Tech to Help You Power Up for Winter

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Now that winter is almost upon us, we can expect a lot of energy and money to be expended keeping houses comfortable and warm. Many homeowners enter the season anxious about the expected increases in their bills - fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your house, sparing you some cash and contributing to environmental well-being! Automated “smarthome” technology has come to the fore in the area of helping ordinary people cut back on their energy use. By taking the appropriate measures now, before the full winter chill is upon us, you'll be able to prepare your home for the frigid months ahead!

It's easy to forget about your lights; they're there when you need them, and the only time you're likely to be conscious of your lighting system is when there's something wrong with it. You should be aware though that you can renovate your lights to make them perform better. LED lights are superior to normal light bulbs because they consume less energy, last longer and cause fewer injuries if they break. Coupling them with the right dimmers, motion sensors and timers will enable you to cut usage when there's nobody present.

Your HVAC system probably uses even more electricity than your lights, so any improvements in its efficiency will allow you to reap handsome dividends. There are a number of programmable thermostats on the market today from a variety of manufacturers, including Nest. With one of these devices installed, you can set up a timetable for heating and cooling your home so that you don't waste energy by having your house heated up when there's nobody home. Many models allow you to maintain different temperatures in different rooms. These sophisticated products will even learn your family's schedule and automatically adjust themselves to conserve energy and keep your residence comfortable without any user input required.

Many home appliances today have been specially designed to reduce negative environmental impacts. You can find dishwashers, refrigerators and other products that have been certified by ENERGY STAR if you're looking to lower your energy consumption. Yirego has brought to market an innovative washing machine, called Drumi, that doesn't use electricity at all. Instead, you power it by pressing down repeatedly on a foot pedal. The unit then uses this mechanical energy to conduct its wash cycle.

Solar panels are becoming incredibly popular with homeowners in states with a reputation for sunshine all year round. Even if you live in a colder part of the country, this renewable energy source might be right for you. Although daylight hours tend to be shorter in the wintertime, the cold temperatures mean that solar panels can work more efficiently as they won't overheat as much. These factors roughly cancel out and mean that solar is an effective and clean form of power generation even during cold parts of the year. If you obtain a storage battery in addition to solar panels, then you'll be able to time-shift your usage of the electricity produced by your solar power system. This will reduce your dependence on your local utility company, and you might even be able to earn rebates or tax credits for installing the needed solar equipment!

According to Duke Energy, American households waste around 35 percent of the energy they consume. Besides harming our natural surroundings and gobbling up scarce resources, this profligate energy usage also puts a hefty dent in our wallets. By acting now to reduce energy wastage this winter, you'll be fulfilling your responsibilities to the environment while simultaneously protecting the interests of your bank account.

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