Five things that can increase solar power efficiency in your home

Francisco CastroMay 2, 201912570

Five things that can increase solar power efficiency in your home

Depending on the components of your solar power system and how much energy that system produces, you can stand to save thousands of dollars over the 20-25 year lifespan of this investment.

But certain items in your home may reduce the benefits of a solar power system. Changing some habits and device can lower your energy consumption, giving a boost to your payback period and the overall efficiency of your solar panels

You may already have made these changes, if not, you can do them at your own pace.

Changing to LED light bulbs

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “by replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year.”

Energy efficient light bulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs) typically use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents and last 3-25 times longer.

While these new generation light bulbs might carry a higher price than traditional ones, they cost less to operate and last significantly longer, so you won't need to replace them as often.

Replacing your light bulbs for energy efficient ones can help you drop your energy between 15-25%. 

Smart Thermostats

Install and set programmable thermostats that save energy by regulating your home or building’s temperature when you are home, asleep, or away. New, smart thermostats let you control the temperature in your home as well as keep track of your energy consumption.

You can also set it to inactive when you are on vacation or expected to be away from home for some time. They are easy to install and can also be controlled with your smartphone or mobile device.

Installing energy efficient windows

About 20% of air infiltrates through openings in your windows, doors, and skylights. Storm windows alone can reduce heat loss through windows by 25% to 50%, according to the Department of Energy.

If your windows are not efficient you could lose some of the benefits from the solar panels generating your own electricity. Old windows let in drafts, sunlight, and other elements that can make your energy system work harder. 

When you install these windows, you should ensure that they have weather stripping on all of the movable joints. They should also be made from durable materials that will not rot or warp like wood or vinyl.

Replacing or Improving Insulation

Putting in new, high-quality insulation in your attic, crawl space or basement, and exterior walls along with air sealing can lower your home's heating and cooling costs as well as keep out air drafts around the windows and floorboards.

Insulation can likewise keep out moisture that can cause mold growth and make the air in your house colder or hotter than usual. Insulation comes in a number of different varieties like fiberglass or slag wool. Choose the material that best suits not only your budget, but also the size of your house and the geographical area in which you live.

Tune up or upgrade cooling and heating systems

Up to 43% of a home utility bill goes to heating and cooling. Proper maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, can cut your energy use for heating and cooling from 20% to 50%.

If you want to save money during the summer keeping your house cool, you should have your air conditioning serviced before turning it on for the year. When your AC sits dormant all winter, it can become vulnerable to disrepair like leaks, loose connections, and disintegrated wiring. By the time you turn it on, it could malfunction or not work at all.

The months of inactivity could lead to the Freon in the AC unit evaporating or leaking out of the cooling system. When you turn on the unit, the air will blow hot or lukewarm instead of cool, which causes you to turn the temperature down lower, forcing the unit to consume more energy and your utility bills to rise.

Careful attention to your AC system can help you use anywhere from 5 to 15% less energy during the season and in return, pay less for your cooling costs.

Other ways to reduce your energy consumption is by upgrading household appliances and electronics to ENERGY STAR models. installing an energy-efficient hot water heater, such as tankless model. Water heating is the third largest energy expense in your home accounting for about 12% of your utility bill. You might also want to consider using less hot water, turning down the thermostat on your water heater, and insulating it.

Another easy way to keep electricity savings from evaporating is by sealing air leaks around floors, walls, and fireplaces with caulk, spray foam, and weather stripping. The Department of Energy notes that the energy savings by reducing drafts in a home may range from 5-30% per year. 

Some utilities offer rebates or incentives for a number of these items, which can help you make your home a lot more energy efficient. 

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