Saving money on utility bills through greater energy efficiency is a year-round objective for many co-op members, but the methods for achieving this goal change with the seasons in Texas.
Several factors affect energy efficiency, including weather, the age and condition of your home, and desired comfort levels. During fall and winter months, when it’s cooler outdoors, you’ll want a warm home as you seek to keep the cold air out. In the spring and summer, the focus is on keeping hot air from infiltrating cool abodes.
Fall and Winter: Keeping Heat In
To maintain a warm indoor environment in chilly weather, there are simple steps you can take to increase energy efficiency.
There’s no better time to examine seals on doors and windows for air leaks. Caulk and weatherstrip as needed to seal in warm air and energy savings. Similarly, examine electrical outlets for air leaks, and where necessary, install foam gaskets behind them to prevent drafts.
During the day, open curtains or drapes on south-facing windows to let sunlight heat your home naturally. Close window treatments at night for an added layer of insulation.
As the temperature drops, schedule a service appointment for your heating system to ensure that it is operating at an optimal level.
Low-cost or no-cost steps for energy savings include affixing heavy, clear plastic to the insides of your windowpanes to create an additional barrier against cold air. Ensure that the plastic is sealed tightly to the pane to help reduce infiltration.
Use a programmable thermostat to set the temperature as low as is comfortable when you are home (ideally around 68 degrees). When you are asleep or away, turn the temperature down. A downward adjustment of 10–15 degrees over long stretches of time can save about 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs, according to the Department of Energy.
Spring and Summer: Keeping Your Cool
During warm months, energy savings and efficiency will require different measures, many of which are just as inexpensive.
Close blinds and drapes during the day to keep the sun’s warming rays at bay. Where practical, plant trees and shrubs that offer shade in summer and allow sunlight through in winter.
In extremely hot weather, your cooling system works harder to close the gap between the high outdoor temperature and the cool indoor thermostat setting. To lessen the difference and lower cooling costs, set the thermostat as high as you can while maintaining your comfort level.
Using a ceiling fan in conjunction with your air conditioning can allow you to increase the thermostat setting by about 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort. Just make sure to turn ceiling fans off when no one is in the room.
Use a programmable thermostat to adjust the settings a few degrees higher when nobody is home or your family is sleeping.
During the hottest months, it’s all the more critical to replace any remaining incandescent lightbulbs with light-emitting diode bulbs. The unwanted heat from the old bulbs affects energy use.
To learn more about additional energy-saving tips and programs, contact your electric cooperative.