26 ways to control your electric bill

26 ways to control your electric bill

Cooling
* Install an add-on heat pump in your home to receive air-conditioned comfort in summer and low-cost heating in winter.
* Insulate your home to keep warm air out and keep cooler air in. Your attic should have R-30 insulation. Contact an insulation contractor for insulation standards for the rest of your home.
* Ventilate your attic to relieve heat buildup caused by the sun. Continuous ridge and soffit venting is better than gable vents alone.
* Improve airflow in the attic of your home by adding or enlarging vents, if necessary.
* Seek professional help in determining the size of cooling equipment you need. Avoid over-sized units. They draw more energy than necessary and cannot properly dehumidify, leaving you with a cold, clammy feeling.
* Select air conditioning equipment on the basis of its Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). You can calculate the EER for window units or central systems by dividing the cooling capacity, expressed in BTUH, by the electric power input, expressed in watts. Generally, an EER of 10 or more is excellent; 8 or 9 is good; 7 is just adequate. Avoid equipment with an EER below 7.
* Locate the compressor units of central air conditioning and heat pump systems in an outside area shaded by the house or by plantings. Keep your unit clean and free of any plant overgrowth or debris that might interfere with air circulation.
* Locate window air conditioners on the north side of your house. Direct sunlight on your unit makes it work harder.
* Set the cooling thermostat as high as comfort permits. The higher the setting, the more energy you save.
* Close air vents in the rooms you are cooling with a window unit so cool air can't escape.
* Close registers and turn off window air conditioners in unused rooms. Keep doors to unused rooms closed. Do not close registers if you have central air conditioning or a heat pump.
* Draw shades or draperies to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day.
* Install awnings over windows exposed to direct sunlight.
* Run kitchen and bath exhaust fans only long enough to rid the house of unwanted vapor, smoke, and odors during the summer. Running them too long allows cool air to escape.
* Position heat-producing appliances such as lamps and TV sets away from the cooling thermostat. Heat from equipment may cause the thermostat to read a temperature higher than the true room temperature. It could lead to overcooling the entire house.
* Check air conditioner filters at least once a month during the summer and clean or replace them as needed.
Lighting
* Check the wattages of the incandescent light bulbs in your house. In many cases, you can substitute lower wattage bulbs and get more light for the same amount of energy. Look for the lumens of a bulb instead of watts. Lumens indicate the brightness of the bulb. Watts only tell you the amount of power it takes to make the bulb work.
* Use long-life bulbs only when advantageous, such as in hard-to-reach places. They give less light than standard incandescent bulbs of the same wattage.
* Urge everyone to turn off lights when leaving a room. Having wall switches in convenient places helps everyone remember.
* Select lighting fixtures on the basis of their efficiency. Fluorescent lamps produce about four times as much light per watt as incandescent bulbs.
* Install fixtures on two or three separate circuits in large rooms where you may need high levels of lighting periodically but not all the time.
* Use three-way switches or dimmer control switches to keep lighting levels low whenever possible.
* Install photo-electric controls and timers to turn off outdoor lights during the day.
* Clean lighting fixtures regularly. Dust on lamps, reflectors and light bulbs impairs lighting efficiency.
* Locate floor, table, and wall lamps in the corner of a room rather than against a flat wall. Lamps in corners reflect light from two wall surfaces instead of one, and therefore, give you more light.
* Choose light colors for walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture. Light colors reflect light. Dark colors absorb light and require higher bulb wattages.