With concern for our planet growing, and energy bills increasing, more and more of us are aiming to cut back on electricity, or even to live completely off the grid.
While there are plenty of electric gadgets we can simply go without, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is essential rather than optional. There are several ways to do this and still reduce electricity use.
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The first thing to consider is the insulation of the house. The most efficient system available will be no good if all the hot or cool air is escaping from the building.
One option is to have a professional audit of your home. This will tell you exactly how you can improve energy efficiency. These audits cost money, of course, but the savings over time will soon cover the cost.
Alternatively, you can do some checks yourself. Find out if your attic and walls have sufficient insulation. This will help with both heating and cooling.
Check that your windows and doors are properly sealed. The tiniest of gaps will let air escape and affect temperature control.
Dual Hybrid System
Dual hybrid systems, which combine gas, oil, and electricity by incorporating a furnace and electric heat pump, can both heat and cool your home. They can switch between gas and oil depending on current cost efficiency, and when temps are warmer they can switch from furnace mode to heat pump mode. The electric heat pump, which provides up to 300 percent more energy than it consumes, will cool the air in summer and heat the air during the warmest parts of winter.
Oil and gas are both fossil fuels, but the ability to switch between them makes them more efficient and therefore more economical.
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No electricity is required for wood-burning stoves, and wood is a renewable resource if harvested sustainably.
Wood stoves can be indoors or outdoors, and heat is distributed via conduction either through an air duct system or using hot water pipes. These stoves need weekly cleaning and service to avoid ash buildup and blockages, and they can leave you with a heat gradient throughout the house. They can’t operate on a thermostat, and any smoke generated can have a negative impact on health.
Solar energy can be used to heat either air or water, which can be pumped around a home to heat it. Solar cooling systems are also available and are extremely efficient, as cooling is most needed when the sun is strongest. These units use heat conduction methods that require very little energy, and the pumps can be run using solar power for a completely electricity-free option.
Installation of a solar system can be expensive, but it will pay for itself through the savings on your bills. Solar power is a completely renewable resource so it’s eco-friendly.
Options for Everyone
It’s always possible to cut back on electricity, even for something as important as HVAC. Whether you want to decrease your bills, help the environment, or live completely off the grid, there are practical and affordable options.