Solar energy use is on the rise among residential homes. We are quickly realizing that there is nothing more natural and cost effective than harnessing the sun’s energy, especially in such a sunny state as California.
Did you know there are some very simple, very easy and inexpensive steps you can take along with installing solar panels to make your home run even more efficiently? No, we aren’t saying this means you have to go to bed at sundown like your great grandparents did, or sell your air conditioner and suffer in the heat.
For example, have you considered using your outdoor grill for more than just grilling burgers and steaks? By using indirect heat you can turn an outdoor gas grill into a very efficient oven that won’t heat up the house. Even when using the oven is a must, by turning on the overhead vent fan you can greatly reduce the amount of passive heat an oven generates.
Power strips are a cheap way to control energy use. Laptops, tablets and cell phone chargers are energy vampires. Instead of trying to remember to unplug every charger, put them all on a power strip and simply flip the switch when you are finished. Power strips also work well for televisions and satellite systems. Even when a game console, dvd player, television or satellite receiver is off, it is still drawing standby power.
For appliances like clothes dryers, think about going outdoors. Clothes lines are a common sight in many countries. They save energy and don’t heat up your home. As an added bonus, sunlight is an effective way to brighten whites and keep away static cling. It may save you money at the drugstore as well because sunlight kills athlete’s foot fungus and is a natural disinfectant as well. Not to mention the wear and tear it will save on your favorite t shirt by not beating it up in the dryer.
Did you know using a ceiling fan means you can keep your thermostat set four degrees higher with the same results? Another thing to try is only use the air conditioner during the day. Turn it off at night, open the windows and let in that night air. In the morning close the house back up to keep in the cool air and turn the a/c back on. When you aren’t home try turning up the thermostat a few degrees, it can make a big difference in savings. Close off rooms you don’t actually live in like walk in closets and guest bedrooms. Look into a smart thermostat that will learn your routine and set itself to your normal preferences. Along with all this, simple window coverings that block out sunlight will help as well.
Motion sensing lights that will only stay on for a set period of time are becoming more popular in places like public restrooms, so why not try them at home? Inexpensive outdoor dusk to dawn solar landscape lighting and solar porch and garage lighting give an inviting glow to any home. Furthermore with the new types of light bulbs making their way to the marketplace it’s a great idea to replace bulbs with more efficient ones as your old ones burn out.
Finally, when you decide to begin to install any type of solar system, you can always start small. With the newer systems it’s becoming easy to add on as you go. Look into solar water heating as well. Energy experts state as much as one third of your energy costs come from heating water. Another solar item gaining ground is the solar attic fan (these have a government incentive just like solar panels). When compared to an electric system it is free to operate and can make a huge difference in heating and cooling costs by keeping your attic closer to your indoor temperature. They actually turn off and on by a built in thermostat.