Using Less Energy To Feather Your Nest

Nest Labs was bought recently by Google, which also purchased Texas Wind Farms. Both companies are in the energy business. Nest manufactures Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostats and smoke alarms, while Texas Wind Farms produces clean, sustainable power.

Nest results mixed.

Nest claims it saves consumers about $175 a year in heating and cooling costs. In reality, these savings can be much lower because Nest aims to keep you comfortable, not keep energy use in check. Many people actually spend more using Nest than not using it, and Nest does not work at all with some oil pump heaters. Independent studies have found that programmable thermostats often result in higher energy consumption simply because people do not know how to use them properly. Nest does better than traditional programmable thermostats, but is not the magical device people expect it to be.

EnTouch for small business.

Large commercial office buildings have used energy-smart thermostats by Siemens and Howell for years, but their cost is prohibitive for small businesses. EnTouch aims to bridge the gap by offering a $5000 system that automates energy consumption by smaller facilities, such as restaurants. In most states, the largest non-industrial energy users are grocery chains; commercial freezers are notorious energy hogs. Equipment such as dish machines, commercial laundry machines, and ice machines all use significant amounts of energy. Replacing these systems and upgrading water-heating systems can produce energy savings without altering the way you do business.

Getting an energy audit.

Power companies are state regulated and most are under mandate to invest in energy programs such as solar power. In many states, residential and small business customers can have an energy audit done by the local power utility at a reasonable cost. Often there are rebates for the replacement of outmoded HVAC equipment, along with federal tax credits. Replacing a low energy efficient HVAC system is the first step in lowering energy costs. After that, consider adding insulation, replacing old windows and doors that are not air tight, repairing torn ducts, and painting a dark roof with a light, reflective coating. A thermostat would be toward the bottom of the list! A great thermostat system will save you money, but it can’t offset a low SEER system and its inefficiency.

Using alternative power.

If you install a solar or wind system, you can be eligible for federal and state tax credits. Often the cost to finance a solar system is about the same or less as your utility bill, so it in effect pays for itself if it provides more than 75% of your power needs. The break-even point is usually around 8 years, at which point your energy is basically free. While installing the panels on the south side of your roof will provide the most energy gain, installing on the western side will provide power during peak periods.

 

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The Top 10 Things To Know About Your AC

Your AC is an important part of your home’s comfort. There are a few simple things you can do to help your AC keep its cool in summer and its warm appeal in winter.

1. Change Your Filter: Yeah, you’ve heard it before. A dirty filter will reduce your AC system’s efficiency because trapped dirt reduces airflow. A dirty filter can also affect indoor air quality. The job of an AC filter is to rap dirt before it builds up on your evaporator coil and cause it to fail. Be sure your filter is the right size (not too small) and that is MERV 6 value or higher efficiency rating.

2. Service Your System Annually:  Every year, have a service tech clean the coil and drains, and check your system out. Many companies offer low rates for this service in the hopes of gaining you as a customer. Once a year, turn off the unit and spay the outside coils with a hose to remove dirt and leaves.

3. Check Your Ducts: Leaks in your ducts can reduce efficiency by 40% or more, causing your electric bill to soar. Many electric companies, including FPL, have a duct inspection and rebate program to repair or replace ducts. Seal leaky ducts and you can gain an up to extra half-ton of cooling and heating power from your AC.

4. Give Your Condenser Space: The outside part of your AC (the condenser) needs air to circulate around it to operate properly. Make sure it is not overgrown by bushes and that leaves are not clogging the vents.

5. Use Window Coverings: Heat-blocking drapes, curtains and shades reduce the load on your AC. Draw the drapes when you leave for work, and set the thermostat at 78 degrees. Drawing the drapes will keep the heat out, but during the winter leave them open. If your windows are leaky, keep the drapes pulled to keep the heat in when you are there. Weatherproofing windows and doors in one of the best ways to reduce your electric bills.

6. Keep Interior Doors Open: Your AC system is designed to work throughout your home. Closing doors to rooms you don’t use will not save money. It will throw your system off balance and make it more difficult for you to feel comfortable. Leave them open a foot or two.

7. Keep Your Thermostat Realistic: Lights, electrical appliances, etc. should not be near the thermostat because it can throw the gauge off. If your thermostat is in a hallway that is a lot cooler or hotter than the rest of your house, it will affect the accuracy of its readings.

8. Keep Registers And Vents Clear: Keep furniture, drapes and other objects away from registers and vents. Also do not close the vents completely in a room, for the same reason you shouldn’t close interior doors.

9.  Don’t Be In A Hurry: Setting your thermostat really low will not help it cool more quickly, not will setting it high make it heat more quickly. It will use more energy. Just set the temperature you want and be patient. Generally, a 1600 sq. ft. home will reach the right temperature in less than an hour.

10.  Use A Fireplace Screen: A lot of heat (and AC) goes up your chimney. Use a fire screen or insert to block airflow and cut down on electric costs. Keep the damper closed whenever you don’t have a fire.

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Lower your energy costs!

If you are blessed with having an actual winter, you are also cursed the heating bill at the end of the month. However, don’t worry, you can do a couple of simple things around the house to keep the costs low.

Ceiling fans are normally set during the summer to spin counterclockwise to push the cool air down. During the winter you want to switch them to spin clockwise at a low speed in order to push the hot air down and prevent cold spots in your home.

 

 

Insulated curtains help reduce draft and heat loss. The most effective types include acrylic or high-density foam insulation and reflective film that helps direct heat into the room. Make sure to take advantage of the daylight and keep the curtains open to bring in the heat. At night, close the curtains to keep the heat inside the room.

 

 

Turn your thermostat down! We’re not telling you to freeze in your house but while you are away set your thermostat 10-15 degrees lower and you will see a 10% savings on your heating bills. You should also set the water thermostat to 120 degrees; you won’t notice the difference. If you are also lighting up your home for the holidays then look into using LED lights to save money on your bill.

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