We know the media is awash with tips and tricks for ‘Going Green’. In fact, we’ve become so inundated with claims and products purporting to be ‘the answer’ to being “greener” that we’re skeptical of all the ‘Greewashing’ or overuse of the word and concept of “green”, so let’s agree to refer to this as making more environmentally responsible choices instead. And yes, you can save money by paying attention and doing several small things and a few more moderate considerations at your vacation home that make a big impact on your total energy costs.
To begin, let’s start in the kitchen:
- Make sure your refrigerator is level. This is important to be sure the door closes automatically and doesn’t stay opened until someone shuts it.
- While you’re there, check the seal on the door using this tip: close a dollar bill in the door, if it pulls out easily it may be time to replace (or even just clean thoroughly) the gaskets.
- Next, it’s important for efficient energy and performance of your refrigerator to clean the coils. Check and clean the back of the refrigerator as well as underneath. Take off the front grill at the bottom and make sure this area has been cleaned well. Much dust and debris is often caked around the workings of this appliance causing it to run harder than it needs to.
- Provide an outside grill for your guests. Yes, they really love cooking outside and when they do, this saves you in energy cost by not heating up the kitchen!
- When it’s time to replace your appliances, opt for the one with the highest energy star rating. A few extra dollars spent will give you years worth of energy savings payback.
Let’s move to the laundry room:
- Clean the dryer duct that goes to the outside. You may need a special brush for this to get it all cleaned but it’s very important for the life of your dryer, energy costs and preventing a potential fire hazard from lint build up.
- The dryer vent itself must be cleaned with every use, but it’s also important to actually wash this off with soap and water at least twice annually. Often the filter gets gunked up with residue from dryer sheets and other products used in our laundry care so the air does not flow through the vent properly, causing your dryer to be overworked and use more energy.
- About your washing machine….front load machines clean the best, use less water, less energy and less detergent. All around they are the better choice, so consider replacing yours. Charities such as Hotline and other organizations are happy to receive your used but working machines when you replace. This donation can be a tax deduction as well perhaps, adding to your overall savings.
- Provide a clothesline. Your guests would love to just hang up beach towels and the like outside rather than spending time re-washing and drying them. Provide them the means to use the natural clothes dryer – fresh air, and enjoy the energy savings!
- Check for water leaks both inside and outside. Fix faucet drips, running toilets and leaking hose bibs immediately.
- Install aerating shower heads and faucets to use less water.
- Low flow toilets also save you in water consumption.
- You knew we were going to get to your hot water heater: at minimum, wrap this in an insulating blanket to keep heat in and insulate your pipes to save electricty
- Consider putting your water heater on a timer at night to cut back on the temperature when water is not often needed as much
- Adjust the temperature down to 120 degrees to prevent scalds and save on energy costs
- Tips 4,5, and 6 can save you at minimum $10 a month in electricity, do them all for the most savings
- Even better, upgrade to energy star hot water heater
- Best: for ultimate efficiency replace your traditional water heater with an on demand or tankless water heater, saving you 25% to even 50% in energy costs over your current water heater. For more information on how these work and energy savings, click on this link: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tankless-or-demand-type-water-heaters
We saved the best for last -HVAC:
- Did you know that your heating and cooling equipment represent 50% or more of your energy cost? This is the largest area of savings. Small things make a big impact in this area.
- Let’s start with the importance of cleaning and servicing your HVAC equipment at least annually for best efficiency. Build up in dust and debris really affects your equipments performance. It’s important to spend the time and money here to ensure your guests enjoy the benefits of proper heating and especially cooling in your home. Our maintenance division can help you with this. Log on to your owner web site: http://www.lsitools.com/ownerweb/fileup/documents/4989/4989_2012820141052GE7KD8GPCC5T.pdf for more details on the services available.
- While you’re on the owner web site, also sign up for monthly AC filter changes. Changing your filters on a regular basis saves energy, heating and cooling costs, and keeps your guests happy by keeping your system working at top performance. Thinking about the denser 3 month filters? Our advice, don’t. Honest, the less expensive AC filters changed on a monthly basis work the best.
- Consider sealing your ducts to maximize your HVAC efficiency
- Move furniture or any obstructions from vents and registers on the floor so that air moves freely.
- Check windows for proper caulking, you’d be amazed at how much loss goes through your windows and doors
- With that in mind, check doors for weather stripping and replace as necessary.
- Even further, check electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and recessed light fixtures which are prime places for air leaks in your home. Add foam gaskets behind receptacle covers and switch plates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets.
- If you have recessed or can type lighting, you can buy inexpensive covers to go over top of these lights (installed in the attic area) to prevent energy loss
- Check the insulation in your attic area as the greatest source of loss up to 30%, is through your attic
- Use a foam sealant for any gaps in your walls, plumbing outlets, and vents
- Install ceiling fans to help your home stay cool and your energy cost stay down
- Use curtains, shades and other window coverings (even professionally installed window film) for insulation, shade and protection of fabrics from fading. This makes a big difference!
- When it’s time to replace your HVAC equipment, pay attention to the SEER rating for maximum energy efficiency. Need to talk about this more? We can help! Visit our HVAC division at http://www.airhandlersobx.com/
Other things you can do:
- Go ahead and just do it, change your light bulbs to CFL, LED or LCD bulbs. You’ll gain years of bulb free replacement time, in fact, many bulbs now last in excess of 25 years!
- Landscaping is important to good curb appeal of your home, but be sure to use native plants. They’ll live longer and require less water – saving you replacement costs and water use
While there’s a lot of information here, we hope that you’ve found that making a significant dent in your energy and water consumption through these tips is much easier than you thought – And less costly. Invest the time going through your home this season looking for the above ways to save and keep your guests comfortable at the same time. If you can’t spare the time doing these things yourself, we’re glad to help. Just let our maintenance team handle the details for you. We’re just a phone call or email away!