It’s difficult to imagine life without the appliances and technological perks to which we’ve become accustomed. But the scores of appliances found in a typical home create a huge demand for energy and costs for both the consumer and the environment can be significant. According to the New York State Energy Planning Board, New Yorkers spend more than $33 billion each year on energy–roughly $1,800 for every person living in the state. Becoming aware and integrating energy-saving appliances in your home can help defray the cost of modern conveniences, lowering your energy bills and helping to preserve the environment.
Heating and Cooling
Whether you have central air or individual window units, there are ways to conserve energy during the warmer months. For starters, consider how old your current method of keeping cool is. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star guidelines, if you have a system that’s seven or more years old, updating your home with Energy Star-approved central air conditioners could save you as much as 20 percent on your summer electric bill. According to utility experts at Con Edison, the newest, most efficient A/C units can be up to 70 percent more efficient than older models. Look for units with the Energy Star label that incorporate features like built-in timers and thermostat settings to maximize your savings.
ConEd also recommends you make sure you’ve got the right size A/C unit for your room. While that larger A/C unit might seem like it will keep rooms colder, an air conditioner that’s too big is just wasteful. According to Carrier Corp., a manufacturer of air conditioning and heating equipment for commercial and residential use, you should take into account both the size of the room and the number of rooms you want to cool. For the maximum benefit, filters should be cleaned often–especially in areas like Manhattan, where heavier traffic and soot are present.
David Brooks, president of Superior Light + Fan in Manhattan, recommends installing ceiling fans to increase the effectiveness of air conditioning and heating. "Depending on the direction the fan is spinning, [clockwise or counter-clockwise] you can use less air conditioning in the summer and less heat in the winter," says Brooks. This works well in rooms with high ceilings. In the summer, the fan can be used to force cool air to a mid-range, and in the winter, it will help to bring warm air down, resulting in the use of less heat. A fan requires minimal energy when compared to an air conditioning unit, so installing one or two might be a wise investment. Keep in mind the number of rooms you have, as Brooks cautions, "Fans don’t work well around bends, doorways, or in an l-shaped room. You might need an additional fan depending on the space."