How to Save Energy in June!

Welcome to the beginning of summer! Your energy needs are likely spiking these days, now that the heat is setting in. Many homes will spend 30% of their annual energy consumption this summer just to stay cool – because none of us wants to be uncomfortable. Most of us can list all sorts of things we should do to keep costs down, like using large appliances in off-peak hours and only with full loads, or using window shades and fans to help control inside temperatures. (If you need more, see the Resources listing below.)

All of these actions are worthwhile. But what more can we do to stay comfortable while saving energy?

Our advice is to think room by room, and to think about some actions you can plan for or take immediately, beyond the usual list. June is a good time to use your Sense Home app to establish a cost baseline, make small upgrades and watch for their impact, while you plan for larger future upgrades.

The Attic

Start with your attic. You can reduce the load on your air conditioner if you start at the top.

  • Solar Powered Attic Fan(s)
    Install solar-powered attic fans to help vent hot air from your attic space. This can significantly keep the attic cooler, and that makes life much easier for your air conditioner.
  • Radiant Barrier
    You could also install a radiant barrier, which is reflective material installed in your attic to reflect heat away from your living space. This again helps to reduce heat gain, and so helps to reduce cooling costs.
  • Solar panels
    Although your roof is not technically the attic, investing in solar is one of the best ways there is to reduce your household electricity bill. Solar panels would be a very big upfront purchase, of course, but there are many programs at the state and federal level that can help offset this cost. For such a large project, we recommend you do two things: (1) Use the Sense Home app to establish a baseline of your home’s energy use and cost, considering different seasons and future purchases (such as an electric car) and calculating potential savings against the cost of the panels; and, (2) once installed, continue to use your Sense Home app to avoid the “solar rebound effect,” which is a well-publicized usage spike of up to 28.5% in homes that install solar, which significantly reduces actual savings.

Empty rooms

On a smaller and more immediate scale, note that rooms without people offer a great opportunity to save energy and keep costs down.

  • A smart thermostat can help you save if it adapts to use less AC when a room is unpopulated for hours. And you can set a programmable thermostat to slightly different temps for day and night use, if that makes sense in your household.
  • You may also need to add a dehumidifier in your basement, which will help your home to feel cooler without lowering the temperature.
  • Remember to turn off ceiling fans when a room is unpopulated, because fans cool people, not rooms–so if a room is empty, they are only using energy. Just be sure your ceiling fans are rotating counterclockwise, as this is what pushes the air down to cool people in the room!

Deck / patio

Many of us use our decks/patios/porches as an extra room in good weather. Is there more you can do to extend their comfort?

  • Does your landscaping help keep you and your house cool? Trees and shrubs are great for this. Both trees and shrubs can also be grown in containers, if your home has no yard. And, with or without a yard, they can help define the boundaries of your outdoor living space while helping you stay comfortable.
  • Have you considered installing an outdoor misting system? And don’t forget the low cost and efficiency of fans, even outside. Or adding awnings overhead or shades on the sides? These can provide privacy as well as screen the sun.
  • And of course, doing as much of your cooking outside in this space as possible keeps the kitchen cool and encourages more parties!

Sense Home app can help

Finally, be sure to use your Sense Home app to measure just how much energy your devices use - and to record your savings!

Make use of the information available in the Usage reports (at your Dashboard) and the detailed device information available at your Devices tab.

usage1

You can also use Watt Check, also at your Dashboard, to measure many common devices that turn on and off easily but that may not yet be identified.

powermeter1

All these measurements help as you establish your baseline and then make changes so you can track your improvement!

The Power Meter, at the main menu, gives you insight into your home’s overall energy use and helps you compute cost savings as you make small or large changes.

powermeter1

The Meter can also help you measure usage on devices on your list of devices, to help you measure cost as well as savings over time.

Resources

How can I use Watt Check? (Sense)
Real Time Savings with the Sense Power Meter (Sense)
9 ways to save energy & reduce energy costs this summer
U.S. Department of Energy (summer savings)
U.S. Department of Energy (keeping cool)
Electricity Consumption Changes Following Solar Adoption: Testing for a Solar Rebound
Get Green Now (saving in the kitchen)
U.S. Department of Energy (kitchen appliances)
Clean Choice Energy (kitchen savings)
U.S. Department of Energy (save on laundry)
Home & Gardens (save on laundry)
Mulberry Garment Care (when to do laundry)