Save on Cooling, Stay Cool

Save on Cooling, Stay Cool

As the summer months roll on through, we are faced with the dilemma of creating the perfect indoor environment. In some regions the sun blazes hot, while other areas of the country enjoy more temperate summer days and nights. Whatever the case, our cooling habits always change this time of year, and it’s important to consider the usage, impact and alternatives to summer cooling.

Did you know that according to EnergyStar, if just one in ten households used EnergyStar Certified cooling and heating equipment, we could prevent the equivalent of 1.1 million cars’ emissions? That’s a big difference. But if you’re not ready or willing to replace your cooling system just yet, here are some other ways to lighten your impact during the summer heat.

1. Replace the air filter. Forced-air heating and cooling systems really require you to swap the air filter every 3 months. Remember, if you’re working on a project at home, or doing some remodeling, it may need replacing more frequently until the dust settles. A dirty air filter can decrease the efficiency of your cooling system by two percent. That’s energy use you’re paying for without getting the benefit of the most efficient cooling to your home.

2. Install a programmable thermostat. This corner of the market is evolving very quickly. Keep an eye out for the system that’s right for your household. If you’re not one to take the time to set a program, consider a learning thermostat that uses smart technology to sense movement so the energy savings are abundant while you’re out of the house or resting. Another tip – setting the thermostat between 4 and 7 degrees higher at night can save you about $180 annually.

3. “Summerize” your home. We frequently talk about winterizing our homes by sealing cracks and air leaks. We check insulation before the winter months to make sure we’ll stay warm enough, but consider the opposite is also true. A tighter home not only keeps the cold winter air out, but also keeps the cool, conditioned air in! Grab a caulk gun and do a few simple tests to seal and sure up leaks around windows and door. According to the Energy Star site, sealing leaks in air ducts can improve your cooling system by 20 percent!

 

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Passive Solar Windows for Different Climates

Passive Solar Windows for Different Climates

Passive solar windows are a one-time investment that can help you save energy over a long period of time. During summer, it can help keep the heat out and the cool in. During winter, it can help keep the heat in and maximize the heating rays of the sun.

Different climates means that people need to position and install their windows differently to take advantage of solar windows’ various properties.

Passive Solar Windows for Hot and Sunny Climates

In hot and sunny climates, glazed windows should be installed towards the south of the house.

This allows the windows to collect heat when the sun is low in the sky during the day. That means the heat won’t overheat by allowing the sun’s rays into the house during peak hours.

You can also use a number of shielding devices such as awnings or overhangs to prevent overheating during summer.

Other windows in the house can still be installed, but they should have a shade or glaze installed so they let less light into the house. Having north facing windows in a hot and sunny climate can lead to overheating.

Passive Solar Windows for Cool Climates

There are two main strategies for heating up a home with passive solar windows in cold climates: trombe walls and using a greenhouse methodology.

A trombe wall is a big wall, usually painted black, which allows you to absorb heat into the house without heat leaking out.

The main concern with using a big window is that while the sun’s rays can come into the home and heat up the air, the glass conducts heat so well that it can all escape back through the glass.

The trombe wall solves this issue by trapping the heated air between the glass and the trombe wall, then circulating it into the house before the heat has a chance to escape through the glass.

The greenhouse approach uses similar technology to a greenhouse to keep heated air in the house. You use a large number of windows to let the sun’s rays into your house, then you use a controlled timer to circulate the air within your house in a way that optimizes the heat and reduces the amount of heat that escapes through the same glass windows that let the heat in.

Are Passive Solar Windows for You?

Passive solar windows can work for both hot and cold climates, whether there’s a lot of sun or just a little bit of sun.

To determine whether or not your home qualifies for passive solar windows, talk to an environmental contractor in your area. Make sure you get several different opinions to get a definitive sense of whether or not it’s worth the investment.

 

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Choosing and Installing Energy-Efficient Doors

Choosing and Installing Energy-Efficient Doors

Selecting and installing an energy efficient door can help you reduce your electric bill, as well as keep your rooms at a more comfortable temperature without having to turn on the AC or the heater.

Some door improvements cost a lot of money. For example, if you decided to completely replace your door, that’s going to be a heavy investment. Other improvements, such as weatherstripping, are easy and inexpensive.

Here’s what you need to know about installing energy-efficient doors.

What Kind of Door Should You Choose?

There are primarily three types of doors you can choose from: wood, steel and fiberglass.

However, if you want to conserve the maximum amount of energy possible, the best kind of door you can choose is a steel door that’s wrapped in wood.

This kind of door will give you the great look that a wooden door does, while giving you maximum insulating power.

Weatherstripping: Even More Important Than the Door

Even more important than the door are the areas around the door.

Most heat in the door area doesn’t escape from passing through the door. Instead, it escapes through the gaps under the door or the seams on the side of the door.

As a rule of thumb, if you can slide a piece of paper anywhere from inside the house to the outside of the house with the door closed, you have a serious air and energy leak.

Weatherstripping is the process of sealing up these gaps to make sure no heat or coolness escapes to the outside. You do this by sealing the bottom of the door and the seams along the door.

Weatherstripping costs much, much less than buying a new door and can have a much bigger effect. You can even do it yourself by going down to Home Depot and buying the weatherstripping supplies you need.

Understanding R Value

One final thing to understand about door energy conservation is “R Value.”

Your R Value is how heat resistant the glass on your door is. If you have a door panel, glass doors or even just decorative glass on your door, a lot of heat can escape through that glass.

The higher the R Value, the less heat escapes. When you’re buying your door, make sure you take your R value into account.

If everything else in your house is designed to conserve heat but your door has a low R value, you might want to consider getting the glass replaced.

Choosing, installing and leak-proofing your door can take several weeks. Remember that all the effort you put into it will pay off in energy saving in the future. You’ll also be helping reduce your environmental footprint by using less energy.

 

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