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Tips for Reducing Your Heating and Cooling Demand

Here are a few tips that will help reduce the load on your heating and cooling systems so that they do not have to work so hard, resulting in further reductions of your heating and cooling costs.

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  • Insulating - In the summer, the attic is the first layer of defense between your homes living space and the sun. In the winter, the attic is the final layer between your heated air and the frigid air outdoors. The most economical thing you can do is to add additional layers of insulation to your attic or have more insulation blown in.
    • As insulation ages and compacts, its R value drops, so even if your home was insulated well when it was built 30 to 40 years ago, it needs to be topped off to compensate for natural compression and also to make up for the fact that utility costs have risen dramatically since the time the home was built.
  • Attic Ventilation - During the summer, your attic crawl space can easily exceed 130 degrees. Proper venting, such as installing a 'ridge vent' can be helpful in allowing the heat at the attic's highest level to more easily escape. Another great method is to install solar powered exhaust vents that only turn on at 100 degrees or higher and use only the power of the sun to provide this extra ventilation. Since there is no wiring necessary, any basic carpenter or handyman can install this for of vent.
  • Exhaust Systems - Your bathroom fans, stovetop fans and clothes drier are all items that exhaust your heated or cooled air outside, requiring that air to be drawn in from the outside, resulting in hot humid air or cold frigid air being sucked into your home when you least desire it.
    • For your clothes drier, on extreme temperature days, such as summer days at 90 degrees and greater or on winter days at 20 degrees or lower, do not use the clothes drier during the extreme end of that days temperature cycle. For example, in the summer, the heat of the day peaks between 3pm and 6pm, so run your drier earlier in the morning or much later at night. Likewise in the winter, the night temperatures may be frigid and drop into the single digits. Run your clothes drier only during the afternoon and early evening when the air is the warmest of the day. As an extra seal against outside air infiltration, install a dryer vent seal which ensures the dryer vent cap is closed when the dryer is not in use.
    • For your bathroom exhaust fans, replace the simple on/off switch with a timed switching device of no more than 30 minutes. It is necessary to ventilate the bathroom, but it's totally wasteful to find that the exhaust fan ran all day while at work, etc.
    • For your stovetop exhaust fan, during the winter, only use this fan if you have actual smoke to exhaust. Do not use it to exhaust steam since your home already lacks moisture in the winter and so the steam will perform no harm and will actually improve breathing conditions in the home. In the summer, this line of thinking is reversed since you definitely do want to exhaust the steam, so in the summer, be sure to run the fans to exhaust the steam and smoke and do your best to remember to turn them off when not in use.
  • Temperature Settings - If you raise of lower the temperature settings too much in order to save energy, it can become uncomfortable in your home and that can only lead to associating energy efficiency with something that is undesirable...and then you might stop being efficient altogether.
    • Heating systems are generally designed to provide your home with the capacity to maintain 70 degrees indoors when it's 0 degrees outdoors. By eliminating drafts and simply wearing long sleeve shirts during the winter, you can easily reduce your homes temperature setting to 65 degrees and be totally comfortable. Any lower than that and you may start feeling uncomfortable.
    • Cooling systems are generally designed to provide your home with the capacity to maintain 75 degrees indoors when it's 95 degrees outdoors. Since the main discomfort issue in the summer is humidity, you can be comfortable in your home at higher temperatures since the homes humidity levels are reduced when running the air conditioner. By eliminating unnecessary exhaust and door openings and closings, you could increase your homes temperature setting to 78 or 80 and be totally comfortable if you dress lightly and keep drapes drawn that favor the suns side of your home.
    • For either heating or cooling, you can alter the temperature settings from 5 to 10 degrees max for when you are not going to be at home for 8 to 12 hours. Making an alteration of any greater amount only leads to your system overworking to recover and this is inefficient. If you are going to be away for days, you can reduce the heating to 55 degrees or raise the cooling to 90 degrees and this will prevent freezing issues or baking issues.
      • Note: I find that many individuals turn off their central air conditioning when not at home and then will often return to their sweltering home later that day. In the same way that you would not turn off your heat, don't turn off the AC if you are retuning later that day. Instead, set the thermostat from to 85 to 90 degrees and allow it to maintain that temperature so that the unit does not have to work so hard to remove all the moisture and humidity at days end when the outdoor temperatures are excessive and outdoor humidity levels have peaked.

For even more tips on improving the energy efficiency of your home, please see our section entitled Home Energy Efficiency.


Find a Local Professional Contractor - venting, ridge vent, solar powered, heating systems, exhaust vents, winter, summer, humidity, greenest choices, energy efficiency, being greenFind a Local Professional Contractor

Only a professional contractor can accurately determine all the best energy saving improvements you can make in your home.

Almost all contractors offer free estimates, so before you spend another day unsure about how much energy you are just throwing away, find a contractor in your area by using the simple form below. Get the facts from a pro and then you can make an informed decision about how much you will benefit by making energy saving improvements within your home.


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