Energy saving tips and tricks for Texans
Late summer and early fall in Texas don’t always bring cooler breezes and lower temperatures. In fact, 100-degree days in fall are not uncommon. You can’t control the temperature, but you can control how you deal with it. Beat the heat, help the environment and save on your monthly energy bills with these energy-saving tips and tricks from SaveOnEnergy®.
It’s pretty simple to keep cool indoors if your appliances are running efficiently. Here are a few energy-saving that tips don’t cost a thing.
- Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher if you can. Every degree lower increases energy use by as much as 8%. And turn the temperature up even more when you leave the house.
- Close curtains and shades to filter out the sun’s direct rays.
- Run the dishwasher and washing machine early in the morning or after the sun goes down when it’s not as hot outside.
- Use fans to circulate the cool air from the air conditioner. Ceiling fans work especially well when you set them to move the air upward.
- Move furniture away from air vents to improve air circulation.
- Check your fireplace for leaks. Keep the damper closed when you aren’t using it to prevent warm or cool air from escaping. You can also consider getting energy-efficient fireplace grates to push warm air back into the room.
Following are a few more tips that aren’t free, but can be worthwhile:
- Shade your outdoor A/C unit if possible and regularly change the air filter on the inside unit.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. It will automatically lower the heat or air temperature while you’re away. Better yet, buy a smart thermostat so you can make adjustments from your iPhone.
- Add a pergola or awning to the patio so you can enjoy a meal outdoors in the shade.
- Plant shade trees on the sides of your home that receive southern and western exposure. In the summer, they’ll shade your home and keep it cooler. In the winter, they’ll serve as a windbreak.
- Use solar lights to illuminate your exterior. They are pretty affordable and easy to install and maintain.
- Get an energy audit. An auditor will go through your house room-by-room and let you know where you can save energy. Some auditors perform “blow tests” to make sure doors and windows are sealed properly and keeping in the cool or warm air. Fall is the perfect time to do this because it will give you time to make adjustments in time for winter. Fall is also an excellent time to check your furnace for any safety concerns.
Weatherize your home
You should also put a bit more time and money into making your home more heat resistant.
- Check the insulation in your attic and add some if needed or replace it where necessary.
- Install solar screens to keep the sun out.
- Keep furniture and carpet away from A/C vents to ensure cool air circulation.
- Caulk or seal windows to keep hot air outside.
- Replace old appliances with new ones that have the Energy Star label.
- Weather-strip the perimeter of exterior doors.
- Close the damper on your fireplace during the summer months.
- Replace ordinary light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Both produce less heat than regular bulbs.
Weatherizing your house can save hundreds of dollars on your utility bills, as well as add value to your home.
Take advantage of tax credits
Not only can you save money on your utility bills by weatherizing your home, but you can also save during tax season by making some adjustments. While the Lone Star State doesn’t have a statewide tax credit or rebate for solar energy, quite a few Texas cities and energy providers offer their own incentives to go green.
The federal government also offers a tax credit for making energy-saving improvements or installing energy-efficient appliances. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit applies to solar, wind, geothermal and fuel-cell technology, with some restrictions. It’s still available for the 2019 tax year but is gradually being phased out, so take advantage of it before the end of the year.
Henry Walsh is a gardening writer and eco-conscious living advocate. He recently began his homesteading journey after many years of incorporating the principles into his urban lifestyle.