Maximize Your Solar Energy Savings
Energy from the sun is free (once you have the proper equipment) and abundant but maximizing your energy efficiency is one of the most crucial parts of setting up a solar energy system. The typical solar roof will generate between 2-2.6kw, so if you’re still using 10 100w light bulbs in your vanity mirror, you can kiss half of your solar energy goodbye. Here are 5 great ways to minimize your energy usage, and all of these apply to those with or without a solar energy system.
1. Check your windows – old windows? double-paned?
Windows are the easiest way for your house to lose heat in the winter or cool air in the summer. This is often due to poorly sealed windows, windows where the frame may be rotten or decayed, or older windows that are single-paned. While new windows aren’t cheap, you can often get a government subsidy or tax incentive to install energy-efficient windows. Newer windows now come with low-conductance gas, such as argon, in between the panes as well to maximize the energy efficiency, helping you make the most out of your solar energy.
2. Energy-saving lightbulbs, CFL lightbulbs
Odds are if you’re about to jump on the solar train, then you’ve been hip to CFLs for a while. If not, they’re the little light bulbs that somewhat resemble a cone of soft-serve, and they typically use about 1/10th of the electricity for the same lumen output. The technology has improved a lot over the last few years to where they now achieve full brightness within seconds, match the color temperature of traditional tungsten filaments, and have an average lifespan of 5-10 years.
3. Live a greener lifestyle, (don’t just wear Birkenstocks)
Living green is certainly trendy in America right now, especially in the urban centers, but unlike Justin Bieber or Hammer pants, this is a trend that can actually help preserve the planet for wildlife and for future generations. Something as simple as shutting off the lights when you leave a room can reduce your energy consumption by as much as 20%.
4. Check for leakage in your heating, A/C, and ventilation systems.
Time to bust out the duct tape. A leaky vent means energy inefficiency and when it comes to solar energy systems, efficiency is the only way it makes sense economically and environmentally. If you’re unsure how to look for leaks, an hour of labor from your local HVAC guy should be all you need.
5. Check your doors, make sure heat isn’t escaping
Finally, just like the windows, when there’s a hole cut in the side of your house, chances are you might be losing heat or a/c through it. Make sure that you have good weather stripping on all exterior doors (especially the garage door) and depending on your home, it may be more energy efficient to close interior doors to rooms that you’re not using. Closing heat registers in rooms that are unoccupied (like a guest room or parlor for example) can also be a great way to minimize your energy usage and your energy bills.