Home Solar Power - How To Save Energy?

When it comes to going green using alternative, renewable, energy sources the first thing that you should do is look at your home itself.

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Whether you plan to convert part of your energy needs to green sources, or to convert your entire home, taking the time to reduce your energy needs first will help to ensure that you get the most of your conversion. For now, just begin looking at your home and read through this article. This will give you a good idea where you can make changes to ensure that you reduce your power needs.

Even if you never converted your home, the simple ideas included in this article could reduce your power requirements by as much as 25% (even more if you live in an older home). But, even if you just changed some lighting, you will be on your way to reducing your energy needs significantly, not only will you save money, you will also reduce the demand for such fossil fuels as coal, oil, and natural gas. Less burning of fossil fuels also means lower emissions of greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide (CO2)), the primary contributor to global warming, and other pollutants. With that said, let’s get started. Feel free to Request A Quote On Solar Pricing, Installation & Savings At GoGreenSolar.

Home Solar Power - Energy Saving Lighting

When it comes to energy usage, lighting usually is one of the least expensive element in our homes. However, it is one of the simplest places where you can begin saving money right now. Energy efficient lighting can reduce the amount of power you need to light your home by as much as 3000%. To clarify this let’s look at an example before we move into selecting green lighting products.

If you had a 100Watt light bulb that you ran for 3 hours per day for 30 days out of a month, here’s what the energy costs would like (approximately – obviously this depends on your power rate):

100Watts x 90 hours = 9000 Watt-Hours, which equals 9kW hours .

If we assumed a cost of $0.30 per kilowatt hour, that equates to a cost of about $2.70.

Now looking at 1 light bulb by itself obviously doesn’t amount to a large energy bill. But how many light bulbs do you have in your home? 20, 30, 50, more?

To put that in perspective :

A typical incandescent bulb costs $0.50 – you'll need 20 to 30 of these ($10 - $15 worth) in the same time you would need one CFL light (which cost $5 - $10 each). In other words by switching to energy efficient lighting, the bulbs cost less in the long run, and you save a huge amount of money on energy costs. With all of that out of the way, let’s cover the two main types of bulbs you should consider. For more energy-efficient lighting, see Energy Star CFL page.

Home Solar Power - Compact Fluorescents

A compact fluorescent bulb, or CFL, also called compact fluorescent light is a small bulb that includes a fluorescent light tube. These bulbs range in size/light color, but typically they will cost more than an incandescent. The advantage to this type of lighting is that the bulbs last longer (eight to fifteen times longer in most cases), and they use one-fifth to one-third the electric power requirements to produce the same amount of light that an incandescent bulb would (lifespan may vary from 6,000 hours to 15,000 hours).

Home Solar Power - LED Lighting

A newer type of lighting on the market is an LED bulb that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. These types of lights have been used in electronics for years, but have just recently made their way into the world of home lighting. An LED light bulb consists of a number of light emitting diodes arranged in a cluster. These bulbs produce almost no heat, and they give off a nice clean light for your home.

This is the suggested type of lighting for off-grid applications, or whole home conversion projects. With an LED light, a 3W bulb is enough to replace a 100W incandescent. A 7W bulb can replace that 100W lamp. These bulbs also last up to 10 times longer than CFL lighting (about 100 times longer than an incandescent bulb).

These light bulbs do cost more than compact fluorescent lighting, but with the small power requirements, they will pay for themselves over and over again. Current pricing for this type of light varies from $15 - $50 per bulb. Looking at the power savings chart we used in the example, you make back the cost of the bulb in the first month you use it!

Home Solar Power - Energy Saving Appliances

The next area of your home that you should look at is the appliances you use. If you are using old, inefficient, appliances in your home, then replacing those with newer models is a big step in reducing your energy needs. If you are shopping for new appliances, make sure to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label before making a purchase.

To give you an idea of why you would want to do this:

blank space1) A typical 18.4 cu ft refrigerator manufactured in 1990 used 1044 kWh hours per year to keep your food cool.

blank space2) That same refrigerator made today (on average) uses 440kWh

blank space3) A new energy-efficient compact refrigerator uses 100 – 150 kWh per year.

From that, the advantages of upgrading that refrigerator become immediately apparent. Simply by switching to a, compact, energy efficient model now, you'll reduce energy needs for refrigeration by about 90%. The same thing could be said for almost every appliance you have in your home. Your dishwasher, freezer, washer, dryer, range, and more can be upgraded to more energy efficient models to greatly reduce the amount of power you require.

In this case I'm not going to run through every appliance in your home. Instead I will give you the links to the government resources that can help you in this area. The best links to learn more below include Canada’s Energuide, and the US Department of Energy’s “Your Home” section. Spend some time on these sites to get an idea of what you can save by upgrading your appliances, and to learn more about energy savings in general.

Spending some time on the above listed sites will give you a better overview of how upgrading your appliances can actually save you money. They also include the labeling standards for each area, which are important to learn how to read those energy labels when you purchase that new appliance.

Home Solar Power - Energy Saving Heating/Cooling

Between 30%-50% of the energy costs for any home usually go to heating and cooling. In this case there are too many factors involved to give you guidelines to reducing your energy needs in this area. Instead I want to walk you through what you should look at in your home, and then give you some ideas to consider that might reduce your energy costs.

First you need to look at your home. All of the following factors will affect the efficiency of your heating/cooling system:

blank space1) Windows – A good portion of the heat lost in the winter months will be through inefficient windows. Apply weather-stripping around all doors and windows. Fill in any cracks on window frames or floorboards with filler or sealant.

blank space2) Insulation – For both heating and cooling the better insulated your home is, the longer it will keep the heat in the winter, and cool in the summer. Up to one-third of the heat in your home escapes through your roof. You can prevent this by insulating your attic. Not only is it simple to do, but it's the most cost-effective energy-saving measure you can take.

blank space3) Drafts – If your home has drafts around windows, doors, electrical outlets, etc, sealing those drafts is a simple way to reduce your home heating costs. Assuming your home is efficient in those areas you can then look at reducing your energy needs. Again, there are too many options here to really get into the subject, but it’s usually as simple looking at what you have and deciding whether it’s worth upgrading.

blank space4) Programmable thermostats work by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature to your schedule, keeping it comfortable only when you need it to be. Turning down your thermostat by just 1 degree can reduce your energy consumption by more than 5%. And you won't even notice the difference.

blank space5) And don't use that “standby” function on your electronics, devices set to “standby” still use power, accounting for 35 percent of the wasted energy in your home.

blank space6) Some of the newer heating/cooling solutions such as heat pumps, heat exchangers, or high efficiency furnaces may greatly reduce your energy needs. Whether the savings warrants the costs of the upgrades will be something you have to decide for yourself.

Home Solar Power - Water Heating

Another area of your home that uses a lot of energy is water heating. In most cases this accounts for about 20% of a home’s energy requirements. There are options here that can reduce the amount of power/gas needed to keep your water hot:

blank space1) Heat Pumps – Although costly initially, a heat pump is one of the least expensive ways to heat your water and your home.

blank space2) Solar Water Heaters – Solar water heaters are an excellent option. These can be used as standalone systems, or to supplement your current water heating system.

blank space3) Tank-less Water Heaters – Available in gas or electric models, a tankless hot water heater only heats the water when you need it. In other words, since there is no huge tank to keep hot, these types of systems use a lot less energy.

blank space4) Hybrid Systems – Another option that is gaining popularity (as renewable energy is as well) is a hybrid system. In this type of configuration you would use a solar heater in conjunction with a hot water tank or tankless heater.

There is one important thing to note here. If you currently use an electric hot water heater, you should consider changing that to a different energy source. Especially if you are planning a home conversion where you will live off the grid, the energy requirements to power that 4500W heating element are phenomenal (as I imagine your power bills already are). An electric hot water heater is not a good choice to combine with your new green energy system.

Consider using a solar heater, in conjunction with a tankless water heater, or talk to your plumber about the options that may be viable in your area.

Home Solar Power - Other Devices in Your Home

Along with lighting, appliances, and heating/cooling, the other devices in your home can also be looked at as potential energy savers. To give some examples:

blank space1) A laptop computer uses about 30 to 60 watts of power. Your typical desktop PC uses 600W, 700W, or more.

blank space2) A large home stereo system with an amplifier uses about 400W of power. The smaller, shelf models, use 40W

blank space3) That old cathode ray tube television may require 600W – 1500W or more of power. A newer LCD or LED screen will require much less.

blank space4) Depending on the size of the tank and equipment you have installed – your home fish aquarium may use as much as 1200W of power. Choosing the right filters/lighting/etc could easily reduce that to 100W or less. We could keep going with this list, but you get the picture. By simply looking at the devices in your home, and even just by making energy requirements a consideration when you buy new products, you will reduce the amount of energy required to power your home.

Home Solar Power - More on Conserving Energy

Moving on to green power/energy is another simple way to reduce your energy needs. Purchasing a guide book, DIY your home partially or entirely to green power/energy system will help you save lot of money.

Taking the time to turn the lights off, shut down your PC when you aren’t using it, and not leaving the TV on all day is a simple way to reduce your energy needs. The less you use your electrical appliances, the less power you need to run them!

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