08/25/2011

Top-Five Energy-Efficiency Myths

As consumers stay focused on keeping cool during the hottest months of the
year, they may fall victim to some of the myths that may be giving electricity
customers the wrong idea about how to curb their electricity consumption and
save money on their monthly bills.

1. MYTH: Never turn your A/C completely off during hot summer months because
furniture and other items in your home heat up when the A/C is shut off,
creating more work for the system to cool the home back down.

FACT: Your system doesn't work any harder when it switches back on after being
turned off. It just may take it longer than a short cycle to cool your rooms
back down. If no one is in your home for more than eight hours, you can save
money by switching it off while you're out. Since, approximately half of your
energy usage goes to heating and cooling your home, cutting back on how much
your system cycles can save you money in hot summer months. Depending on the
outdoor temperature, it may take your system an hour or two to cool your home
back down to a comfortable temperature, so be sure to plan accordingly - or use
a digital thermostat to turn your system back on a few hours before you'll be
back home. According to EnergyStar.gov, using a programmable thermostat can
save the average household about $180 every year in energy costs.

2. MYTH: Keeping ceiling fans turned on all the time keeps cool air circulating
through your home, reducing the need for the A/C to power on as much.

FACT: Ceiling fans only make you feel cooler when you are in the room with
them. So, you only need to have ceiling fans turned on when you're in the room
(blades pointed down in summer/up in winter). While many people may think that
it's better to keep cool air circulating all the time - to make your cool air
go "farther," leaving a fan "always on" doesn't present any energy efficiency
gains. In fact, keeping the fans on will actually cost you money.

3. MYTH: If you have a lot of glare and heat radiating on or through your
windows in the summertime, you need to replace them.

FACT: Many times, you can reduce solar heat gain in hot summer months by
treating your windows. For these glassy areas of your home, you can reduce
solar heat gain with awnings or trees shading them from the outside of your
home, and you can also use drapes, blinds, or solar film to shade them from the
inside. Because the hot summer sun's radiant heat on windows can increase the
temperatures inside your home, treating them for shade can help you save
electricity since your A/C won't need to perform more frequent cycles to keep
your rooms cool due to the added heat.

Tips for Using Energy Efficiently in Your Home During the Summer:

1. Setting your thermostat just a few degrees warmer at night can make a real
difference to your electricity consumption - and your monthly bill during the
summer months. According to the Department of Energy, you can save up to 10
percent on your heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back 10 to
15 percent for eight hours a day. What's more, there are several programmable
thermostats that make this an easy and automated task, including one that you
can adjust by phone.

2. Be sure that your fireplace damper is shut and sealed in the summer months
to avoid losing cool air through the chimney. According to the Department of
Energy, 14 percent of air leaks at home come through your fireplace. So be sure
that your damper is shut and completely sealed. You don't want all your cool
air flying up the chimney this summer.

3. Replace your A/C filters regularly. U.S. Department of Energy estimates that
this can generate a 5 to 15 percent energy savings, not to mention improving
the quality of the air you're breathing at home.

4. Pay attention to your outdoor A/C unit, too. You can use a garden hose to
wash the coils on your unit, and be sure that nothing is blocking its air
follow, like bushes or shrubs. One government study calculated a 2 to 4 percent
capacity improvement just for cleaning the coils. As much as we rely on this
device to keep us cool all summer long, a capacity improvement of even a few
percent per home can make a big difference if you think about the big picture.
When you think about the amount of electricity usage that goes towards air
conditioning in Texas, we are talking about a significant amount of energy that
can be saved in a year.

5. Pamper the lint trap on your (electric) dryer. While it doesn't necessarily
cool you down in summer, keeping your dryer working efficiently can still save
you electricity and money any time of year. According to Energy Star, cleaning
the lint trap before each dryer load can save the average household about $34
per year. It also enhances the energy efficiency of the appliance. You can also
boost this by vacuuming out your dryer vent hose during your spring cleaning
for the year.

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Environmental Protection