Have you done all the usual things to lower your home energy bills, but they are still too high? Here are some unusual things to do that will result in lowering your bills.
Look at government research. Several federal agencies are researching ways to reduce fuel consumption and save energy. America’s high demand for energy and dependence on foreign sources of non-renewable fuels gives the government a strong incentive to help consumers find ways to reduce usage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) sponsor the Energy Star program, which evaluates the efficiency of appliances and equipment that we use in our homes and businesses. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC), programmable thermostats, washing machines and water heaters are among the appliances rated by Energy Star.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) studies building technologies, including materials, energy usage, conservation and efficient lighting. They provide consumer information and recommendations about energy-efficient practices for new construction, renovation of existing buildings, cool roofs, insulation, low-wattage light bulbs and efficient appliances.
Plant trees and grass. Landscaping can dramatically reduce solar gain during summer months and increase the effects of the sun’s warmth during winter months. Using local plants that are suitable for your area can reduce both water usage and heating and air-conditioning costs. Trees provide shade, which helps lower roof temperatures; temperatures on exposed roofs during the summer often exceed 145 degrees. Trees that lose their leaves in winter allow solar gain to help warm the building. Low-growing plants, vines and trellises reduce ground temperatures by shading pavement, earth and walls around a home. Vegetation can lower air temperature around a building by up to 9 degrees.
Cook at night or early morning during hotter months to reduce the load on an air-conditioning system. Eating cool foods like cold soups and salads not only reduces heat generated by cooking, but enhances nutrition. Set up a summer kitchen, like farms had in the early twentieth century, to cook and bake outdoors. Portable ovens, grills and camp stoves can be used in outdoor cooking stations.
Use reflective roof materials. The temperature of a roof can reach 165 degrees during summer months in some climates. Roofs that are coated with reflective materials or use cool-colored clay or concrete tiles reduce roof temperatures by up to 60 degrees during summer months. Roofs transfer reflective heat to surfaces below, resulting in high attic temperatures. Radiant heat passes through insulation, heating surfaces in the living space as well. The Energy Star program rates roof materials that meet minimum solar reflectance standards.
Use solar equipment and appliances when possible. Although converting a residence to solar power can be expensive, solar equipment like outdoor lighting, pool covers and heaters, ovens and cookers are easy to install and provide an alternative to conventional energy. You can make your own solar cooker. Solar ovens reach temperatures between 250 and 300 degrees, enough to cook food and boil water. Popular with campers, solar ovens can also be set up in a back yard that receives adequate light to power the unit.
Outdoor solar lights contain solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity. Units must be placed in a location that gets adequate sunlight during the day to provide enough stored power to run throughout the night.
Solar pool covers use ultraviolet light to heat pool water, eliminating or reducing the need for electric or gas heating. Covers retard evaporation, a major source of energy loss. Covers also reduce chemical usage by 35 to 60 percent.
Change providers. Many states have deregulated electrical utilities, giving consumers the option of changing providers. By changing to Plymouth Rock Energy, your bill can be lowered as much as 10 percent. We provide electricity and natural gas to homes and residences, and natural gas, electricity and fuel oil to commercial users. There are no fees involved; simply call us to make the change. Your services will not be interrupted, nor require alternative delivery routes. Your energy is delivered through the grid already established by public providers. Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for your convenience. You can also lock in rates, so that if rates rise, yours will not increase.
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