Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome to Go Gateway Green!

Here are some handy tips to keep your home cool this summer, so you can use less and spend less.

1. Programmable Thermostat
If you have central air conditioning, a great way to save energy and money is by installing a programmable thermostat. These easy- to-install devices allow you to set your air conditioner to warmer temperatures during the hours you are not home or in the evening and early morning when it is cooler outside. (See our product profile for more detail).
Programmable thermostats benefit you all year long because they can be used with your furnace during the winter, providing even more savings.

If you already have a programmable thermostat, now is the time to review your settings. Summer schedules almost always vary from winter schedules. Late spring and early summer allow you to keep your A/C at a warmer setting since you can open windows or use fans at night when the outside air is cool. Keep a close eye on the time you spend home vs. the time you are out and about. Or, if you have multi-zone thermostats, make a note of where you are at what time of day. Make sure your settings reflect this. Don’t air condition bedrooms during the day, if no one is there until the evening.

Click here to see our pick for best programmable thermostat.

2. Insulation
The Alliance to Save Energy says the easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in your attic. If you have less than 6 or 7 inches of insulation, you could probably benefit from more. Most homes should have 6 to 10 inches of insulation.

3. Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL)
Replace your five most-used light bulbs with compact flourescent lightbulbs. 95% of the energy used with an incandescent light bulb goes into heating the bulb, adding unwanted heat to your home. CFLs use two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CFLs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing - approximately 5 milligrams - a hundred times less mercury than found in a single old-style glass thermometer. No mercury is released when the lamps are intact or in use and, if disposed of properly, mercury in CFLs should not be a safety hazard.

4. Fans and Dehumidifiers
Install ceiling fans or drag out those window fans. At night, when the outside air is cool, ventilate your home with fans instead of A/C whenever possible. Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumer Reports’ “Greener Choices,” says that ceiling fans can reduce the temperature in a room about 6 or 7 degrees.

Dehumidifiers also help to increase comfort levels. Used along with fans, they reduce the humidity, help to maintain a steady airflow and cost less to run because they consume less energy than air conditioners.

5. Energy-Efficient Appliances
Select new air conditioners, refrigerators and windows with the Energy Star label that guarantees these appliances are more energy-efficient than their less-expensive counterparts. But don’t let the higher prices scare you. The energy and money you will save over time help to justify the difference. Plus, based on the 2009 economic stimulus package, homeowners can get a tax credit for up to 30% of the cost of energy-efficient home improvements during 2009 and 2010.

Go to www.energytaxincentives.org/consumers/ for more information about tax credits.