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Solar Energy – Advantages of Going Green

Using solar energy has it’s advantages, and disadvantages. Today we are going to look at the many advantages of using solar energy, and next week, we’ll look at some of the disadvantages.

Solar Energy in the form of solar panels has advantages and disadvantagesThe biggest advantage for using solar energy is the environmental advantage. The exploitation of non-renewable resources will eventually lead to shortages, increased costs and extreme pollution. It would be foolish to think we can rely on fossil fuels for energy forever. To continue to burn fossil fuels will lead to more pollution, and this will affect our climate and our health. Finding safe, clean, renewable energy becomes imperative.

The sun will always shine. Its power will not decrease, as with the case of fossil fuels. When the Earth can not depend on fossil fuels for energy, the sun will always provide enough energy for everyone.

Solar Energy is Clean and Free, Sort of

Solar energy from the sun does not pollute our environment and add to climate change, global warming and air pollution. And once a solar system is installed, you can enjoy practically free energy as long as the sun stays in the sky. Fossil fuel will continue to cost as we use it, and most likely get more expensive as we move forward into the future.

If you opt to go with solar energy to produce all the energy your house needs to use from the power of the sun, you will save a lot of money on electric bills. And check this out! If your system produces more energy than you need, you can sell to the electric company. You can not only save money but also make money with the help of solar panels.

Solar Energy Is Not Really a DIY Project

You can reduce the initial investment with a “do it yourself” kit, but we don’t recommend it. We’ll touch on more of the reasons why next week when we look at the disadvantages of a solar system.

Solar Energy is Available Most Everywhere

No matter how remote the place is where you live, if the sun is shining, your home can benefit from solar energy. A solar energy system can be installed anywhere. Therefore, for people who want to build houses in the mountains or other remote areas, solar energy may be a viable solution, especially if you’re building in an area where there is no electric lines nearby.

Other economic benefits of solar energy is provided by the government. You can save money by using various financial incentives. There are tax incentives and various credits and rebates to encourage people to go green. The incentives available with the installation of solar panels may significantly lower your overall costs.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we only told you about the positives associated with solar energy. So next week, we’ll highlight some of the negatives for you in part two of our series on solar energy. Check our other articles on Home Energy Efficiency and Savings here.

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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.

Energy Savings After Cold Weather Hits

Cold winds and temperatures might have snuck up on you this year before you could take appropriate measures to winterize your home and add some energy savings to the mix. Making small adjustments in the home can lead to energy savings and lower utility bills through the winter months.

Finding a balance between being comfortable and energy savings is key. A good place to start is with your thermostat.

The thermostat setting determines how much you will spend for heating and cooling costs. Consider setting yours down when you don’t need it, perhaps when you are sleeping or gone during the day. Each house is unique, but generally every degree you drop your thermostat might save as much as 3 percent on your heating and cooling costs.

Energy Savings With Your Furnace

Realize energy savings by just changing your filter every thirty daysYour furnace, whether it is gas, propane, heat pump or even geothermal heat pump, should be operating at optimum efficiency. This means filters should be regularly replaced or cleaned.

The more you use the heat, the more important it is to check it, certainly at least every three months if not more often, just to make sure that the filters are clean. If you have not had your furnace serviced in two or three years, it would be worth having a service technician do a standard evaluation to make sure everything is still lubricated, operating properly, venting properly and you are getting the most out of the fuel that is being consumed by the furnace to provide comfort in your home.

If you have any combustion appliances, like a furnace, in your home, you should have a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that can cause flu-like symptoms or even death.

Energy Savings Elsewhere: Windows, Doors and Outlets

Leaks to the exterior of the home are one of the largest drains on energy savings. It depends on how many windows your home has, the orientation of those windows, how old they are, how many layers of glass they have and how tight they are.

If it’s too late in the season to be caulking around leaky windows now, one option is to use “temporary caulk”. If the window is not going to be used at all this winter, the temporary caulks don’t bond permanently to the surface but will seal around the window.

You can take a similar approach for maintenance on doors. Temporary caulking can be applied to doors that are not used over the winter, and if it is a sliding glass door that will not be used, shrink-fit film kits are sized to fit doors as well. Weather-stripping doors, making sure the doors close tightly and using temporary door sweeps might also save on home energy costs.

If you have outlets on the inside surface of your outside walls, air gaps in the insulation around the electrical box in the wall might allow cold air in and warm air out.

Put the back of your hand up to an electrical outlet on a windy day, and if you feel cool air coming in, it’s probably worth removing the cover plate, placing a foam insulator on the underside of the plate and then screwing the plate back in place. At the very least, get some of those little plastic child protective plugs and insert them into your outlets. You’d be amazed at how much energy savings you can realize by just plugging cold air leaks at your outlets.

These are just a few of the many ways you can take advantage of energy savings around your home, even though “Old Man Winter” may have us all firmly in his grip at the moment. 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.

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!

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