by Gilbert Migirditsian, professional engineer, home inspector, and founder of GM Inspection
With colder weather finally upon us, it is now wise for one to ponder how energy savings can become possible without freezing but is this something that is truly possible? No, I’m not recommending wear three sweaters while sleeping under two comforters but above anything else, personal comfort is what drives a person to change his or her habits and can’t be neglected. For that reason, whatever solution you choose, always think about how it will affect you because this will inevitably decide whether or not the energy savings will stick. The most obvious recommendation is how and when you heat. If you have a central system using forced air, doing something as simple as changing the filter will go a long way where this is not because that little motor will not have to work as hard (even though it’s true) but more so due to the fact that hot air will actually get to where you want it and therefore cause you to ask less heat from your furnace. Another major way you can get immediate energy savings is by installing a programmable thermostat. If you have baseboard heaters, this can be done very easily. If you have a complicated system like I have at my home with two zones, this can be a bit more complicated but, for most, this is a simple way to get immediate savings. Dropping only two degrees Celsius when you are away from home will go a very long way and nobody will be home to complain about the temperature! The next way I’d recommend gaining energy savings is by looking into replacing any incandescent lighting with either compact fluorescent or LED lighting. But again, energy savings should not be obtained at any cost (and need to calculated carefully) as lighting affects décor and mood and you don’t want to end up with a smaller energy bill while feeling uncomfortable in your own home. If you are living in an older building, better insulation will also have a positive effect on your energy bills. Obviously, the gains have to be pretty significant for you to reinsulate your walls because of the cost but adding insulation in the attic is, from my experience, one place you can make major gains. Make sure to get the advice of a professional because there is a fine line between the amount you invest and the savings you will generate as the payback period may end up being quite long. Finally, and not be neglected, is the way you go about your daily life when using energy. Washing your clothes in cold water, turning off any unused lights, closing the shades at night, and even how you cook (using a convection oven, for example) will positively affect your energy savings over the long term without causing you much change to adapt to. The key is to keep in mind that no matter what you decide to do, the fact you stick with it means you have been able to live with it. Nobody likes torturing themselves and it’s best to using energy wisely than trying to cut energy consumption.
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