How to Save on Energy Costs When Hosting Guests this Holiday Season

If you’ve ever hosted guests in your home for an extended period of time then you know that this can start to take a toll on your energy bills. With the holiday season in full swing, many homeowners have plans to host guests over a long holiday weekend or even just have friends and family over for dinner or a party. Below, we’ll offer some energy-saving tips that you can use to cut down on energy costs while you’re having fun with your loved ones.

Energy-Saving Tips for Hosting Holiday Guests

Whether you have guests staying in your home for the holidays or you plan on having a dinner party, the holiday season can be a time of high energy usage. Use the tips below to save on energy costs during the holidays.

Adjust the temperature and lighting once your guests arrive.

If you are hosting a party or having loved ones over for dinner, you can adjust the temperature and lighting to save more energy during the festivities. More bodies in the room means more heat. Not to mention, your home starts to heat up if you have been cooking all day. This is the perfect time to adjust your thermostat and save some energy. Once guests start to arrive, turn the thermostat down a bit to take advantage of the energy savings.

You can also adjust the lighting in your home to save energy when entertaining guests. If you have the holiday lights on, consider turning off other lights in your home that are not being used to better enjoy the holiday decorations. You may also opt for candles or other, more energy-efficient lighting that will help you save more energy while hosting guests.

Cook more efficiently.

If you are planning on making dinner for your guests, you can save energy by trying to cook more efficiently. Here are just a few ways that you can save energy while preparing holiday meals:

  • Don’t open the oven door to look at what’s baking inside as this lowers the temperature inside, which can increase cook times and waste energy. If you have to look, turn on the oven light and check through the window.
  • Try to cook several items at the same time. This cuts down on the amount of time that you need to have your oven on throughout the day, helping you save energy.
  • Clean your burners and reflectors before you start cooking. This provides better heating which can save energy and cut down energy costs.
  • Use other, more energy efficient appliances when possible. Don’t forget your microwave. This appliance not only cooks quickly, but it also uses about 50% less energy than the conventional oven, so utilize it when you can.

Need to make sure that your HVAC system is working efficiently before your guests arrive? Call the HVAC experts at Air Conditioning Systems for an annual maintenance visit to make sure you all will stay comfortable this holiday season: (925) 270-1613.

Estimating The Cost Of Solar Power Installation

Harnessing solar energy could be the wave of the future and it’s certainly trendy in some parts of the world. If your energy costs are currently low, it might not seem like a good investment. But home owners have to look beyond today’s costs to determine far more than installation costs for solar systems.

Installing the Right System

Consider how much electricity you use then install the correct system for those needs. If this is your main residence, you might want to add a generator or use mains power for some purposes. Propane is another option. Solar power can be used to run your entire house, however, if you do your calculations properly.

 

Future Sales Value

Your home goes up in value whenever you add a solar system, especially solar thermal collectors. These are more efficient than PV solar panels although the PV system is better known. The less intrusive your system will be, the more it adds to the look and value of your home. Consider installing roof tiles which will collect water and use the sun to heat it before you turn on the hot water for a shower or to clean dishes.

 

Sun Exposure

The job of harnessing solar power becomes more complicated and costly when your exposure is north facing. South or southwest exposure with a clear view of the sun for several hours of the day is ideal. You do not want to be cutting down trees for access: that is not environmentally friendly at all. Poles and raised systems on the roof or pivoting, computer controlled units will help you get the most out of the sun’s rays all day and all year.

 

Tax Breaks

Remember that there are tax breaks in some states to encourage home owners to install PV and thermal collectors. Find out more about what your government has to offer.

 

Solar Power Installation Cost Estimate

With all of these figures you can now estimate the cost of your installation. An efficient set up is going to still cost the same amount as an inefficient one in many instances but will save you more in energy bills and as a selling feature of the home later on. Follow our articles for more ideas about solar installations and how to save money.

How Much Solar Energy Can A Solar Panel System Produce In My Home?

 

The amount of electricity a solar panel can produce is dependent on three main things. These are panel size, the amount of sunlight it’s exposed to and the efficiency of the internal solar cells. Here, we’ll illustrate solar energy production from a typical panel, as well as the comparison between power output versus power required to power an average home.

 

 

Maximum Power Rating Meaning

Solar panels come with a number (usually at the back) that indicates the amount of power they’ll yield in ideal conditions. This is known as the maximum power rating. The panels are usually lab-tested using ‘peak sun’, which is about one kilowatt of sunlight for each square meter of the surface. This equates to the sun’s power at midday, at the equator during a sunny day.

Working out Solar Panel Output for Particular Locations

Since you most likely don’t reside around the equator, your roof’s  sunlight exposure will be different.  This varies with the time of day, weather and season. The maximum power rating is therefore not applicable when trying to predict how much power can be obtained from a solar panel.

Nevertheless, one can do some calculations to get an idea of how a panel will work in their area. There are sites where one can input their address to get specific details about the amount of sunlight that hits their house on average. This also provides the option of entering a particular model of solar panel and its square footage of the panel coverage on their roof.

Power Rating of an Average Panel

Most solar panels will produce about 200W. This could vary, depending on the size and efficiency of the panel. Highly efficient models are usually expensive, and are only necessary for those whose roofs offer limited space. We can work with you to determine how much power you’ll need and the size of the panel to meet the requirements.

Power Consumption

The average house consumes about 958 KWh a month. This varies according to location and season. Most of the power is consumed at night, with the exception of households where people continuously inhabit/work in the house during the day.

Solar panels only generate power during the day. Though batteries can be used for storage, an easier and cheaper option is to remain connected to the grid. If the panels produce more energy than is used, the power flows back to the grid. In most places, utility companies offer net metering, a program that compensates for the extra power that one produces. With such a system, one doesn’t have to worry about energy needs.

Follow our blog for more information on heating, cooling, and keeping your home energy efficient.

What Is SEER And EER Rating?

When going shopping for air conditioners, you will often come across SEER and EER rating. Most people have no idea what this means, and will often end up buying the first air conditioning unit they come across. SEER and EER rating are the measurements of an air conditioner’s energy efficiency. With a higher EER or SEER ratings, your unit reduces utility bills and serves you well for an extended period of time. When buying air conditioners, it is important that you understand what these terms mean and how they affect you as the consumer.

What are SEER and EER Ratings?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, and is used to measure an air conditioner’s energy efficiency for a season, at varying temperatures. Temperatures ranging from 65 to 104°F are taken into account when calculating energy efficiency of various air conditioners.

EER stands for Energy Efficiency Ratio and is used to measure energy efficiency under particular sets of conditions. To get the EER rating of an air conditioner, you’ll have to divide electrical power (watts) by cooling (BTU). EER is calculated under the following conditions; 80°F indoor temperature and 95°F outdoor temperature.

What Rating Should I Look Out For?

If you live in a country with temperatures rising up to 95°F and above, your air conditioner is likely to remain on. For this reason, checking for EER rating will give you more accurate results. If you come from regions with moderate temperatures, then you should look for SEER rating of the air conditioner.

Some air conditioners will display both the SEER and EER rating, while others will only display the SEER rating. When comparing two air conditioners, make sure you compare the same measurements between the two. For instance, if you are checking the SEER rating of one unit, then you should check the same for the second unit. Comparing the SEER rating of one unit and the EER of the next one won’t give you accurate results.

If you want to buy an air conditioner and you are unsure of what to buy as far as SEER and EER rating is concerned, then feel free to call us to learn more about efficient heating and air conditioning options.

Reducing Winter Energy Costs

As the temperatures fall, along with the colorful leaves, many Americans are reaching for their coats and their thermostats. We rely on several different types of heat to keep our homes warm during the winter months. This heat allows us to feel comfortable in our own homes, no matter how low the outdoor temperatures may go. However, sometimes the cost of running the heat in our home can get a slightly absurd, or even burdensome for many families. If your goal this season is winter electricity reduction, there are several steps you can take to help reduce the amount of energy you use, thus reducing your energy bills. These tips can help you reduce energy cost in winter.

Seal and Insulate
Think of your home as a giant envelope. If the edges of the envelope are not properly sealed, air can get out and in. This means that the walls, windows, doors, floors, and ceilings in your home can be areas where warm air escapes, causing your furnace to work harder to keep your home warm, and raising your heating bills. Adding insulation and checking the sealants in your home can reduce your energy costs and keep your home warmer by not wasting the hot air that is produced.

Focus on Certain Areas of the Home
Use the heat that is produced in your home wisely. Most people can identify two or three areas of the home where occupants spend the most time. Usually this is a bedroom, kitchen, or the living room. Attempting to direct heat to these main living areas can help reduce the cost of heating the rooms or areas that people spend little or no time in. Close off the air duct covers in rooms or closets where little or no time is spent during the winter.

Use Natural Heat
You can also put the sun to work for you to reduce your heating costs. Open the blinds and curtains of windows that get the most sunlight. The sunlight produces enough heat that it can increase temperature of your home by several degrees.

Follow these tips to provide energy and money savings for your family during the winter months. For more help in reducing your winter energy costs, call us today to learn more about energy savings.

Proposed Changes For Higher HVAC Efficiency Standards

Many people are unaware of the proposed changes the Department of Energy tried to implement back in 2013. While they began working on new higher minimum requirements for HVAC efficiency in 2009, the changes were to be made effective in 2013. Unfortunately, this plan to decrease energy consumption ran into a few obstacles which resulted in a court delay for implementation of the new HVAC efficiency standards.

Basically, in order to reach the proposed AFUE or annual fuel utilization efficiency of 90 that the DOE was striving for, homeowners would need to install a condensing furnace in their home. The higher fuel efficiency of the condensing furnace would be the only combustible heating equipment capable of achieving the required level of HVAC efficiency.

The problem with the new requirements is that it would put many families in a very difficult financial position. While there would be the benefits of increased energy efficiency, retrofitting homes to meet these requirements would ultimately be very complicated and costly. A condensing furnace would require extensive retrofitting in an effort to make use of the two separate heat exchangers.

Most homes are equipped to handle the installation of a traditional heating system; however, with the condensing furnace, a second heat exchanger is necessary to capture and condense the hot water vapor which is created during the use of a combustible heating system. Rather than exhaust this wasted energy out of the home, the condensing furnace is able to capture it and use it to provide a more efficient way to heat the home.

There is certainly no doubt that a condensing furnace can meet the higher AFUE standards for increased HVAC efficiency, but it can also require a financial burden for the homeowner who must pay for extensive retrofitting and installation costs. Due to these problems, the HVAC industry was able to successfully argue against implementation of these higher standards, at this time. With a delay in implementation, homeowners still have an opportunity to increase the efficiency of their HVAC system.

Whether you need fast HVAC repairs or you want to discuss the benefits of a new high efficiency furnace or air conditioner, your local HVAC contractor can help. Give them a call today.