There are several simple and cost effective things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home and many of them are simply making changes in the way you do things.
Do your laundry at night. Your dryer takes the nice air conditioned air from inside the home, heats it up and blows it outside. This makes the AC unit work harder if you do the laundry during the day than at night.
Simply doing other things like cooking and dishes in the cooler parts of the day will help as well.
Check the direction of your ceiling fans. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, ceiling fan users can bump up their thermostat by 4 degrees and see no change in comfort level if the fan is spinning in the right direction.
Fans can be used to blow air down or pull air up. If your registers are adjusted properly they should blow across the ceiling, (not down like most people believe). Here in the Arizona desert the ceiling is often a heat source. If the cold air is blowing across the ceiling it cools it instead of blowing straight down so you only feel it if you are under it.
There is actually building science that backs this up and much of the information can be found on our home inspection blog
Change your air filters every month when you pay your utility bill. This not only saves energy but prolongs the file of the equipment. I recommend the 1 inch pleated paper filters, they filter better than the cheap fiber filters.
Keep the drapes and/or blinds closed on the sunny sides of the home and if possible install shade screens to stop the sun from ever reaching the window. Install shade screens on glass block windows that face south or west. I have checked the temperature of these windows during home inspections and found them to be 130 degrees. They are frequently 4′ x 4′ and installed in the bathroom with an 8 inch duct trying to cool the area. (16 sq ft being cooled by an 8 inch duct is not effective) Installing a shad screen can drop the temperature of the glass by 30-40 percent.
Check your insulation. I have inspected several homes that had great energy efficient windows and little to no insulation in the attic. Insulation is one of the least expensive things you can improve and see a return on your investment.
Make sure the insulation is installed evenly and none of it is missing or misplaced. if 5%of the insulation is missing it can reduce the overall effectiveness by 50%. (Think of it this way, less than 5% of the Titanic hull was damaged but everything flowed in through that point) The best insulation is what ever is installed properly. Cellulose (recycled newspaper treated with a fire retardant) or fiberglass, both will work fine as long as it is installed properly.
If you are going to stay in the home for 5 or more years then you may want to think about changing the air conditioning unit to one that is more energy efficient or installing new energy efficient windows but these are investments that will take longer to get your return back.
The bottom line is with a few small changes you can save money and reduce your energy footprint, and in today’s environment, these are both good things.
If you would like to schedule an home inspection in the Phoenix area, please call us at 480-636-7400