So the price of gas is hovering near $4.00 a gallon again. Have you noticed a change in your driving habits? More people are choosing to stay home over driving long distances for vacation. They’re also combining trips to multiple locations to get more things done all at once and if they forget to stop at one, well maybe it wasn’t that important. Even here in Atlanta where a group of 10 people will drive in 10 separate cars to go somewhere, car pooling is becoming more of a viable option. So how can this teach us how to conserve energy at home?
Well first off, when gas prices go through the roof, people tend to make sure their car is working properly so they get the best gas mileage they can. Whether that’s making sure the oil gets changed, the fuel systems are clean, or checking for adequate tire pressure, these can all effect gas mileage. By the same token, making sure the HVAC systems are clean, sealed, and operating at full capacity, checking that insulation is at proper levels, and reducing air infiltration can greatly increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Next, as I mentioned above, people tend to change their driving habits when it costs more to drive. Combining trips, car pooling, and simply slowing down saves on the cost of fuel. Adopting similar habits in the home can do the same thing. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. If you have multiple HVAC systems, turn the ones in the areas you are not using up (or down in the winter). Even better, install programmable thermostats (and actually take the time to program them) so you don’t have to even think about it. Do you have any idea how much electricity a large flat screen and a Playstation3 or Xbox 360 use? Go outside and play!
Another way to save energy is to actually know how much energy you are consuming at any given time. There are many new products that can give homeowners real time energy consumption and cost numbers. Some of them even come with an app for smart phones. Imagine getting a phone call at home from your significant other asking you if you forgot to turn off some of the lights or turn up the A/C temp. If that doesn’t make you more energy conscious, then you can forget about the suggestions listed above ever happening.
Starting off with an energy audit on a home would be just like taking the car to the mechanic for preventative maintenance. Getting a much needed tune up will help the house cruise through another cooling or heating season on the least amount of fuel (energy) necessary. We can’t stop driving all together, but we can do things to improve gas mileage and reduce trip lengths. We can’t stop heating and cooling our homes, but we can do things to increase its overall energy efficiency so the air we’re paying to heat and cool stays in the home. Remember, don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper!