Temperatures are quickly rising, which means that we’ll soon be receiving a lot of calls for air conditioning maintenance and repair service. To help you increase comfort and save energy and money this spring and summer, take a look at these energy-saving tips for the bedroom and living room.
Energy-Saving Tips for the Bedroom and Living Room
1. Take Advantage of Sunlight
Take advantage of the natural heat from the sun by opening up your drapes and curtains when the sun is out. Consider placing your desk or other high-use space near a window where you can get natural light and heat. Natural light is better for your health, wellbeing, and productivity. It also saves you money on lighting costs.
In the spring and summer, do just the opposite. Close your blinds and drapes when the sun is out. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “Highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45%.”
You may also want to consider these energy-saving window treatments:
- Window Awnings — can reduce solar heat gain “by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows” (U.S. DOE).
- Drapery — light-colored drapes with white-plastic backings “can reduce heat gains by 33%” (U.S. DOE).
- Highly-Reflective Film — reflective window films work best for climates with long cooling seasons since they also block solar rays in the winter. They also impair outside visibility and may require extra cleaning.
- Mesh Window Screens — install mesh window screens on the exterior frame of the window. They help diffuse the sunlight coming into the home. They are particularly effective on east-and-west-facing windows.
- Window Overhangs — Window overhangs should be a part of your passive heating and cooling strategy. These include window awnings, louvered patio covers, or lattice-type panels.
In addition to closing blinds and drapes when the sun is out, make sure there is no air leakage around your windows. Test for air leaks with a lit piece of incense or thin piece of toilet paper. If the paper or smoke moves erratically, you have an air leak that should be fixed. Learn how to caulk and weatherstrip around your windows.
2. Dimmer Switches
Not only are dimmer switches romantic, they also save a lot of energy. Dimming a light by a certain amount saves about that much percentage in energy.
3. Appropriate Indoor Lighting
You want to make sure you have the right lighting for your home. Speak with a professional electrician about the various lights available for your space.
You want a good combination of ambient lighting, task lighting, as well as energy-efficient light bulbs, such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes).
Swap out the old incandescent for LED lighting and you’ll use around 75% less energy. According to ENERGY STAR, if every U.S. home replaced just one light bulb with ENERGY STAR LED bulb, “we would save enough energy to light 2.6 million homes for a year and more than $566 million in annual energy costs.”
LED lights also last up to 50 times as long as incandescent lights and come in a wide variety of styles and color temperatures.
4. Paint Walls a Light Color
The lighter the color your walls, the better they will be able to reflect light. If you have darker walls, you’ll need more light, which means more energy.
5. Ceiling Fans
Install ceiling fans to limit the need for air conditioning and heating. Yes, heating too! If you flip the black switch at the base of your ceiling fan, you can reduce the direction of your fan blades, thus reversing the direction of airflow. Since heat rises, this will help force the warm air near your ceiling down to the living spaces below.
Since ceiling fans don’t actually heat or cool the room, it’s important to only have them running when you are in the room. Turn off all fans when you leave the room. Use ceiling fans in place of air conditioning during warmer weather to conserve energy (up to 40%!).
6. Check and Change Air Filters Regularly
Set phone and calendar reminders to check your air filter every month. Take the filter out and hold it up to a light source. If you can’t see light pass through the filter, it’s time for a replacement.
Make sure you have plenty of replacements on hand so you don’t have to run to the local home improvement store. By regularly changing your air filter, you’ll not only improve indoor air quality, you’ll also extend the lifespan of your HVAC equipment and reduce the need for repairs and maintenance.
Also, don’t forget to schedule an air conditioning tune-up in the spring and a heating tune-up in the fall. Your HVAC technician will clean all of the components and even replace your air filter!
7. Programmable Thermostat
Install a programmable thermostat for improved control and savings by automatically scheduling the times of day that the HVAC system is in use. Remember, your programmable thermostat is only as effective as the person doing the programming.
Set your thermostat to no higher than 68 degrees in the winter and no lower than 78°F in the summer. As long as you are dressed properly, these are perfectly comfortable temperatures.
Cranking the heat up or down will not cool your home any faster, so just set the desired temperature and let the HVAC system do its thing.
For more spring energy-saving tips, refer to this infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy:
Infographic by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department
Related Resources for Improving Comfort and Energy Savings at Home:
Energy Efficiency Myths
How to Get Air Conditioner Ready for Warmer Weather
8 Earth-Friendly Bathroom Tips for Health and Efficiency
11 Energy-Saving Tips and Tricks
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