The Department of Energy recently released a few tips to help homeowners save on their energy bill this spring.
We're passing along a handful of the tips, which you can ready in their entirety at the DOE website.
As we adjust to the rising temperatures, energy-savings starts with keeping a hand off the thermostat. There's no need (yet) for the AC - just open the right windows and let mother nature cool that heated home.
When the mercury does start to get out of hand, use energy-efficient ceiling and portable fans. They can cool the air (perceptually) by 10 degrees. The longer you can refrain from cranking up the AC, the better that energy bill is going to look.
Shut off the lights! 90% of the energy used to light an incandescent bulb gets turned into heat. Let the natural light into the home throughout the day. Better yet, swap out those archaic bulbs for some CFL or LED lights -- they run cooler AND save $$$. (Read more on switching out your light bulbs to keep up with the times.)
It should come as no surprise that the future of home control comes from the same mind that created the iPod. Tony Fadell's Nest is redefining home control, much like the iPod and the iPhone have redefined our connection to music, the internet and the connected world.
Nest came about as Fadell was tackling his dream home project and growing frustrated by the lack of home control options on the market that were smartphone app-ready. Balking in the face of $500 HVAC control that were clunky and unresponsive, he and software developer Matt Rogers cofounded Nest and released a digital thermostat of the same name in October of 2011.
With Nest's second generation thermostat now on the market (it became available in October 2012), the company is getting some high praise for a device whose round design is a throwback (deliberate or not) to the analog thermostats of old.
Nest is light years ahead of any competition in the space. The simplified design features a knob you can turn to adjust the temperature and a display. That's it. No up or down arrows. No "program" or "end of day" buttons to click and hold and fiddle with to set programs and schedules. That's what the app is for.
That's if you need to do any setting at all. The best part of Nest is that it "learns" the occupants' schedules within a few days of installation and will start automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly. It can also detect when the house is empty, and will lower the temperature then, too.
Preliminary estimates suggest Nest has already save owners from using 225 million kilowatt-hours of energy -- or $29 million in energy costs.
Are you looking to make some positive changes around the home in 2013? Why not start here?
1) Stay Organized. Was 2012 a year of accumulation? You're not alone. Our consumptive society values materialism but doesn't seem to encourage making space for the new acquisitions. The result is a home better fit for Hoarders than for Beautiful Homes. But we want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, so we're offering these de-cluttering tips for 2013.
2) Lower Bills. No beating around the bush. Your home has a leak. An energy leak. All that hot air is escaping, and it might as well be dollar signs. Take these 4 steps in the first month of January and use the money you save to do something nice for your family.
Get an Energy Audit. This will ultimately save you significant time and will give you the best information on where you should be addressing leaks, cracks and energy loss locations.
Add some more Insulation. Specifically, insulate your water heater, your pipes and attic spaces. There's heat being lost in those areas all winter long, and only you can put an end to it!
3) Be Handy (er). You can do it! Pick up a hammer. Rev that drill a couple times. Okay, now put them both down and come back to the computer. We're going to give you 3 DIY projects that will set you down a path of empowerment and home improvement. If you've done all 3, good for you! Are you available Sunday? We're putting up drywall.
Install a Below-Counter Water Filter. There are very few tools and steps involved in this one. In fact, a sharp mind could probably just follow the instructions and get 'er done. But the visual tutorial can help, too. Bonus: you get to help the planet by eliminating bottle water in your home!
Inspect and Repair your Gutters. In truth, this project isn't that difficult. But the height factor makes it deserving of a more moderate rating. Whatever you, practice safe ladder climbing and consider doing this one with a partner.
Install Crown Molding. This projects can frustrate even the experienced, so take is slow, forgive yourself for little mistakes, and measure twice!
Have you made some improvements already? Tell us about them!
In response to the growing complaints by property owners against Big Oil and Gas for inadequately compensating them for drilling on their land, Environmentalist Attorney Stuart Smith of Smith Stag LLC, is launching a nationwide website about mineral royalties fraud.
Complaints include underpaying for oil and gas extracted as well as drilling underneath lands from properties next door without obtaining the rights.
The website -- www.Mineralroyaltiesfraud.com -- explains the problems facing property owners and answers some frequently asked questions about dealing with the Big Oil and Gas companies. It also provides an online form for free case evaluation.
To date, mineral properties fraud has taken a back seat to the environmental risks posed by the tracking boom in this country. The website seeks to bring this concurrent issue into the public eye to keep energy companies adhering to the laws and paying their fair share.
Have you been involved in a mineral royalties fraud situation? Tell us about it!
Heliatek GmbH, an organic photovoltaics company, just announced that its transparent solar films can be integrated between the glass sheets of double glazed windows to generate electricity for a building.
Although the technology will likely first be used in commercial buildings, there's no counting it out for residential application down the road.
The solar film's transparency and color can be tweaked to suit a customer's needs, while currently the light transmission level of the material is said to have a potential of 50% when the product will start being supplied to the building industry in 2014.
This kind of technology will make it possible to include solar power in a home without the need for an external structure like a panel array on the rooftop or lawn. The low light capabilities of the solar films are such that the orientation and angle of the film is not important and it can keep up its level of efficiency even in cloudy or north-facing situations.
Pretty cool technology. Let's see if it makes its way into the home in the years to come!
The Department of Energy's recent blog entry on saving energy at home during the summer lists some timely tips on keeping utility costs low as the temperatures get high.
The top step is one that we at Renovate Your World have preached many times. The DOE encourages all readers to install a Programmable Thermostat, stating that it can save up to $150 a year on energy costs. The key in the summer months is to program the thermostat to turn off the cooling when there are no occupants in the home.
On a related note, the DOE suggests placing lamps or TVs away from the thermostat, as the heat put off by those devices can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary. Good tip, that one!
The other tip worth noting concerned the home's duct system. According to the DOE, the average household loses about 20 percent of heating and cooling through the duct system. Having the ducts inspected, sealed and insulated can save money.