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Home Improvements

Add dimmers to your lamps and light circuits"I don't think so Tim."
The less power you supply to your lights, the more money you’ll save on your electric bill.  Dimmers permit you to adjust the brightness of your lights according to your needs by reducing the flow of electricity.  It’s easy to replace a wall switch with a dimmer or add one to a lamp cord.

Paint your walls light colors
Whites, off-whites, and pastels reflect light better than darker tones.  After repainting, you may be able to swap 75-watt bulbs for 100-watt bulbs in many lamps, and knock 25 percent off the cost of using each one.

Regulate electric devices with automatic timers
To control the electricity consumed by such items as bathroom heat lamps, ceiling and attic fans, spa jets, as well as pool pumps and heaters, install timer switches for these items to turn them on and off at set times of the day.

Install motion detectors, timers, or photoelectric sensors on outdoor lighting
If you often forget to turn off outdoor lights during the day, you can save money on your electric bill by turning them on and off automatically.  For example, if you install a timer on a circuit, you can set it to turn lights on as you go to bed and off when you wake up in the morning.  Or replace an ordinary outdoor floodlight fixture with one that has a motion detector; it turns the lights on when it senses movement, then off again after an adjustable interval.  To keep lights from coming on before dusk, add a photoelectric sensor to the circuit.

Vent the attic
A ridge vent installed along the roof peak lets hot airescape from the attic while cooler airr is drawn in through air vents in the eaves or soffits.  This may be a job for a professional roofer, but the energy savings may well offset the expense.

Repaint with energy savings in mind
Choosing the right paint color for your exterior walls can play a role in your energy-saving strategy.  For example, walls painted or stained a dark tone absorb 70 to 90 percent of radiant energy from the sun, a good choice in regions with harsh winters and mild summers.  Lighter colors, which reflect heat, are more suitable for brutally hot summers and moderate winters.

A lighter or darker colored roof could save you money
When the time comes to replace an asphalt-shingle roof, your choice of color can affect your energy bill.  In mostly warm, sunny regions, a light-colored roof that reflects heat is the best choice.  If you have long, cold winters, consider a dark roof to absorb heat from the sun.  The right choice can save up to 10 percent on energy costs.

Stop heat loss by recessed lighting
Light fixtures set into an upstairs ceiling often waste heat by leaking it into the attic.  To prevent this loss, you can insulate the fixtures from above, although doing so may be practical only in an attic without a floor.  Before proceeding, confirm that the fixture label is marked designed for direct insulation contact.  You can lay insulation right up against such fixtures.  With units that are not rated, this technique creates a fire hazard.

Insulate the water heater
If your heater feels hot or even merely warm to the touch, it’s wasting energy through heat transfer.  Although modern ceramic or glass-lined heaters have some built-in insulation, you can decrease heat loss by wrapping a closely fitting insulation blanket around the water heater. 

Install low-flow faucet aerators
Faucet aerators mix air with the stream of water to reduce volume without significantly lowering pressure.  Low flow models available for the bathroom limit volume to as little as 1 gallon per minute.  Similar aerators for the kitchen are typically set at 2.5 gallons per minute.  Replacing your present aerator with a low-flow model takes about five minutes.

Replace old showerheads with newer, low-flow models
For new homes, plumbing codes now require showerheads that deliver no more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, enough for an adequate spray.  Low-flow showerheads can save a typical family of four around 15,000 gallons of hot water a year.  That comes to about $75 annually if you heat water with gas and $150 if you have an electric heater.  You save even more if you live where energy prices are high.  These simple devices can pay for themselves in about a month, especially if you install them yourself. Make sure to properly dispose of your old fixtures, locate a recycling company near you.

Install a programmable thermostat
The multiple settings of a programmable thermostat can cut your heating and cooling costs by up to one-third.  These energy-conserving devices connect to existing thermostat wiring.  They can automatically adjust heating and cooling temperatures as many as six times a day, with different profiles for weekdays and weekends.
Program the thermostat to provide a comfortable temperature when you are at home and a more economical temperature when you are away.  If you wish, you can temporarily override the program, and then revert to it later.
A heat pump requires a special programmable thermostat that raises the setting in several small steps instead of a single big one.  This approach minimizes the use of the unit’s back up heat source, often costly to run electric heating elements.

Put an instant water heater in your kitchen
If you often need small amounts of hot water for cooking or washing, consider installing an instant heater next to the kitchen sink.  Because it eliminates the need to run hot water through the entire supply line, this compact, electrically powered unit is especially economical if your kitchen is some distance from the main water heater.

Convert to a tankless water heating system
When replacing your water heater, consider a tankless system, which heats water on demand instead of storing many gallons of it at the ready.  Smaller units can serve a bathroom or kitchen; larger units are capable of supplying hot water to an entire dwelling.  When a hot water valve is opened, a tankless unit instantly heats the water flowing through it at rates up to 3 gallons per minute.  Because water is heated only when it is needed, a tankless system can cut water heating costs by as much as 60 percent over the long term, even though it costs more to buy than a conventional heater.
Tankless heaters are ideally suited to small apartments or condominiums.  In a house with multiple bathrooms, even a large-capacity system may falter when asked to supply hot water for a couple of showers, plus the dishwasher and clothes washer all at the same time.  One solution is to stagger hot-water demand.  Another is to install a smaller unit near each point of use.

Install a geothermal heating system. Locate geothermal companies online here.

E-mail CES Philadelphia at: jcarroll@savewithces.com


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