Start with the Thermostat this Earth Day
Earth Day is a time to reflect on ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and one area we can all make a difference is in reducing our home energy use. In the U.S., residential heating and cooling contribute to more than 50% of a home’s total energy consumption. However, even minor HVAC energy efficiency improvements can positively impact both your monthly energy bill and the planet’s future.
Energy Use Breakdown in the Residential Sector
Approximately 55% of a home’s energy use is related to heating or cooling. This means that residential energy use accounts for roughly 21% of total U.S. energy consumption, the third-most after the transportation (37%) and industrial (35%) sectors. Residential heating and cooling also account for roughly 20% of US aggregate carbon emissions. Therefore, addressing the average residential energy used per year will significantly reduce the sector’s broader impact.
HVAC’s Sizeable Footprint
HVAC’s sizeable footprint makes it the perfect place to start making energy-efficient improvements. One way to reduce energy use is by upgrading to a more efficient air-source heat pump. This investment could reduce HVAC energy consumption by 30-60%, and you could qualify for up to $8,000 in rebates for purchasing and installing a new, efficient air-exchange heat pump that also serves as your air conditioner.
Additionally, ensure your home’s HVAC system works correctly by scheduling regular maintenance with your technician. Depending on where you live and the age of your HVAC system, you’ll benefit from annual or bi-annual service. Following seasonal checklists to prepare your AC unit or heating system between appointments will also help.
Other Ways to Reduce Energy Use
Aside from HVAC improvements, there are several other ways to reduce energy use at home:
- Get personalized insights from your local HVAC technician to identify the best ways to improve energy efficiency in your home and access $1200 in tax credits for upgrades such as new windows or electric heating and cooling systems.
- Adjust your thermostat settings when you leave for the day by 10-15 degrees. You can lower your heating or cooling bill by as much as 15%.
- Use a smart thermostat to manage your thermostat settings, offering many of the same features as a programmable thermostat with the added control of digital connectivity. They can learn your preferences and daily habits to optimize settings based on home occupancy, current energy rates, and when it thinks you’ll return home at the end of the day.
- Install insulation wherever possible in exterior walls, insulation, basement, and connected garages. Insulation can lower your home’s heating and cooling costs by as much as 15%.
- Protect against air leaks by inspecting windows, doors, and external vents for cracks or gaps.
- Change your air filter every 1-3 months to prevent dirty filters from forcing your HVAC system to work harder and use more energy to keep you comfortable.
Changing residential energy consumption away from fossil fuels and older technology toward electric appliances and new high-efficiency solutions offers the opportunity to lower carbon emissions in the years ahead substantially. As responsible homeowners, we need to make those changes to reduce our impact on the planet. Start with your thermostat this Earth Day and take steps to reduce your home energy use.