Energy Savings: Incentive Programs
Sharyland Utilities offers incentives for every residential and commercial customer within its service territory to help customers save money on their energy bills. Rebates and incentives are available for a wide range of energy efficiency technologies that reduces energy consumption, from lighting to air conditioning to solar photovoltaic.
For further information on participating in these programs as a customer, please visit SharylandEfficiency.com.
Become More Energy Efficient
The following energy efficiency tips can help reduce wasted energy and lower your energy bill each month.
According to the Department of Energy, the average American household will spend $1,500 every year on their power bill alone, with $660 of that spent on heating and cooling. You can save 10-50% by adding or improving the insulation in your home.
Improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and stop losing your energy dollars.
Seal the Air Leaks in Your Home
- As much as 20% of the air moving through your home’s duct system is lost due to leaks and poor connections. This forces your air conditioner and heater to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
- Sealing air leaks with caulk spray foam or weather stripping will have a significant impact on improving your comfort and reducing your energy bills.
Insulate Your Home
- Also, make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet floors, walls, and ceilings. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork.
- Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates, such as the regions served by Sharyland.
- Insulation performance is measured by R-value — i.e. the materials ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. In Sharyland territories, the recommended attic insulation is R-49 or R-38 for a cathedral ceiling and R-18 for the walls.
- Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. Therefore it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance.
- To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually your attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches deep, depending on the insulation type).
As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling especially in a hot climate like Texas. So making smart decisions about your home’s heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort.
Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
Tune Up HVAC Equipment Yearly
- Did you know an un-maintained air conditioning system can actually cost you an extra $33 each month? That’s about $400 a year! A yearly tune up can reduce equipment breakdowns by as much as 95% and lower utility bills by up to 30%!
- Repairing a small refrigerant leak that’s caught during an AC tune-up shouldn’t cost much more than the service call itself. However, buying a new compressor when low refrigerant levels burn your current compressor out can cost a thousand dollars or more.
- Precision tune-ups ensure that your A/C unit is working at optimal efficiency. When your A/C is running well, it uses less energy to cool your home. Lower energy use means bigger savings for you on your monthly utility bills!
Use Programmable Thermostats
Your thermostat measures the air temperature inside your house and decides when to turn on the furnace for heating or the air conditioner for cooling. When used properly, programmable thermostats can save you up to $180 every year in energy costs.
How to use a programmable thermostat:
- You can adjust the times you turn on the heating or air-conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, you don’t operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house is not occupied. This way you get the same comfort, you just pay less for it!
- Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day). You can manually override the settings without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program.
- You can easily save energy in the winter by setting the thermostat to 68°F while you’re awake and setting it lower while you’re asleep or away from home. By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill.
- In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning. Keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and lowering the thermostat setting to 78°F only when you are at home and need cooling.
Your thermostat reads the temperature of the air next to it. Therefore, don’t position heat-producing devices such as lamps and TVs close to your thermostat. Heat from these devices could cause the thermostat to read a temperature higher than the true room temperature. This may lead to excessive cooling and wasted energy.
Change Air Filter Regularly
- Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating and cooling system inefficiency and failure.
- Check your filter every month – especially during heavy use months, including winter and summer.
- If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months.
- A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool, which wastes energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system, which will avoid expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
Use An Energy Star Qualified System
- If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star qualified model could cut your cooling costs by 30%.
- Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with equipment that has earned the Energy Star rating can cut your annual energy bill by more than $200, totaling over $1,000 in 5 years.
- During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun’s heat. This will help keep the house cooler and cause the air conditioner to use less energy while bringing the temperature to a comfortable level.
- During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to warm your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
If you use outdated electrical appliances in your home, you are likely paying more in utility costs each month than you should. Energy efficient appliances may cost more upfront, but they can help lower your electric bill each month, ultimately saving you more.
Energy Star-rated and high-efficiency clothes washers are the most energy efficient options, saving about 30% more energy and reducing hot water usage by about 40%.Suggested Uses:
- Whenever possible, run full loads in the washer since each load uses about the same amount of energy regardless of the size.
- Use cold water to wash your clothes. Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer, so even if you just switch it from hot to warm you will reduce your energy use in half.
- Nearly all detergents work as well or better when used with cold water as they do with hot or warm water.
- If your washer has the option of a high spin speed, use it! This will reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing and will decrease the amount of time it takes to dry them.
- If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it. This will reduce the energy you use by stopping the machine when your clothes are already dry.
- Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and the efficiency of the dryer.
- When the weather allows it, use a laundry rack instead of a dryer to dry your clothes. This can significantly lower your utility bill.
If you have a dishwasher that was made before 1995 and don’t replace it with an Energy Star qualified one, you could be losing as much as $40 a year on your utility bill.
- Be sure your dishwasher is full when you run it. It uses the same amount of energy and water regardless of the number of dishes inside.
- Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.
- Wrap your heater in a fiberglass insulating blanket to cut heat loss by 25% to 40%. This can save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill of $308 (ACEEE). When insulating your water heater, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.
- Similarly, wrap insulation around hot-water pipes reduces standby losses. Water arrives at the tap 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.
- Also, you can save energy by installing a timer that turns the water heater off at night when you don’t use hot water and/or during your utility’s peak demand times.
- The moving air created by a ceiling fan can make you feel 3°-8°F cooler.
- Lower your air conditioning costs by up to 14% by raising your thermostat two degrees and using your ceiling fan, which will help circulate air in the room and make your indoor environment feel more comfortable.
- In the winter, your ceiling fan can help improve your comfort. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at a low speed in the opposite direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the living space.
Refrigerators that have earned the Energy Star rating use as much as 60% less energy to perform their functions, while providing the same performance at the same price as less-efficient models.
- Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37°- 40°F for the fresh food compartment and 5°F for the freezer section. Anything colder will probably result in a waste of energy. You can use a small thermometer to check and set the temperature correctly.
- Check the seals. Refrigerator and freezer doors should seal tightly. Loose seals cause your unit to work harder and use more energy
You can reduce cost, and your pollutant output, by conserving energy with the type of electrical lighting you use as well as your usage habits. Below are a few simple suggestions to help you do both.
Use Natural Lighting
- Open curtains and shades during the day instead of using lighting. Consider skylights and solar tubes when you remodel or build a home. This allows the maximum use of natural daylight and saves you money.
Control Outdoor Lighting
- To assure only dusk-to-dawn operation of your outdoor lights, control your fixtures with a photocell or a timer. Controls such as these save electricity by turning lights off when they are not needed. Dimmers save electricity when lights are on to lower overall light levels.
Turn Off Lights
- Turn off lights when not in use, even for short periods of time. Turning lights off and on uses less energy than if they are left on all the time.
Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs
Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star qualified CFLs or LEDs:
CFL: A compact fluorescent lamp that uses a tube which is curved or folded to fit into the space of an incandescent bulb.
CFLs vs. incandescent light bulbs:
– CFLs use about one-quarter of the energy to produce the same amount of light
– CFLs last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent lights
– CFLs produce about 75% less heat, which reduces your cooling costs
LED bulb: A solid-state lamp that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the source of light. The light quality is closer to the color rendering of sunlight than CFLs while using even less electricity to produce the same amount of light.
LED vs. incandescent light bulb:
– LEDs use about 10 times less energy to produce the same amount of light
– LEDs last about 50 times longer
– LED lighting is about 85% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, converting nearly all energy used by the bulb into light and very little into waste heat.
Make pool filters your first line of defense. Consider these energy-saving tips.
Remove Floating Debris
- Remove floating debris from your pool to prevent damage to pool pump and motor.
- Use your skimmer to remove floating debris, which can clog your filter and make the pump work harder, using more energy than is required.
- Make sure drains and intakes are unclogged.
Install An Automatic Timer
- Consider adding an automatic timer to your pool pump to help reduce energy usage while making your life easier.
- Reduce the run time of your pool pump to 8 hours versus 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Also, try running your pool pump during the off peak times; usually after 9:00 pm and before 5:00 am. This will reduce your monthly electric costs.
Use an Energy-Efficient Pump Motor
- Should a need to replace your pool pump arise, consider a model with an energy-efficient pump motor.
- Advanced materials in energy-efficient pumps will increase motor efficiency and help you save money.
Keep Filters Clean
- Back washing on a weekly basis keeps sand filters clean.
Strategic landscaping can be a good long term investment to reduce energy loss, while also improving your home’s appearance and protecting the environment.
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Plant Trees and Shrubs
- Planting trees and shrubs around your house protects your home from excessive wind, sun and heat. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, you can lose up to 25% in utility costs each year without the protection of properly placed trees.
- Deciduous trees are ideal to plant for energy conservation because they protect your home from the summer sun, while losing their leaves in the winter allowing the sun to filter through.
- Consider shading your air conditioning unit as well to cut down on costs. A shaded unit can use 10% less electricity than the same one that operates in the sun.
Benefits to the Environment
- Trees and vegetation provide many benefits to all of us. They control erosion, protect water supplies, provide food, create habitat for wildlife, and clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
- The most effective vegetation includes a dense cover of plants to hold soil in place and keep sediment out of roads, storm drains and other water supply areas. Most types of trees and shrubs help improve air quality by removing pollutants, smoke and dust from the air.
- Of course, a key benefit to landscaping is being able to enjoy nature right outside your door.