Here are some tips that you can use to be more green and save some money.
Computers- Computers are becoming more and more prevalent in our homes. Many homes have more than one computer. Computers are always drawing power while they are on. You can realize some energy savings by changing your setting to "power management". Laptop computers can use up to 90% less power than full size desktop computers. Try to keep your computer up to date with software releases and clean of viruses that can cause the processor to run continuously. As the processor is being used cooling fans are activated to keep the processor cool. If you walk into your home office and are hearing the fan running continuously it may be time to do some maintenance. That is the sound of energy being used. Turn your computer off at night or when not in use. I know that we all want the instant on when we move the mouse, but that 2 minute start up time can save you money in the long run.
Air Conditioners-I know that we all like to be cooler during these heat wave but there is still a way to be energy conscious. Raise the temperature of the thermostat by 5 degrees and you can save up to 10% in cooling costs. Most Air conditioner are designed to have a temperature differential of 15 to 20 degrees. That means the air coming out of the vents should be 15 to 20 degrees cooler then the outside air temperature. If the outside air is 100 degrees the inside air would be 80 degrees. This differential and the dehumidification that air conditioner provide is what helps us to feel cooler. Adding fans to circulate air in your home will also make you feel cooler.
Water heaters- Adjust hot water heaters to 120 degrees or to "Normal". If you are going to be away on vacation then setting the hot water heater to "vacation" can save you some additional cost. The toughest part is to remember to turn it back up when you return, otherwise that first shower can be an eye opening experience. The cost of heating water can be as high 13% of home energy costs. This percentage can be higher depending on the efficiency your heating system.
Clothes Washing- Approximately 90% of energy cost for clothes washers can be attributed to water heating. Try to wash your clothes in cold water as often as possible. Waiting until you have full loads for dishes and clothes will allow you to maximize your savings.
Faucets- Make sure that all of your faucet have aerators. Aerators replace some of the water with air, this allows for a full stream and still conserves water. This will work in most sink faucets and can be found at hardware stores or any big box stores. I do not recommend that you use these aerators in tubs. I had to remove the one in my tub because I found that it took too long to fill the tub. We mainly take showers so changing to a low flow shower heads can be a better way to save on water usage. This will allow you to be more responsible with water usage and lower energy cost by reducing the energy used to pump and heat water.
I hope that these tips can help you save some cost and sleep better at night knowing that you have done your part to make your home a little bit greener.
Jason Horn is a home inspector in Newtown, CT and one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc., a home inspection firm with offices in Newtown and Stamford. If you have any home inspection related questions feel free to call him at (203)304-9140