5 Ways to Save Green with Lower Energy Costs on St. Patrick’s Day, and Beyond
First of all, happy St. Patrick’s Day to you. Hope that you are having a great day, and that if you are partaking in some green adult beverages, I hope you do so responsibly. The following is a list of 5 ways that you can lower your energy costs, thus saving you some of your favorite green item, MONEY! These energy saving tips are not the only ways to save energy of course, but I just wanted to list 5 relatively simple, and low cost ways that you can lower your heating and cooling costs.
1) One of the most simple ways to lower your energy costs is to make sure that your furnace filters are clean. Some furnace filters are washable, and some are replaceable. If you have a replaceable style filter, we recommend that you replace it with a good pleated filter. There are a lot of products out there that claim to be high efficiency, electrostatic filters, but they end up doing more harm by slowing down airflow, than they do good. Your furnace filters are more than likely either located right at your furnace (above or below), or they could be located in your cold air return vents in the house.
2) Another low cost, energy saving tip would be to have regular maintenance performed on your heating & cooling system. As part of maintenance your furnace filters would be replaced, but a good maintenance should also include a thorough cleaning of both your indoor unit (furnace & coil), and your outdoor unit (air conditioner or heat pump). The cleaning should include, but is not limited to the burners and blower wheel on a gas furnace, and the indoor and outdoor coils on an air conditioner or heat pump. Your heating and cooling system generally is the highest energy user in your home, so by making sure it is running efficiently, it can help lower your energy costs.
3) Program your thermostat if you have gas or oil heat. A simple program to set back the temperature when you are away, or sleeping, can save you money. I limit this to gas furnaces or oil heat, because these furnaces recover from a setback quicker than a heat pump system, and therefore it makes sense to use a setback with them. A heat pump system has to work too hard to recover from a setback most of the time, and can actually consume more energy by trying to recover, than if you had just left it running. There are some great options available for programmable, and even smart connected thermostats that know when you’re away via motion sensors, and can learn your programming habits.
4) Adding to the insulation in your attic can be a great energy saver. I personally had this done recently, and it has made a big difference in the operating hours of my heating system. Insulation will settle over time, and if your house was built prior to the 90’s, the energy codes were a bit more relaxed to begin with. Adding attic insulation is a relatively low cost way that you can make a big dent in your heating and cooling costs.
5) Having your ductwork sealed and insulated can also be a big help. Most duct systems in Oregon are located in a crawl space or an attic, where they are exposed to harsh environments. Again, if your house is a little older the insulation may be very poor, or non-existent. Most ductwork is also very leaky, so a lot of the heating and cooling that your system produces is being lost to the elements. Ductwork can be sealed using mastic paste, which once it dries, forms a hard, almost rubber texture. This holds up much better than duct tape. Imagine that, duct tape is good for almost anything, except sealing ductwork. As for duct insulation, we recommend using insulation with an exterior barrier (vinyl or foilback). This will help to keep rodents out, and holds up better over time than open faced insulation.
Hopefully you find at least one of these tips helpful, and you can continue saving the green beyond St. Patrick’s Day.