. One way to save fuel is by combining errands to reduce the number of trips you need to take. For instance, you might stop by the grocery store on your way home for work or take a trip to the mall for shopping before you pick your relatives or friends up from the airport.

Want more energy saving tips? Check out Ways to Increase Your Air Conditioner’s Efficiency or Energy Saving Tips for Winter for more ways to save energy throughout the year.

How to Positively Impact Our Planet: A Look at Your Carbon Footprint

It seems that individuals and companies across the nation are looking for ways to go green and make a positive impact on the planet. Though this may seem daunting at first, it doesn’t have to be. There are many simple and realistic ways that individuals and families can help reduce their carbon footprint while also saving money.

What Contributes to Your Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint depends a lot on your location. Texas has more carbon dioxide emissions than any other state in the country. However, the state is taking measures to improve this by using alternative energy sources and increasing energy efficiency. Individuals and households contribute to these emissions directly through energy usage, transportation, and waste produced. Purchasing decisions (local vs. long-distance) and diet preferences (meat vs. vegetables) can also have an indirect impact on your carbon footprint when factoring in fuel, land usage, and additional waste created.

Are you curious about your carbon footprint? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a free carbon footprint calculator that you can use to estimate your household’s carbon footprint. This calculator asks you questions about your home energy usage, transportation, and waste to determine how your household’s greenhouse emissions. Once you use the calculator to determine your footprint, you can then try implementing some of the tips below to reduce your carbon footprint.

Simple Ways to Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

Many people think that going green has to be difficult and expensive. The truth is that there are actually a variety of easy ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while also saving money. Here are just a few that you can try today:

  • Use a programmable thermostat. This helps you regulate your home’s temperature even when you are gone, helping you save energy when no one is home.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. When possible, avoid using hot water to wash your clothes to save energy.
  • Use the power management features on your computer. Adjust your computer’s power settings to use less energy. Many models allow you to use “power save mode.” When you are not using your computer, turn it off or set it to sleep mode.
  • Take shorter showers. Cutting your average shower down by just a few minutes can help you save gallons of water, not to mention spend less on utilities.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your vehicle. This ensures that it is running efficiently and getting the best gas mileage possible.
  • Reduce the miles you drive. Try to reduce the number of miles that you drive each day by carpooling, using ride share, or taking public transportation.
  • If you are not already, make sure that you are recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic, glass, newspapers, magazines, etc.

Reducing your carbon footprint not only helps you positively impact the planet, but it can ultimately save you and your family money. We’d love to help you reduce your carbon footprint by making sure that your HVAC system is running efficiently. Call us today for a tune-up.

Will I Save Money With a Programmable Thermostat?

Programmable thermostats have become a popular way for people to reduce their energy use and save money on their energy bills. With the arrival of smart thermostats, many people are now investing in these ultra-programmable devices in order to eke every last bit of efficiency out of their heating and cooling system.

At least, that’s the idea. But do programmable thermostats really live up to their billing and help people reduce their energy costs? It turns out, the answer is more complicated that most people realize.

Energy Savings—In Theory

Many consumers opt for programmable thermostats because they have seen through another common energy myth—that keeping your home at a steady temperature uses less energy than turning your system on and off. In fact, it uses quite a bit more energy to run your furnace or air conditioner all the time than to turn them off when you don’t need them.

This means programmable thermostats have a theoretical advantage, because you can set them to turn on and off at regular intervals. With manual thermostats, your system may end up running when you don’t need it if you forget to adjust the temperature or aren’t around to turn the system off. Programmable thermostats should allow you to avoid these situations and save energy.

Real Savings Are Often Minimal

Despite the advantage that programmable thermostats should have, real studies have found that these devices often save people much less money energy than advertised. Other studies have even found that programmable thermostats may translate to higher energy use rather than lower. What’s going on?

It turns out that people are the wild cards in the thermostat game. Many people don’t use their programmable thermostats they way they are meant to be used, and the results can be costly.

Some people, for example, use their programmable thermostats to run the air conditioner during the day and the heater at night. This means that the HVAC system not only runs all the time, but has to overcome a much greater temperature range than if the system were turned off and the house allowed to cool or warm naturally.

Other people take an excessively hands-off approach with their programmable thermostats. They may leave their system running normally even if they leave for vacation, or let the heat turn on early in the morning even when they sleep in on the weekends.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Programmable Thermostat

This doesn’t mean that programmable thermostats can’t save you money. Most studies have shown that these thermostats do bring energy savings, even if the average savings is lower than the commonly advertised figures. And if you use your programmable thermostat the right way, you can get energy savings that are well above average.

The most important step toward saving money with a programmable thermostat is programming at least eight hours of setback time. Studies have found that eight hours of setback equals about a one percent energy savings for every degree that you turn the thermostat down.

You can also save energy with your thermostat by programming different temperatures by season. By choosing a temperature on the higher end of comfortable in the summer, and the lower end of comfortable in the winter, you can rack up significant energy savings.

For more expert information on HVAC savings, please follow our blog!

Energy Efficiency Tips For Your HVAC System

Older air conditioning systems have a simple control mechanism for switching the device on and off. When turned on, these ACs will continue to cool the room until the desired temperature is attained, after which they switch off automatically. When room temperatures rise beyond the desired level, the AC is turned on once again, and the cycle continues. Consumers who want to cut down on their ever-rising energy bills can turn off the device manually in the morning when leaving the house. While this move may save them money, they will be returning home to a hot and uncomfortable environment. They will also be forced to stay in a hotter house for a couple of minutes or hours as they turn on the AC and wait for temperatures to go down.

A better approach would be to use a programmable thermostat, which can be programmed to increase the temperature setting to around 10 degrees over the desired temperature when you leave the house. You can also program the thermostat to readjust the temperature setting back to your desired temperature (78 degrees Fahrenheit) one hour before you return home. For the control system to work properly, you must specify the leave time and return time. Some fine-tuning will be needed to ensure your HVAC system operates as desired.

Other energy efficiency tips for HVAC systems include:

  • Regular Maintenance: Air conditioners, like other machines, need regular servicing. Lubrication, recharging the refrigerant and replacement of worn out parts are all important in improving the efficiency and performance of the system.
  • Replace or Clean Filters: Air filters often get clogged as debris get stuck on the filter when air is forced through the unit. Be sure to clean or replace the air filter in your AC every month.
  • Use Fans and Window Treatments for Air Conditioning: Fans help with movement of air to create draft, which in turn creates a cooling effect in a room. On the other hand, window treatments, such as curtains and drapes can help to keep sunlight, which carries a lot of heat energy, out of the room.

Hopefully, these energy efficiency tips will help you lower your energy bills and improve the performance of your system. Follow us for more articles that your HVAC systems running comfortable and efficiently.

Saving Money, Protecting The Environment With Your Air Conditioner

A vast majority of homes in the United States stay comfortably cool during the summertime months with because of air conditioning units, particularly central air conditioning systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department advises consumers that a variety of tactics should be employed to optimize comfort during the hotter months of the year, to save money and to lessen a negative impact on the environment.

Program Thermostat for Multiple Benefits

A key step a consumer should consider when it comes to an air conditioning system is taking advantage of the ability to program thermostat. Most never air conditioning systems include programmable technology.

By allowing the temperature in a residence to rise during time periods when unoccupied saves an average of up to 30 percent on a home energy bill, according to U.S. News and World Report. In addition, the reduction in energy usage when a residence is not occupied also lessens the carbon foot print left on the environment by an air conditioning system.

A person can program thermostat to allow for enhanced cooling at an appropriate point in time before residents return home, allowing them to be created with a comfortable environment even on the hottest days of the year.

Clean Filters Once a Month

Another fundamental step that needs to be taken to maximize the efficiency of a home air conditioning system is to maintain clean filters. As a general rule, air conditioning filters should be cleaned monthly. This can be accomplished by running hot water through the filters.

In addition to a monthly cleaning, air conditioning filters should be replaced at least once (if not twice) a year. A good time to replace filters is in the spring before a person starts regularly using an air conditioning system. Ideally a homeowner should consider changing out filters on a central air conditioner about midway through the season.

Some people balk at the mid-season suggestion to change rather then just clean filters, worried that it is an unnecessary expense. In fact, according to the Energy Department, a mid-season change of filters optimizes the overall effectiveness of an air conditioner, thereby improving performance, reducing operational costs and lessening the negative impact on the environment.

Service Your Unit Once Per Year

In addition to these self-help strategies to improve the effectiveness of a central air conditioning system, a very important strategy is to have a unit serviced annually. Calling upon an experienced heating and air conditioning professional to perform overall service and maintenance on an air conditioning system once a year ensures that a unit operates at peak performance. Moreover, annual servicing of a unit provides an opportunity for a professional to troubleshoot any potential problems with a system.

Although a consumer pays for this type of professional assistance, the Energy Department confirms that this type of annual servicing saves money over the long run by optimizing the performance of a unit.