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June 14th, 2021

showerWith summer here, more resources will be used by people, causing a particular rise in energy and water bills. With that in mind, there are some conservation techniques people can use to minimize that. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Warmer temperatures are moving through the area, which means many people will be using more of their air conditioning units throughout the day. 

That extra use, however, can mean an increase in the household energy bill, and with that in mind, there are a few conservation methods to keep in mind throughout the summer. 

“A good thing to do is use your windows to keep out heat and install window coverings to prevent heat gain through your windows during the day,” energy.gov noted. “It’s also important to operate your thermostat efficiently. Set your thermostat at a temperature you find comfortable and that provides humidity control, if needed. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Keep your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lower the thermostat setting when you return home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat allows you to do this automatically and without sacrificing comfort. Avoid setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you first turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.”

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“According to the Department of Energy,  setting your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer can save you up to 10 percent in energy costs each year. If 78 degrees is too warm for you, you can adjust it a bit lower to be comfortable. Just remember that for every degree you raise your thermostat above 72 degrees, you save up to 3 percent of your cooling expenses,” trane.com noted. “Consider getting a programmable thermostat, so you can program a warmer setting when you’re not home and automatically start cooling your home right before you get back. If you’re into technology, try a wireless remote thermostat, like the ComfortLink™ II, that can be paired with the Nexia™ system and your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer to control your air conditioner from wherever you are.”

Trane also recommended upgrades to the household HVAC system. 

“If you’re ready to take your summer energy savings to the next level, go for a system upgrade. Heating and cooling uses nearly half of the energy in your home, so investing in an energy efficient system is a smart move that will save you money in the long run,” Trane noted. “When you’re upgrading your air conditioner, look for Energy Star certified systems that have a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings. They’ll be 15 percent more efficient than other models. While you’re going green, think about upgrading your entire home with Energy Star appliances. At the very least, schedule seasonal maintenance for your air conditioner and other systems, so they’re working their best.”

Also recommended from energy.gov and Trane was the use of fans and ventilation strategies to cool the home. 

“Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect,” energy.gov noted. “When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove heat and humidity from your home. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside, not just to the attic.”

“Buying stand, box or ceiling fans is a small investment that can reduce your energy costs,” Trane noted. “Using fans to help cool your home means you can raise the thermostat setting by 4 degrees without reducing your comfort level. Just remember to turn off the fans when you’re not in the room. They aren’t intended to cool the space, just the people in the space, via the wind chill effect.”

Also important to conserve in the summer is water, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Especially with dry conditions in the area the past few years, water conservation is especially important.

“Water your yard in the morning or evening. Water evaporates quickly when the sun is high, so sprinkle when it’s more likely to stay in the soil. And make sure you’re watering your yard, not the sidewalk or driveway. A drip irrigation system works better than sprinklers, as it sends targeted amounts of water exactly where you want it,” the NRDC noted. “Also check for leaks with the toilet test. Put a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet into your toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl, your tank is leaking, silently wasting up to 100 gallons of water a day. An inexpensive rubber flapper may be all you need to fix it; just be sure the replacement flapper is made to fit your toilet’s make and model. Trimming just two minutes off your shower can save up to 1,750 gallons of water per person in your household each year. Another easy trick is to turn the water off while you soap and/or shave. You can also capture the water that’s normally wasted while you wait for the shower to warm up by collecting it in a bucket – use it for watering plants. If you plan to re-use soapy water in your garden, make sure your soap is safe for plants. And cover the pool – if you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard pool, make sure the water stays in it instead of evaporating. Cover your pool when you’re not using it, even in the summer.”

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