Increasing the efficiency of your solar home can reduce or even eliminate your monthly electric bills.
Fortunately, saving energy doesn’t have to take lots of planning or a large financial investment. In fact, we have assembled six simple — and free — steps you can take right now to reduce your solar home energy use.
No. 1: Unplug Unused Electronics
Chances are, if you look around your home right now, you’ll find device chargers, video game consoles, kitchen appliances and many other electronics that are always plugged in, even when you’re not using them.
Did you know that these devices and appliances — known as energy vampires — use electricity even when they’re not turned on? They do, and in fact, they use more power than you might think.
Unplug your unused electronics, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says you’ll save up to 10 percent on your home electricity bill.
No. 2: Turn Off the Lights
Turning off unnecessary lights is another easy way to improve your solar home efficiency. However, this measure is only cost-effective for some types of bulbs.
Incandescent and halogen lights are inefficient, so turning them off when you’re not using them is always advised.
On the other hand, CFL bulbs are highly energy-efficient and their operating life is affected by how often they are switched on and off. As a general guideline, only turn off these lights if you won’t need them for at least 15 minutes. As for LED lights, switching them off won’t have any impact on your electricity bill either way.
No. 3: Clean Your Air Filters
Clogged or dirty air filters restrict the airflow to your home’s heating and cooling system. This can eventually lead to damage and costly repairs. But even if no harm is done, a dirty filter makes your HVAC system work harder and run longer to achieve the desired temperature.
And that equates to more power used, and higher bills.
Take a few minutes to change or clean your air filters every month, and you’ll keep your system running smoothly and efficiently. If you have pets or live in a dusty place, you may even want to change your filter more often.
No. 4: Adjust Your Refrigerator and Freezer Temperatures
Refrigerators and freezers are electricity hogs, so make sure they aren’t using any more energy than they absolutely need.
You can avoid wasting energy by setting these appliances at the proper temperatures. Refrigerators should be kept at or below 40 degrees, and freezers should be 0 degrees. Place an instant-read thermometer in each compartment and verify that your settings are correct.
If yours aren’t accurately set, adjust the temperature controls accordingly. Give the appliance a couple of days to adjust and retest to make sure you didn’t turn it up (or down) too much.
No. 5: Lower Your Water Heater Temperature
Some manufacturers factory-set water heaters temps at 140 degrees, but according to the DOE, 120 degrees is sufficient for most households — at least during the warmer months of the year.
Lowering your water heater temperature setting is a simple way to increase solar home efficiency and save on annual electricity costs.
No. 6: Set Your Thermostat to a Higher Temperature
Try turning your thermostat up just one degree. Your family probably won’t even notice the difference, but you’ll see the savings on your electric bill. Once everyone adjusts to the higher temperature, turn it up again.
In most homes, every degree you adjust up to saves 1 to 3 percent in home energy costs.
These are just some of the options you can choose to lower your power bill. Or, if you would prefer not to make any major lifestyle changes, you can always expand your photovoltaic system with additional solar modules.
Intermountain Wind & Solar, the leading photovoltaic provider in the Intermountain West, can help you design the most effective system for your home. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of a solar home.