Energy costs for an average Silicon Valley home add up to approximately $1300 per year. Programs like Silicon Valley Clean Energy's GreenStart and GreenPrime utilize clean renewable energy. While they help reduce our carbon footprint, they don't necessarily reduce your monthly expenses. However, you can lower your costs in other ways. Check out my energy saving tips for your Silicon Valley home below. They can help cut your energy costs by anywhere between 10% and 50%.
Energy Saving Tips for Your Silicon Valley Home
Perform an Audit of Your Silicon Valley Home
First of all, you're going to need to audit your home's energy usage. You can do this yourself if you'd like. Pacific Gas & Electric offers a Home Energy Checkup online. All you have to do is sign in to your account and answer a few questions about how you and your family use the energy in your Silicon Valley home. Then, it analyzes your answers to create a personalized list of ways in which you can reduce energy usage in your "high traffic" areas.
A walk through of your Silicon Valley home can also help you identify possible problem areas. Look for holes or cracks in your windows, walls, floors, doors, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and even your electrical sockets. Pay attention to how and where you use electricity in your home. This will tell you where you need to focus your conservation efforts.
Create a Plan and Implement It
After you've identified the areas that need to be addressed, formulate your plan of attack. Then, make the changes necessary.
Windows/Doors - Replace old, cracked weatherstripping. If you look at your front door and can see sunlight streaming through, they aren't hung properly. You're losing heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. Sometimes, a kick plate and added weatherstripping around the door can alleviate some of the problem. However, contacting a professional to fix it may be a better way to go. The few dollars it costs for them to rehang your door could save you thousands of dollars in energy costs down the road.
Fireplace - Everyone loves cozying up to a fire when the weather turns chilly. But this also presents an issue with energy costs. Keep the flue closed when not in use. If you don't every use your fireplace, consider plugging it up and sealing the chimney flue completely. Maximize the heat coming from the fireplace by cracking a nearby window to no more than 1" open. Shut the doors that lead into the room. This helps circulate the warm air instead of sending it up the chimney and outside of your home.
Air Conditioners/Heaters - Make sure these are maintained properly. That means changing your air conditioner's filter every three months. Have someone perform a maintenance check on your heater in early fall, before you put it into use for the colder months.
Thermostat - A programmable thermostat just may be your best friend. In the summer, set the temperature higher when no one is home. Then, about half an hour before you normally return, you can set it to a comfortable temperature. In the winter, keep it at a lower temperature when everyone is gone.
Ducts - Every Silicon Valley home includes a large amount of ducts. The twists and turns allow for several points of deterioration. Check every inch of duct work for leaks. If you use duct tape to repair the leaks, make sure it has an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal of approval. It is less likely to degrade or wear down over time than those without the UL logo.
These are just a few energy saving tips for your Silicon Valley home. If you don't hire a professional to inspect your home for leaks, your best bet would probably be to take PG&E's online Home Energy Checkup. Fixing areas of energy waste not only helps reduce our impact on Mother Earth, but it also reduces the impact on our finances.