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Energy Efficiency

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Opening large utility bills each month often leads homeowners to try to improve energy efficiency in their home. Many times this task is ignored out of fear of having to spend thousands on new appliances or alternative energy setups. However, there are many minor adjustments that can be made throughout almost every area of one’s home to decrease power expenditures and increase utility effectiveness.

Numerous methods for gaining better energy efficiency require only minor adjustments around the house. Homeowners should switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs for starters. They use seventy-five percent less electricity and last ten times as long as traditional bulbs.  Installing programmable thermostats greatly improves the output of one’s HVAC system. Turning the thermostat lower or completely off during work hours helps save the average homeowner close to two hundred dollars a year.

Many buildings are equipped with electric or oil furnaces. These can easily be converted to natural gas. Many homeowners ask themselves, "how can I switch to natural gas"? Sixty percent of homes in America are reported to use natural gas as the most cost efficient source for heating. Natural gas systems operate at ninety-five to ninety-eight percent effectiveness while oil and electric systems can only operate at eighty-seven percent effectiveness at the most. Natural gas systems last for twenty years or more and offer home owners up to a fifty percent increase in energy efficiency. Fifty to seventy percent of utilities are used to either heat or cool a home. This can be brought to lower than thirty-five percent if the proper insulation is installed. Re-insulating the furnace, attic, and between the walls helps homes retain heat during the winter and refract heat during the summer. Properly insulating around a home’s air ducts alone will increase energy effectiveness by twenty percent.

Two other major areas energy efficiency can be gained are cutting back on water usage and implementing solar technologies. A great starting point is the water heater. Many heaters are set at about one hundred-forty degrees. Turning the heater between one hundred-twenty and one hundred-thirty degrees will gain an extra five percent in utility efficiency. Installing faucet aerators rated at 2.75 gallons per minute or lower and low-flow shower heads will earn an additional two to five percent in effectiveness and cut down on waste. The majority of older water heaters can be wrapped in extra insulation which lessens heating time and slows the cooling process. Furnace conversion for oil, natural gas, or electric water heaters to solar heaters can save customers several hundred dollars each year. Solar water heaters raise water temperature at the same rate as other fuel systems and still provide hot water during power outages. In addition to a thermal water heater, a large amount of utility efficiency can be achieved by converting to a solar furnace.  A solar furnace will help homeowners save up to thirty-three percent on the home’s total utility output.

Another option is a PV system and geothermal pump. This produces the same energy as a traditional solar furnace at half the cost. This system also produces the same power as natural gas at a quarter of the cost, and coal and oil systems at only a tenth of the operating cost. Following these easy to implement steps around the house or installing an alternative power system will help drastically improve energy efficiency.

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