How to be energy efficient and save money as the heat rises - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

How to be energy efficient and save money as the heat rises

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(ARA) - With temperatures - and therefore, electric bills - rising, American homeowners are looking for the most effective ways to make the biggest dent in their energy bills, but many may be overlooking some of the most important energy-saving strategies.

Homeowners are more likely to do simple things around the house to conserve energy, according to the Lennox Home Energy Report Card Survey. These steps include changing air filters in a heating and cooling system on a regular basis, swapping out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and turning down the temperature setting on a hot water heater.

While these activities can certainly help save energy and money, Brandon Chase, an energy efficiency expert and product development manager at home heating and cooling manufacturer Lennox, says homeowners need to take a close look at how they heat and cool their homes if they truly want to make a substantial dent in their energy bills.

"More than half of a home's energy costs comes from heating and cooling the house," says Chase. "If you can heat or cool your home more efficiently, then you'll be well on your way to seeing lower energy bills."

The first step is to have a professional evaluate the age, performance and efficiency of your heating and cooling system to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced. The Lennox survey found that only about half of homeowners have taken the proactive step of replacing an old, inefficient heating and cooling system with a new, energy-efficient model, yet doing so can dramatically help conserve energy and reduce utility bills.

Chase says if the air conditioning system is more than 10 years old or the furnace is more than 15 years old - the average life spans of cooling and heating units - then it's time to consider replacing the aging system with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified system.

New energy-saving technologies

Significant advances in energy-efficient technologies have recently enabled homeowners to save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. One example is the SunSource Home Energy System - a solar-powered central heating and cooling system - that uses energy from the sun, collected from roof-mounted solar modules, to reduce the electricity consumed by a high-efficiency heat pump or air conditioner.

When the SunSource heating and cooling system is not in use, the solar energy can operate other appliances and electronics. Any excess energy that's not needed is sent back to the utility company, possibly entitling the homeowner to a credit on their utility bill.

Other energy-efficient ways to cool and heat a home

In addition to replacing an old heating and cooling system, Chase says there are a number of other ways to make heating and cooling your home more efficient. He offers the following energy-saving advice:

* Seal cracks around windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping to prevent indoor air from escaping.

* Keep blinds, shades and curtains closed during the day in the summer to block sunlight from entering the home, but open them up in the winter to naturally warm the house.

* Install a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature at certain times of the day, automatically regulating the temperature when you're away.

* Add extra insulation to the attic, which will help prevent your home's heating and cooling system from having to work harder to regulate the indoor temperature.

For more energy-saving tips, visit www.lennox.com.

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