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Building Science by Norman Aceron Garcia

Save energy & money in your home

by Norman Aceron Garcia

nachiSignificant savings in gas and electricity bills can be achieved through very easy changes, most of which you can do yourselves. Making your home more energy efficient saves money, increases the comfort level indoors, reduces our impact on climate change and reduces pollution.

1. Alter the way you do laundry

Wait until you have a full load of clothes in the washer, as the medium setting only saves less than half of the water and energy used than a full load. Don’t use high-temperature settings unless the clothes are very soiled. Remove the lint in the lint trap before you use the dryer because excess lint is a fire hazard and lengthens the time required for the clothes to dry.

2. Smart cooking

Use convection ovens rather than conventional ovens because it uses fans to compel hot air to flow more consistently, thus allowing food to be cooked at a lower temperature. Microwave ovens consume 80 per cent less energy than conventional ovens. Pans must be placed over matching size heating element or flame.

3. Insulating windows and doors

Use rope caulk to seal all window edges and cracks. Windows can be weather-stripped with a special lining that is installed between the frame and the window. Repair or replace windows that have cracked glass, missing putty, inoperable locks, rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, and inadequately fitting sashes.

4. Install daylighting

Take advantage of natural light to illuminate the home’s interior by installing daylighting systems such as skylights, light shelves, and clerestory windows. Skylights should be double-pane to be cost-effective. Light shelves are reflexive devices intended to rebound light deep into the building. Clerestory windows are short and wide windows constructed high on the wall that lets sun during winter to shine through for warmth and natural lighting.

5. Responsible use of appliances and electronics

Purchase appliances and electronics with efficient Energy Star ratings. Freezers and fridges should not be exposed to direct sunlight or situated near heat vents, dishwasher or stove. Laptop computers consume significantly less electricity than desktop computers. Cellphone and laptop chargers consume energy when they are plugged in and must be unplugged when not in use.

6. Installing efficient plumbing fixtures

You can save about 45,000 liters of water annually by using modern, low-flow 1.6-gallon toilet to replace an older 3.5-gallon toilet. Dual-flush toilets allow you to opt between a 1-gallon flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Vacuum-assist toilets have a vacuum chamber that utilizes siphon action to suck air from the bowl trap, letting it to rapidly fill with water to flush waste.

7. Sealing and insulating

Seal and insulate leakages that may occur at electrical receptacles/outlets, mail slots, around pipes and wires, wall or window-mounted air conditioners, attic hatches, fireplace dampers, inadequate weather-stripping around doors, baseboards, window frames, and switch plates.

8. Use LED and CFL bulbs

Approximately 11 per cent of the home’s energy budget is allotted to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert only 10 per cent of the energy they consume into light, while the rest get dissipated as heat. Replacing them with new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), you can reduce the lighting energy requirement by about 50 to 75 per cent.

9. Install tankless water heater

Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide savings in energy costs because it gives hot water only when needed. This type of water heater doesn’t generate the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank.

10. Other efficient ways to heat and cool your house

Install a ceiling and/or standalone fans in place of air conditioners that require a huge amount of energy. Regularly replace air filters in furnaces and air conditioners. Install a programmable thermostat as it saves money by automatically turning off HVAC appliances down during low demands. During night, draw curtains over windows to better insulate the room.

Norman Aceron Garcia is a registered Professional Engineer and a Certified Property Inspector of Mr. Peg Property Inspections Inc. Please visit for more information on home inspection, building science and home maintenance tips.

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