We can’t deny that electricity was a great discovery (thanks, Benjamin Franklin!), but if you want to keep those Benjamins in your wallet, it’s time to start conserving energy. Plus, being more cognizant of energy usage goes beyond protecting your funds; it also impacts our global environment.
There are two things our team at Santa Fe Air loves: saving money and saving the world… from poor HVAC systems (not all heroes wear capes, folks). But we also want our Kansas City community to understand how reduced energy consumption can make a greener impact.
Keep reading to learn our top five tips on how to save energy throughout the year.
Why is saving energy so important?
Electricity doesn’t just appear in your home from thin air. It requires a network of boxes, cables, and wires that all stem from one source—power plants. Despite the word plant, they aren’t all that green; in fact, they expel toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Most power plants across the world use some kind of fossil fuel (i.e. coal). Burning coal in a broiler produces steam, which flows under high pressure into a turbine. That turbine then spins a generator to produce electricity.
Pretty simple, right?
Not only do these toxins hurt the environment, they can also wreak major havoc on your body. Too much exposure to pollutants can damage your brain, respiratory system, kidneys, skin, learning capabilities, and more. Basically, this stuff is not a joke and should be taken very seriously.
To make matters worse, when your personal electricity usage goes up, you’re affecting the environment and spiking your utility bill. But do not fret, we have all the answers you’re looking for on how to cut down your energy consumption.
Tip #1: Stop turning all the lights on
We promise there are no monsters lurking in the dark (hopefully). If it’s a bright, sunny day, open up some blinds and let natural light seep through! That allows you to see inside your home without flipping those light switches on and off all day. In the winter, heat from the sun can also help you stay warm without turning up the furnace too high.
There’s also a cost-effective way of turning lights off.
Don’t I just turn off the switch?
Yes, that’s how you turn the light off, but we’re talking about when you should turn a light off. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of how much energy you save during the process depends on the type of bulbs you use and the price of electricity in your area.
Incandescent lights: As a general rule, you should turn off incandescent lights whenever you don’t need them, mainly because they are the least efficient type of lighting (they give off more heat than light, so turning them off can also keep your house cooler in the summer).
Halogen lights: Though halogen lights are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, they implement the same technology… so again, shut them off.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL): Since CFL bulbs are the most efficient type of incandescent lighting, the rules for them are slightly different. If you’re going to be out of a room for less than 15 minutes, then keep the light on. However, if you know you’ll be gone for more than 15 minutes, shut the light off.
Light-Emitting Diodes (LED): If you really want to step your game up, replace your incandescent lights with LED lights where you can. That way you have the most efficient lighting possible to save energy.
Tip #2: Unplug your devices
Ever heard of power vampires? They are the devices that suck your electricity without you noticing.
Many people don’t realize that just because you’ve turned a device off, doesn’t mean it’s not using energy. New technology will keep updating or performing other maintenance functions even on “standby mode.”
So you may be thinking you’re saving money by turning off your T.V., but unless you completely unplug it, you’re not really doing much for your bill. In fact, idle electronics add up to about $19 billion per year, or $165 per American household.
However, if you have more up-to-date electronics, you may not have to worry about this issue as much. Newer devices have significantly improved how much energy they consume in standby mode. Plus, if you have smart appliances and devices, they are great at limiting how much power they use on a daily basis.
Speaking of smart devices…
Tip #3 Upgrade to a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat is a thermostat that connects to the internet to perform a variety of functions. That means they don’t just check your home’s temperature. They are a way to automate your home so it can program settings without you doing a single thing. Plus, smart thermostats come with a ton of awesome features such as “learning” your preferences, reminding you when you need maintenance, checking for HVAC issues, and even providing data about your energy consumption.
The best part? They often come with apps so you can check in on your home wherever you are. So if you forget to turn down your A/C while you’re on your Bahamas vacation (doesn’t that sound relaxing?), just open your app, lower the temperature, and you’re good to go.
Understanding how a smart thermostat works can be a little tricky. Like other types of thermostats, they read the temperature of your home to determine when to kick on your heating and cooling. From there, smart thermostats take things a little further.
With the help of sensors around your house and the internet, smart thermostats can help you maintain the perfect balance in a click of a button. They give accurate readings and also monitor when you change the settings. Basically, smart thermostats do all the hard work for you.
As a result, they can help you maximize your energy use, which will help you reduce how much you’re paying for utilities.
Tip #4: Invest in a Communicating HVAC system
Fun fact of the day: According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 51% of household energy consumption stems from space heating and air conditioning—a communicating HVAC system can help.
A communicating HVAC system depends on a communicating thermostat, and it’s only compatible with two-stage systems or all variable-capacity systems. With a noncommunicating system, all that opening and closing of circuits require a lot of wiring. But a communicating system only requires four wires—two for power (heating and cooling) and two for communication between different components.
Here’s why this works: instead of control via the absence or presence of voltage, a communicating HVAC system acts more like a computer network. Think about the bluetooth on your phone. When you turn on your bluetooth it searches for compatible devices. That’s exactly what a communicating system does. The communicating thermostat pairs with other parts in the system, which in turn starts the communication process.
The process is pretty cool, actually. Different heating and cooling components tell the thermostat what they can and cannot do in terms of capacity. Then blower motors say how much air can move through the system, so that the thermostat can work as efficiently as possible. Plus, the different components can also communicate with each other to ensure every part is working to the best of its ability. As a result, this gives communicating systems a huge energy-saving advantage over its traditional counterparts.
Tip #5: Try out a home energy management system
Basically, a home energy management system is designed to control both energy production and energy consumption. This usually comes in the form of a device that serves as a communication platform between you and the data that’s been collected. There are two ways these devices can be installed:
- Physically on your home’s electrical board
- Virtually via wi-fi connection
The software itself is in charge of incoming and outgoing data. Plus, this data can include tons of stuff like how much energy you’re using versus how much energy you actually need. This allows you to get feedback on your home’s energy consumption in real time. It’s amazing how much technology has changed!
Now all this may sound pretty technical, but implementing a home energy management system is incredibly easy. The advancement of smart technology takes your day-to-day devices and turns them into energy monitors.
Some cool devices you can try include:
- Smart thermostats (yes, we’re bringing them up again)
- Smart lighting
- Smart plugs
- Smart appliances
Learn more about how to save energy with our experts at Santa Fe Air
At Santa Fe Air, we pride ourselves on knowing all things heating, cooling, and electrical. We’re the best HVAC company in Kansas City, and we help people in the KC and Johnson County areas get the most out of their heating and cooling systems without expelling too much energy.
No matter what, our customers receive pristine service each and every time. Through our dedication and care, we ensure we get the job done right the first time—no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Since 1987 (yep, you read that correctly!) we’ve provided the best service by treating our customers like family, keeping our word, and avoiding upselling just to catch an extra buck. In the end, you get to make the final decision about what’s best for our home to maximize your family’s comfort; we’re just here to help you get there!
Get started today with a free online quote.