Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What’s the thermostat got to do with it?

Cooling your home makes up approximately 50 percent of your bill during the hot summer months (http://www.energystar.gov/). Because of this, it is important to understand how your thermostat setting impacts your bill.

The easiest way to take control of your cooling costs is to monitor your thermostat setting. We recommend a setting of 78 degrees or higher in the summer. Each degree lower can significantly increase your cooling costs during the dog days of summer. If you currently keep your thermostat set lower than 78 degrees, try increasing the thermostat setting a degree a week to see if you can be comfortable at a higher setting.

Other ways to keep your cooling costs in check:
  • Turn up the thermostat — If you plan to be away for several hours during the day, consider turning your thermostat up several degrees beyond 78. If you’re planning to be out of town for several days, set your thermostat higher (between 83-87 degrees should be fine) than normal.
  • Utilize ceiling fans, close the drapes – Use ceiling fans in conjunction with your air conditioning to make you feel more comfortable. It will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees higher than the recommended 78 degree setting. Since ceiling fans don’t actually cool, make sure you turn them off when you leave the room. Also, closing your drapes or blinds will keep the hot sun and heat out of your home.
  • Keep interior doors open — This allows for proper air flow, which can help your cooling system run more efficiently.

For additional energy saving tips, visit our website at http://www.sceg.com/en/save-energy-and-money/

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not all clothes dryers are created equal

It's hard to believe that mechanical clothes dryers have been around since the 1800s. But, finding ways to dry clothes faster, cheaper and better continues to be very important to most all of us - especially for moms (and dads!) who get stuck with laundry duty.

Newer dryers use less energy, have larger capacities and are much quieter than older models. And they feature many options like multiple temperature settings, moisture sensors, wrinkle-reduction cycles, steam cycles, drying racks and more. But to many people, the ability to dry clothes faster is the most important feature.

If you want to dry clothes about as fast as you can wash them, then look for a new, natural gas dryer. Natural gas dryers produce higher levels of heat than electric dryers, allowing for faster drying times. And their energy costs are also about half what an electric dryer costs per load; so you not only save time in the laundry room, you save money, too!

Natural gas dryers are also better for your clothes because your clothes are dried faster and at specific temperatures to adequately evaporate water from the fabric.

Whatever choice you make - natural gas or electric - be sure to compare energy costs; features that you need (many dryers may have features you'll rarely use); noise levels (especially if your laundry room is next to a bedroom or your den/great room); whether the dryer will fit into the space you have available for it; and whether a top load dryer is better for you than a front loader because saving your back might be the most important benefit of all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What do you need to know about air filters?

Fiberglass, pleated, non-pleated, allergen reducing … with all of the choices, it’s easy to be confused about what type of air filter is best for your home.

Typically, we recommend that you use the plain, fiberglass filters. We have found that heavier pleated filters can often keep air from circulating through the vents properly. When air does not properly circulate through the return, it can prohibit the unit from running effectively.

If you or someone in your home has allergies, you may benefit from a thicker or allergen reducing filter, but you’ll want check with the manufacturer of your unit or a licensed HVAC contractor to make sure the thicker filter isn’t hindering your unit from running most efficiently.

Always make sure the filter is properly sized to the vent it’s housed in. You can measure it to be sure you’re purchasing the proper size. There should be no gaps around the edge that would prevent the filter from doing its job correctly.

Check your filter each month, especially during heavy heating and cooling seasons. If the filter looks dirty after a month it should be changed. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool – wasting energy. A clean filter can also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system; this can often lead to expensive maintenance.

One other thing to consider is that your HVAC system is designed to heat and cool your entire home. So, closing doors to certain rooms prohibits it from doing its job. Keeping doors open not only helps your unit run efficiently, it also helps keep your home cooler in the summer.

For more information and additional energy saving tips, please visit our web site.
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Welcome to the EnergyWise® blog, a place to gain insights into energy efficiency tips and programs offered by South Carolina Electric & Gas. Have a specific question? Ask our Energy Team or comment to one of our posts below.