7 Ways to Cut Energy Costs Without an HVAC Overhaul

A person holding a curtain, hanging curtains is just one way to reduce energy costs, there are other things you can do and we discuss this in this blog.
“In practically every house in America[…]35% of the power used is actually wasted.”

If you are like most Americans, you want your home to be more energy efficient. The question is, where do you begin? Thankfully, there’s an easy place to start. Heating and cooling accounts for 52% of home energy use. By making your heating and cooling systems more efficient, you will save money and the environment. But not everyone has the budget for the latest and greatest energy-saving gadgets. Here are 7 tips to reduce heating and cooling costs on a budget.

1. Do Your Own Energy Audit

“A home energy assessment should be your first step before making energy-saving home improvements, as well as before adding a renewable energy system to your home.”

An energy audit merely explores where your home might be wasting energy. While a professional auditor comes with a unique set of tools and expertise, there are many aspects of home energy use you can easily assess yourself (e.g., Do the windows close snugly? Does your house whistle on windy days? Do you have weather-stripping under the door?)

If you are a more ambitious DIYer, the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) offers a detailed assessment guide. This guide includes everything from how to check the insulation level in the wall (without punching a hole in it) to how to create a whole-house energy savings plan.

2. Solve the Easy Problems First

“Buying weather strips, caulk[,] and a caulk gun will cost you around $15, but it can save you up to 20% on your energy costs. Talk about a return on investment!”

Once you identify inefficiencies in your home, a few modest purchases at the hardware store can rectify many of them. Obvious air leaks may just be a matter of caulk and weatherstripping; (don’t forget the basement door). Personally, we think insulation is best left to professionals, but many people are willing to brave the itchiness of fiberglass to save money on a contractor. For those not as bold, you can reduce energy loss to an uninsulated attic by building a foam box over the hatch door.

Of course, we’re all busy people. Thus, we recommend you focus on the projects you find either the easiest or most interesting. In this way, you can reap savings for months to years with the investment of a single (and fairly painless) weekend.

3. Take Up Landscaping

“[...]shading the outside [AC] unit can increase its efficiency by up to 10%!”
— The United States Department of Energy

Shade trees aren’t just for picnics and rope swings; they also help your AC. Per the USDOE, planting trees in the right spots around your home can “save up to 25% on your energy costs and cool the surrounding air temperatures by as much as 9°F while also helping to remove some carbon from the atmosphere.”

According to one expert interviewed by Bankrate, the best method is to “plant tall trees on the south side of the property and broad trees to the west and east.” The broad trees will help shade your windows from low sunbeams in the mornings/evenings while the tall trees will keep off the noon heat. Make sure you plant trees which lose their leaves in fall, however. You don’t want to make your furnace work harder by blocking sunlight in the winter.

4. Give Your Windows a Wardrobe

“In general, about 30 percent of a home’s heating or cooling energy is lost through windows.”
— Bankrate.com

You don’t have to invest in the latest thermal glass technology to make your windows more efficient; just close your curtains. Keeping the curtains, blinds or shade closed on hot, sunny days can make a noticeable difference in the temperature of a room. If you have insulated curtains, the same trick can work on winter nights. Just don’t place the curtains where they are blocking any HVAC vents.

If your budget is slightly higher, Bankrate recommends installing “solar window shades, which are coated with a material that effectively blocks most UV rays from entering your home. They will keep your furniture from fading from direct sunlight and keep your electricity bill lower.” Window films and solar window screens round out your window’s additional wardrobe options.

5. Don’t Invite Your AC to Dinner

“Turn on the kitchen exhaust fan after cooking. Run the bathroom exhaust fan after a hot shower to help the heat dissipate.”
— Bankrate.com

Cooking can make your AC work harder to remove heat and humidity. Whenever you have to prepare small summer meals, use the toaster or the microwave instead of the oven. For larger gatherings, an outdoor barbeque is a classic choice.

The same logic applies to the bathroom; do you really need to take a hot shower every day in the summer? An occasional cold or cool shower not only adds less humidity to the air; it also has been linked with multiple positive health benefits.

6. Fight Your HVAC Instincts

“You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.”

When you get home on a hot day, do you crank the thermostat down to cool the air faster? You’re actually not speeding the AC up; rather, you are merely risking forgetting to change it back later. Instead, do the opposite: set your thermostat to its normal occupancy temperature when you get home.

As a bonus tip, the closer your home’s temperature is to the outside temperature, the slower heat will leak in during summer and out during winter. Thus, your target temperature should be as close to the outdoors’ as comfort will allow.

Of course, if you’d rather not remember all that, you can always teach a smart thermostat to remember it for you.

7. Properly Match HVAC Filters

“You might think that a higher MERV rating would automatically be better, but it’s not.”

Regularly replacing your HVAC filters is important, but following the manufacturer’s instructions is even more so. This is not so much a matter of energy efficiency (albeit that’s a factor) but of extending the lifetime of your HVAC. If you put in a grade of filter that is too high for your system, it can lead to expensive repairs of the fan, condenser coils, heat exchangers, and/or tubing.

However, this leads to one major dilemma; the lower the filter grade, the fewer contaminants it captures. Thus, filter replacements become a balance between air quality and HVAC strain.

Thankfully, the Air Scrubber by ActivePure can offer a way out of this dilemma. These purifiers work in-duct to neutralize viruses, bacteria, and mold spores — without the use of filters that strain your HVAC. As a bonus, the Air Scrubber is easy to install and only uses about as much energy as a lightbulb.

Give your HVAC system a helping hand by ordering your Air Scrubber today.

About The Author

Scroll to Top