During the summer months here in the Lowcountry, most homeowners are looking for ways they can trim spending on their monthly energy bills.
The high heat and humidity we get each year means that our air conditioning systems are running overtime — which leads to bigger hits on the monthly energy budget.
There’s little we can do about the heat here in the south and resulting A/C usage, but there are definite ways we can improve our homes to help them become more energy efficient when it comes to heating and cooling related usage.
Below are 5 steps you can do this year to improve your Lowcountry home’s energy efficiency, which can help lower your energy bill this year and beyond.
Before you start jumping into any general energy efficiency improvements, it’s important that you have a baseline idea of the energy you’re currently using along with spending.
While your monthly energy bill combines all of your energy usage (not just energy used on heating and cooling costs), you can figure about 40-50% of the bill and usage are spent by your home’s HVAC system.
We’ll talk about this more in step number 5 below, but that 40-50% chunk of energy usage is exactly why optimizing HVAC related energy use is so important.
Probably the first place you’ll want to start with any kind of energy efficiency improvement project is checking your home for air leaks — places where the comfortable, conditioned air in your home could be flowing out — that ultimately leads to increased stress on your HVAC system.
Common areas to check include:
More important for older homes in the area, heat gained and lost through windows are responsible for 25-30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.
While this is no small project by any means, knowing that windows represent a large factor in how often your HVAC could be running, it’s definitely worth-while to consider upgrading to more energy efficient window models.
Another somewhat larger project, according to the EPA, when installed properly, the addition of proper insulation can reduce energy costs by 50 percent in some cases.
Most newer homes shouldn’t need to worry as much, but if you find yourself owning an older home in the area, have your local contractor check out the insulation in your home — and if an upgrade is possible and needed.
Getting right to the source of the matter, you’d be surprised by the impact of what a higher efficiency air conditioning system can do for your overall energy efficiency.
In some cases we’ve seen here locally, when homeowners opt for a higher efficiency unit they’ve experienced anywhere from a 30% to 50% reduction on their monthly energy bills.
Lower bills are something we all want each month, and if you mind the energy efficient improvement steps above, you should be well on your way to more affordable summers here in the Lowcountry, for years to come.