Jul 1, 2015

Most of us have seen or read them – energy conservation lists.  But, do you conserve energy by doing things that you don’t read about in all those lists on how to conserve?

Over the years my wife and I have made an effort to use those lists as a starting point, and usually we hit about 80% of the suggestions.  However, I’ve noticed that we as a family have some non-traditional practices that we use to conserve energy which keeps our costs and consumption down – the other 20% if you will.  And even though ‘its only 20%’, these practices have had a way in our household of adding up. Energy savings and financial savings.

outdoor thermometer
Image courtesy of Liz.

Here are four practices that we use which can be easily implemented in most homes.

  1. Clean the return vents on a forced air heating/cooling system.  It is often mentioned that it is important to replace the furnace’s filter; however, also consider cleaning the return vent grill.  You can use the vacuum cleaner hose to clean the return vent or grill.  A clogged vent can significantly impede airflow in the return system and impact the heating/cooling efficiency.
  2. Use an indoor/outdoor thermometer system.  When the mornings are cool in the summer, open the door and/or windows.  Let in the cool morning air in until you observe the outside temperature is about to go above the indoor temperature.  I sometimes use a fan to help bring in the cool air in the morning.  Then close the door and/or windows to keep the cool air in.  You need to take into consideration the humidly and pollen levels especially if you have allergies.  On a warm fall of spring day, I’ll entice the warm afternoon air in to help keep the house warm.
  3. Close and open vents in a multistory house.  We live in a split level home with forced air heat.  In the winter we close the upstairs’ vents so that the vents on the lower level and midlevel floors are open.  Since the heat rises, the upper level is very comfortable.  We do the reverse in the summer by closing the lower level vents and opening the upper level vents.  The middle level vents are never change.  I have friends who live in townhouses that also use this system.
  4. Keep the temperature set for winter and summer.  Much is made of the programmable thermostats and they do well.  However, we set the temperature at 63 degrees on the winter which means with the heat rising, the upper level of our house is around 68 degrees.  In the summer we set the thermostat at 78 degrees.  Once we set the temperature we leave the thermostat alone.  Only occasionally when we have guests do we adjust it a degree or two.

These ideas are centered on heating and cooling with a forced air system. Have other non-traditional conservation tips that are not typically found on the multitude of conservation lists out there?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

This content was provided by Ralph Weitz. Weitz is a retired pastor with two degrees in forestry, currently he works part-time for Green Spring Gardens in Fairfax County, VA as the volunteer coordinator.

Feature image courtesy of Megan Sparks

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