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6 Home Energy Savers At No Cost

Living in the hot South during the summer with the air conditioning system running all the time can get really expensive . Did you know there are many home energy savers which you can implement at almost no cost at all? And no, turning off the light when you leave a room is not one of them.

6 Home Energy Savers You Can Apply Today

1. Take a Look at Your Hallway
Are all doors closed or open? Your air conditioning system works most efficiently if you leave the doors open. Leaving the doors open to the hallway is the best way to open up the air flow in the home.

2. Check your freezer
Is it full? Freezers work best if they are full. If you only have a few items you should use them as soon as possible and unplug the appliance. You could also fill up your freezer by stocking up on deals at a bulk sales store.

Free Home Energy Savers 3. Go to your laundry room
Do you usually wash your clothes in hot or cold water? Washing your clothes in cold water is not only better for fabrics but it lowers your electric bill. Additionally, hanging them out to dry instead of using a dryer every time saves a ton of energy.

4. Walk around your house
Are there many appliances which stay plugged in all the time? A toaster oven, a coffee maker, a TV in a guest room when there are no guests? Save yourself some money and unplug everything that’s not in use.

5. Check out your front porch
There’s nothing more welcoming for a family member coming home than a porch light on. However, leaving the light on all night can quickly make your energy bill very unwelcome. Motion detection lights are great home energy savers making light available only when needed.

6. Take a look at your yard
Are there a lot of trees growing around your house? Trees are great home energy savers because they block bright sunlight all summer and hold in warmth during the winter. You can become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation and get some trees for free.

If you know of any more free home energy savers leave us a comment below!

If you have any questions about making your home more energy efficient give Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. a call at 843-497-9867. Remember to grab our 20% off coupon on your next service call by Liking us on Facebook.

Get Ready For That Dreaded January Electric Bill

Your January electric bill is sure to be a shock due to all the cold weather we had.Have you gotten your January electric bill yet? If not, brace yourself. The extremely cold weather we had during January, coupled with the fact that it stayed cold for a longer period than usual, is causing everyone to have a much higher than normal January electric bill.

Not only have heating systems been working overtime to keep everyone’s home warm, but other everyday energy hogs continue to run, adding to the hit you’ll see on that January electric bill.

Energy is the only product we buy and use on a daily basis where we have no idea how much we actually pay for it. It would be different if we had to feed dollars into a machine to make the power run in our homes.

The way we use energy now is the equivalent of walking into a convenience store every day and filling our pockets with candy and walking out. Then the bill comes at the end of the month and we say, “There’s no way I ate that much candy!”

This is an inherent problem with the way we use energy, or it will be, at least, until we live like the Jetsons and have nifty energy dashboards in our homes.

Other Than Heat, What Caused Our January Electric Bill to Skyrocket?

Several things. We simply have more stuff plugged in now than we did five or 10 years ago — Xboxes, electronics chargers, iPads — and some of those things are energy hogs.

For example, plasma TVs use as much energy as a refrigerator. They’re getting more efficient now, but if you had the old square CRT and replaced it with a flat-screen plasma, you’re instantly paying much more than you did before to run that plasma TV.

People are replacing incandescent light bulbs with the newer energy efficient CFL’s. But if you leave your lights on twice as long because you think you’re saving energy now with the newer bulbs, you’re wrong. It’s like eating salad so you can have desert.

Too late now to save on that January electric bill, but you can do something about February. Turn down your thermostat by 2 degrees and put on a sweater. Turn off lights in rooms when you’re not in there. Unplug appliances and other power hogs that you aren’t using, including shutting down your computer at night instead of leaving them running 24/7.

Of course, no one knows how cold or mild it will be the rest of this month, so milder weather will help naturally to cut down on power consumption. But you can help lower that electric bill even further by following a few energy saving tips around your home. Find other energy savings ideas by checking out our other articles on energy savings.

Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. 843-497-9867. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and grab your 20% off coupon on our next service call.

Attic Insulation Saves Money

Adding attic insulation to your home can lower your heating and cooling costs by as much as $600 per year.

We are often asked about the best ways to save energy, and we tell everyone that by boosting the amount of attic insulation from R-11 to R-49, you can save about $600 per year in energy costs.

Depending on the type of materials you use, figure on paying an insulation contractor about $1,500 to add attic insulation to an 800-square-foot attic, which pays back your investment in about three years. You’ll spend about half that to do the job yourself.

Do You Really Need More Attic Insulation?

A quick, easy way to check if you need attic insulation is to look across your attic floor. If the existing insulation comes up just to the tops of the joists, then you probably need to add insulation. If you can’t see the joists and the insulation is well above the tops of the joists, you’re probably okay and you won’t really recoup the cost of adding more.

Methods of Adding Attic Insulation

Roll-on or blanket type of attic insulation is just one way to add more insulationRoll-on or Blanket-Type Insulation comes as rolls of fiberglass batts, either 15 or 23 inches wide. It’s designed to fit between the width of typical framing. If your attic already has some insulation in the attic floor, roll out the batts at right angles to insulate over the framing.

If you’re doing the attic insulation job yourself, blanket-type material is the easiest to work with. Be careful not to compress it or it won’t be as effective.

Blown-in Insulation requires a special machine that shoots a stream of loose-fill cellulose over the existing attic floor framing. This is typically a job for an insulation contractor. The advantage is that loose-fill insulation does a great job of filling in small crevices and other hard-to-reach areas that are difficult, at best, with roll insulation.

Sprayed Foam Polyurethane is a good choice if you plan to turn your attic into a finished room. In that case, you’ll want to insulate the roof and not the floor. Sprayed foam polyurethane molds to rafters, blocks water vapor, and has a high R-rating per inch. Expect to pay about double the per-square-foot cost of roll-on and loose-fill insulation.

How Much Attic Insulation Do You Need?

To determine how much attic insulation you need, look up the recommended amount for your area and subtract the value of whatever amount you already have in your attic. You can figure it out by using the Home Energy Saver online energy audit tool here.

These are just a few ideas for saving money and energy by adding more attic insulation to your home. Check our other articles on Home Energy Efficiency and Savings here.

Be sure to Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for even more daily tips for saving money around your home.

Power Attic Ventilators – Bad Idea

Power attic ventilators, once thought to be a great idea, are now deemed to be a bad idea. That goes for the “now popular” solar power attic ventilators. You know the ones, using the sun to make the electricity that powers the fan? However, using the sun to power your attic ventilators is only marginally better than using the electric models.

Why are we talking about power attic ventilators just as winter is coming on? There’s a very good reason why now. It’s time to unplug those power attic ventilators now during the cooler weather.

Power Attic Ventilators – The Debate

power attic ventilators may actually cost you more than they claim to save youPower attic ventilators will probably keep your attic cooler during the hot summer months, and that means you’ll have less conductive heat transfer across your ceiling. The problem is that a significant portion of the cooling in your attic will be provided by your air conditioner. So, you spend money to buy the fan, to run the fan if it’s not solar, and then your air conditioning bill goes up, too.

You ask, “How can the A/C bill go up? Isn’t it supposed to pull that blazing hot air from the attic and send it outside, replacing it with much cooler outdoor air that gets pulled in through the soffit and gable vents? In marketing theory, yes. Building science shows a different result, however.

What really happens is that when that power attic ventilator runs, it’s going to pull air from wherever it can find it. Since air takes the path of least resistance, some of it will most likely be coming from the conditioned space in your home. So basically what you’re doing is air conditioning your attic. The longer the fan runs, the more conditioned air it pulls into the attic from every little nook and cranny the air can find to get into the attic.

If you have a perfectly air-sealed ceiling, you’re not going to have this problem, of course. The reality, however, is that very few ceilings are leak-free. Since air needs only a pressure difference and a pathway to move, and your ceiling probably has plenty of pathways, it’s best not to enhance any pressure differences that will increase air movement into or out of your home.

Another major problem is that passively ventilated attics bring in large amounts of moisture laden air into the attics during the evening and morning hours when relative humidity is often high. This can lead to sweating air conditioning ducts and air handlers with associated insulation and even ceiling damage.

Our best advice: Don’t install power attic ventilators. If you have one or more of them installed already, disable them so they never run.

If you’re tempted to buy one because it’s solar-powered and won’t make your electric bill go up, go back and read what we just said. These things probably won’t save you any money. Even if they’re solar, they’ll still suck the conditioned air out of your house and make your bill higher, not lower.

If your roofing shingles are near the end of their life expectancy, consider the color of shingles you replace them with. Tests comparing white and black shingles have shown that shingle color makes a greater difference in peak shingle temperature than the presence of one or more power attic ventilators. Black shingles tend to be almost 25 degrees hotter than peak temperatures for white shingles.

There are many studies that have been done on power attic ventilators and their effect on your power bill, attic, roof, and comfort level of your home. This article is not intended to cover all aspects of these findings, but if you have more questions or would like a consultation to discuss these findings, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. If you’re considering whether to install power attic ventilators or not, by all means, call us. Brown and Reaves Services, Inc. 843-497-9867. And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and grab your 20% off coupon on our next service call.

Save Energy For Thanksgiving

Don’t be a turkey and waste energy at Thanksgiving. Here are 9 ways to save energy on turkey day without sacrificing any comforts of the season.

A Few Days Before Thanksgiving

Install a dimmer switch to save energy1. Install a dimmer switch for the dining room chandelier. Every time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10%, you’ll double the bulb’s lifespan. Keep in mind, most CFLs don’t work with dimmers, but you can create mood lighting with incandescents and LEDs. The dimmer switch will cost you about $10 to $15. Be sure to turn off the breaker to your chandelier before replacing any switches!

2. Plan side dishes that can cook simultaneously with the turkey. If you cook dishes at the same temperature at the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time the oven has to be running — it’s easier for the cook and will save energy, too.

When You Start Cooking

3. Lower your house thermostat a few degrees. The oven will keep the house warm. If you have ceiling fans, turn them on in reverse (blowing up to the ceiling) so it sucks air up, distributing heat throughout the room, thus helping you to save energy.

4. Use ceramic or glass pans — you can turn down the oven’s temperature by up to 25 degrees and get the same results. That’s because these materials retain heat so well, they’ll continue cooking your food for a while even after being taken out of the oven.

5. Use your oven’s convection feature if you have that type of oven. When heated air is circulated around the food, it reduces the required temperature and cooking time. You’ll cut your energy use by about 20%.

6. Cook in the microwave whenever possible. Ditto slow cookers. Microwaves get the job done quickly, and although slow cookers take much longer, they still use less energy than the oven. Resist the urge to peek inside your slow cooker: Each time you remove the lid, it releases heat and can add about 25 minutes of cooking time to your dish.

7. Use lids on pots to retain heat. The food you’re cooking on the stovetop will heat up faster when you use lids.

When It’s Cleanup Time

8. Scrape plates instead of rinsing with hot water. Unless food is really caked on there, your dishwasher should get the dishes clean without a pre-rinse. Compost your non-meat food waste.

9. Use your dishwasher. It will save energy and water, so only hand-wash things that aren’t dishwasher-safe. Wait until you’ve got a full load before starting the dishwasher. Try stopping the dishwasher before the heated dry cycle; just open the door and let your dishes air-dry. Many dishwashers today will let you turn off the heated dry cycle when you start the washer, in case you forget to do it when the dishwaster is finished washing.

Keep these tips in mind while you enjoy your upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, and save energy while you do so!

Be sure to Find Brown and Reaves Services on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for even more daily tips on ways to save energy and money around your home.

Save Energy With A Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can save you money on your electric billYou’ve have heard it before, but installing a programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways you can save real money on those rising heating bills this winter.

Programmable models will never “forget” to turn down the heat when you are asleep or likely to be away, meaning the average family will save $180 a year (off the average annual heating budget of $2,000), according to the EPA. The good news is the price of these units has come down a lot in recent years, and they can now be picked up from big box and hardware stores for as little as $50 (remember to look for sales).

When buying, choose a model that has qualified for the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines. Also note that Energy Star has now launched a new campaign to encourage homeowners to get the most out of a programmable thermostat. To make things easy, the site points out that Energy Star-rated models do come with presets that tend to help most typical families save energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program shows you how to properly use your ENERGY STAR qualified programmable thermostat to save energy, money and help fight global warming.

Check out this EPA video on programmable thermostats:

Talk to us about a programmable thermostat before just installing one. We can advise you, based on your home and your lifestyle, whether a programmable thermostat is right for you or not. Call Brown and Reaves Services today. 843-497-9867. And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and grab your 20% off coupon on our next service call.

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