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Duke Energy’s tips for saving energy this summer

The typical American family spends at least $2,200 on home utility bills each year, according to Duke Energy, and a lot of that cost comes from unnecessary power use.

Although few of us would choose to live without comforts such as air conditioning, heating and electric light, most of us leave these things on at times we don’t need them, like when we’re out of the house.

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Top Ten Energy Saving Guarantees

Would you like to be green, save energy and be more environmentally friendly, but you’re not sure about what really works? If you would really like to find out which energy saving tips and ideas for going green work, then take a look at these top ten suggestions for saving energy that are guaranteed to work.

1. HOME LIGHTING

To get the most from your lighting:

a. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFL’s ( Compact Fluorescent Lights )

b. Reduce outdoor lighting loads by using solar powered path lighting and super bright solar lamps.

c. Install solar skylights to allow natural light into normally darkened areas of the home.

Changing your lighting to use CFL’s and allowing more natural light to enter the home is guaranteed to save energy.

2. DOORS AND WINDOWS

You can improve the efficiency of the doors and windows in your home or apartment whether you own or rent:

a. For drafts blowing under an exterior door: – on modern doors, adjust the threshold to reduce the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold. – on older doors, install weather stripping that seals the crack at the bottom of the door when the door is shut.

b. Install weather stripping around the sides and top of all exterior doors.

c. To improve the efficiency of windows:

1. Install any available storm windows. – If storm windows are not available, but removable screens are installed, remove the screens and then wrap them with plastic and replace the screens.

2. Caulk all exterior cracks around the window frame and home siding.

3. Install heat shrinkable plastic on the inside of the window.

By sealing your doors and windows better, you are guaranteed to save energy.

3. ELECTRIC CLOTHES DRYERS

The clothes dryer is a primary sources of wasted energy. Reduce dryer energy use by:

a. Install a dryer vent seal. This eliminates any back drafts from entering the home when the dryer is not in use and could reduce your homes heating and cooling costs by up to 10%.

b. Don’t run the dryer on frigid winter nights or on hot summer afternoons because whenever you run the dryer and exhaust the air outdoors, the same amount of air is being sucked into your home.

By installing the dryer vent seal and by not running the dryer when outdoor temperatures are at extreme levels, your energy savings are guaranteed.

4. BATHROOM EXHAUST FANS

Exhaust fans are very helpful in removing moisture and foul odors from your home, but they are also a primary source of energy waste. To improve their performance:

a. Install a 30 minute timer for every exhaust fan to keep it from running too long.

Exhaust fans pull unconditioned outside air into your home while also exhausting out air you paid to heat or cool. This process is wasteful and unecessary. By performing these simple steps, you are guaranteed to save energy.

5. COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERAL DEVICES

Your computer, printer, sound system, backup drives, etc, use your homes energy 24 hours a day, forever. To resolve these issues or to at least reduce their impact:

a. Install an energy saving smart strip for your computer and supporting devices. The smart strip device senses when you have shut down your computer and then shuts down all your other peripheral devices automatically.

b. Work on improving your habit to turn your computer off more often.

The simple habit of turning off the computer more often while also using a smart strip, will reduce yearly energy costs by at least $25.00 and you are guaranteed to save energy.

6. REFRIGERATORS AND FREEZERS

Your refrigerator and freezer runs twenty-four hours a day, forever, so even a little improvement makes a difference. The energy saving fix for these items is two-fold:

a. Clean out all the dust and dirt from the refrigerator coils.

b. Keep the refrigerator and freezer as full as possible. Using a combination of zip-lock bags or Tupperware bowls, store extra ice, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, etc, so there is less empty air space.

By following these suggestions, the unit will run even less, emit less heat into your kitchen and even lower your air conditioning load on the house. The energy savings are guaranteed.

7. HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS

To reduce the amount of energy being wasted by your heating and cooling systems:

a. Seal the Leaks

– 1. Forced Air Systems – while the system is running, follow the main duct line and use either the back of your hand or a smoke stick to locate areas where air is escaping from the duct system and seal those leaks with foil duct tape.

– 2. Hot Water or Steam Systems – Insulate the pipes with foam insulation, being especially diligent where piping crosses near basement window and door areas.

b. Perform yearly cleanings.

– 1. It is vital that your oil or coal boiler be cleaned yearly and the chimney cleaned every other year. By removing the soot from the boiler, you improve the boilers capacity to absorb the heat and by keeping the chimney clean, you allow the fuel to burn hotter and cleaner.

– 2. Air conditioning systems, as well as air source heat pumps require yearly maintenance. Coils need to be cleaned, refrigerant charges need to be adjusted and routine maintenance needs to be performed.

Being diligent about performing preventive maintenance on your heating and air conditioning systems will not only lengthen the systems life time, but your energy savings will be guaranteed.

8. WATER

All the energy saving benefits of reducing water usage are even greater for those who have wells and use a pump to extract their water in the first place.

a. Replace your shower head with an energy saving shower head that uses less than the standard 2. 5 to 3. 5 gallons of water per minute. Many models are available that use 1. 5 to 1. 75 gallons per minute . By reducing the amount of water used while showing, the energy you use to heat your water can be dramatically reduced.

b. Locate the sink closest to your water heating source and use that sink whenever you need to wash your hands. This will leave less heated water standing in the pipes.

By becoming more aware of how you may have been wasting your heated water, you can easily change a few habits that are guaranteed to help you save energy.

9. CEILING FANS

Fans can be defined as devices that help move air from one place to another. This works for both cool or hot air.

a. During the winter, set your fan reversing switch in the upwards position and keep the speed setting on low to gently push any heated air off the ceiling and force it back down along the walls to the floor where you want it. You wont feel any breeze or draft during this process.

b. During the summer, set your fan reversing switch in the downwards position and use the low or medium speed setting to keep the room from becoming stagnant and prevent hot air from building up near the ceiling. Meanwhile, you will feel this breeze and you will feel cooler as the wind from the fan helps your perspiration evaporate from your skin.

When we take advantage of using ceiling fans to better distribute our heated or cooled air, our overall comfort level increases while the amount of energy we use decreases. This more comfortable situation is guaranteed to save energy.

10. CLOTHING AND ATTIRE

By learning how to better dress ourselves, we could learn to live more comfortably in our homes while using less energy to condition the air within our homes.

a. During colder weather conditions, be sure to wear socks, full length pants and long sleeve shirts in your home. By protecting your exposed skin from drafts, you’ll still feel comfortable at lower temperatures. Then, by lowering your thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees, you can save from 10% to 20% more energy.

b. During the summer, dress lighter and remove your socks if possible. Doing so will allow you to maintain a warmer temperature in the home and reduce your air conditioning costs.

Bottom line, if you are walking around your home in the winter in your shorts, you are going to be cooler and you will either raise the thermostat setting or put on more clothing. One choice will waste energy and the other is guaranteed to save energy.

As we learn to stop wasting, we are effectively giving ourselves a raise in salary. That’s great motivation, so whether you agree with the reports on global warming or believe we should keep drilling or not, most of us already agree that we’d like to have more money, so by reducing what we waste, we will all have more money left to enjoy on things that matter to us.

About the Author:

David Nelmes is a published author and home energy inspector in Pennsylvania, specializing in the fields of Heating and Air Conditioning, Electrical Wiring and Insulation. His career highlights include authoring ‘The Rewards of Making Energy Efficient Choices’. You can visit his websites at Energy Efficient Choices and Best Energy Saving Products