Green Q&A: Cutting Costs by Conserving Energy at Home

Posted by Trish Riley, July 12, 2009
Photo by Rachel Rector

Dear Trish,

I have heard that the best way to save energy is by only using your airco when you really need it. Isn’t that true?

Not quite. When you delay turning on the air conditioner until it’s sweltering, your equipment runs harder and longer to cool the place down. That’s why energy experts suggest using a programmable thermostat that will help keep the house at an even temperature when you’re there, and keep it warmer, but not let it get really hot, during the times of day when no one is home.

Getting used to temperatures about five degrees warmer in summer and five degrees lower in winter than you’d normally choose will save you about 20 percent on your annual cooling bill. Remember to close drapes on summer days to keep the heat out of the house, and when it’s time for a new roof, select the lightest color shingles to reflect heat rather than absorb it. Metal roofs are becoming more popular because they tend to reflect heat, they’re not made from oil-based asphalt and they last for decades longer than shingles.  If you install a radiant foil barrier under the surface of your roof, you can deflect as much as 95 percent of the heat in summer and help keep it in the house in the winter.

When it comes to heat, you can also reduce your energy cost by using space heaters if your family will be in a particular area much of the time, instead of heating the whole house when many rooms aren’t being used. Weatherizing your home with additional insulation and sealing drafty windows and doors can dramatically increase your efficiency and lower your heating and cooling costs.

Keep cool and help save energy – the less we use, the more we can rely on truly renewable energy: solar and wind.