Thursday, June 23, 2011

Money saving tips for heating and cooling using Energy Star

Energy Star appliances have become a common place in today's world.  Most people would really have to try to NOT have an energy star appliance or device in their home today. So let's see what makes a device an energy star one!

What is Energy Star?
According to, the energy star label is a:
...trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.
The ENERGY STAR label was established to:
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy; and
  • Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.
One of the best features of the ENERGY STAR label is the fact that once they have the market share of products, meaning once there is 50% or more of an ENERGY STAR device under one category, they revise the specifications and raise the minimum efficiency standards, they impose harder performance and quality standards, etc.  Yes, in a way, that could make your device no longer ENERGY STAR, however, that makes the field grow ever better in terms of efficiency, quality and makes the world a better place. 

Currently some of the biggest bills out there that a person has is from the heating and cooling of a home accounting for approximately 29% and 17% respectively.  Following that is the water heater (14%), appliances like the refrigerator, dishwater, and clothes washer/dryer (13%), lighting (12%), electronics like the TV, DVD player, computer etc (4%) and of course, the 'other' category like the ceiling fans, home audio, vent fans, etc (11%).

The heating and cooling of ones home is by far the most expensive parts of ones budget and there are some simple ways to save a few bucks without buying a new, more efficient device.  However, if your device is more than 12 years old, replacing it could save you 30% off your bill which would result in a pretty quick payback period!  To be an energy star device you need to have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (or SEER) and an Energy Efficiency Ratio (or EER) of 14% more efficient than standard models.  Here are some tips to help save money!
  1. Change your air filter regularly (preferably every 3 months) a new filter allows the air to flow easier and the system work less, saving you energy. Likewise, a clean filter will help keep the air cleaner in the home because dirty air wont be circulating around. I recommend getting a 3M Filtrete filter, they are capable of filtering out bacteria, pet dander, smog, mold, smoke and just about everything that isn't good! I like 3M because their products are top of the line and if you can filter smoke, then everything else will get filtered as well.
  2. Tune-up your HVAC yearly. Your car needs a tune-up, why wouldn't your heating/cooling system? This should be done by a professional.
  3. A programable thermostat will save you money. These typically will pay for themselves very quickly as you can tell it to raise/lower the heating/cooling while you are gone and when you return so it's like nothing ever happened, except a lower energy bill.  ;-)
  4. Seal & Insulate the heating and cooling ducts.
  5. Insulate your home!  Not having a tightly sealed home is like leaving your windows open.  A home energy inspector should be able to tell you where your home is lacking insulation along with many other tips and look at your home as a system instead of individual pieces.

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