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Guest Blog: Summer Energy Efficiency Tips

by Les Lazareck, Home Energy Connection

 

As we plunge deeper into summer, many Nevadans are experiencing higher utility bills. Here are some tips to help you conserve energy and conserve funds. 

Lighting: Replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that 11 percent of the average small business or home’s electrical usage goes to lighting. LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy, last 25 times longer, and also do not produce the heat that incandescent bulbs do, reducing your cooling load. LEDs have also dramatically dropped in price in recent years, with some being only $3-4 per bulb. 

Thermostat: Typically 30-50 percent of your energy bill will go to air conditioning this summer. Setting to 78-80ºF when home and 5-8º warmer when away will provide savings for mosthomes. NV Energy offers free Smart Thermostats that can be programmed and operated via a smartphone app to help you save money and manage your energy usage. Sign up at NVEnergy.com/powershift

Air Conditioning Maintenance: Improve system efficiency, airflow and comfort by keeping air filters clean and using MERV 6 or 8 filters. If you feel air blowing under your closed bedroom doors, keep the door ajar, trim the bottom of the door, or install a transfer grille. If your system is not delivering cold air or constantly running, schedule an NV Energy PowerShift tune-up. 

Ceiling and Room Fans: It’s a common myth that your ceiling fan will reduce the temperature of a room. Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect. Turn them off when you leave. 

Passive Cooling: Be sure to close blinds and drapes during the day. These can reduce heat gain in your space by up to 45 percent. Also consider planting deciduous trees to shade exposed windows. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy website for more ideas regarding energy efficient window treatments.

Pool Pumps: Every pool has a different combination of size, exposure, use and pump horsepower. Optimize a single speed pump by reducing its run time by 30-60 minutes. Monitor your pool over the next 7-10 days, and if the pool stays clean,continue with this reduced runtime. Otherwise, replace it with a calibrated variable speed pool pump. The typical savings payback on this investment is 2 years. Also, do not run the pump between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to reduce evaporation and avoid peak electricity load times.

Water heaters: Set it to 120ºF. If you’re using a recirculation pump, use the timer to run pump only during typical demand, e.g. morning showers. Turn off the breaker for electric models when you’re away for more than two days.

Refrigerators: Clean the coils twice per year and set temperatures to 37-40ºF; freezers set to 0º. Replace appliances using more than 900 kilowatt hours per year with ENERGY STAR models.

Attic: Air seal connections to your attic to prevent hot air to flow into your home along with dust: e.g. recessed lights, supply registers, smoke detectors and attic access. Make sure to insulate!

Fireplaces: Turn the gas pilot off and close the damper. Install a chimney balloon if the damper does not seal well or is rarely used.

 

About Les Lazareck:
Les Lazareck is a residential Home Performance Expert who as the original Program Manager established Nevada's Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, HomeFree Nevada. He is a certified home energy rater (HERS) through RESNET, certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst, Envelope and AC Heat Pump Professional trainer and proctor, Certified National Green Building Verifier (NAHB), owner of Home Energy Connection, LLC and a founding member and past Board Member of Solar NV, the local chapter of the American Solar Energy Society and Nevada Building Performance Professional. Les Lazareck earned his Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, focusing on alternative energy design. Applying his knowledge in residential home performance, Mr. Lazareck's production home is now a net zero electric home.

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