Building, appliance, and fixture technology will take you only so far in an energy retrofit. The most impactful energy-saving measures, such those put into place at the Lyman Estate, depend upon behavior changes for their effectiveness. Here are some ways you can squeeze the most energy efficiency possible from your house:
In the Summer
1. Keep windows and doors closed when operating air-conditioning.
2. Run air conditioning only when necessary at temperatures no cooler than necessary; otherwise, rely on natural ventilation.
3. Turn off air conditioning in unused spaces.
4. When leaving an empty house in the morning, close windows and window coverings; when not using air-conditioning, open windows after sundown to take advantage of cooler evening air.
5. If naturally ventilating with double-hung windows, partially open the top and bottom sash equally so heat will escape thought the top, and cooler air will enter through the bottom.
6. When cooking, grill outside if possible to avoid generating additional indoor heat from kitchen appliances.
7. Refrain from watering your lawn. (Replace portions of your lawn with drought resistant alternative plantings, pea stone, masonry, stone dust, or other permeable materials.)
In the Winter
8. Install storm windows and doors where applicable.
9. Open window coverings during bright days to admit maximum radiant heat and daylight; close them at night to retain heat.
10. Turn down thermostats a few degrees and wear reasonably warm clothes inside. In unused spaces, you can turn the temperature down a little further.
11. Keep blankets on hand in sitting areas.
12. Close fireplace dampers when fireplaces aren’t in use.
13. If you have a forced-air HVAC system, replace air filters and clean ducts at manufacturer’s recommended intervals.
14. Run dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers only when full.
15. Avoid a second rinse cycle when running dishwashers or clothes washers.
16. Select cold-water wash and rinse as often as possible when running clothes washers.
17. Keep laundry filters clean.
18. Adjust refrigerator and freezer temperatures so they are effective but not over-chilled.
19. Set bath-fan timers to run no longer and no less than necessary.
20. Do not run humidifiers or dehumidifiers unnecessarily.
21. Unplug appliances or devices when not in use.
22. Completely turn off dripping faucets.
23. Properly maintain your home’s systems, appliances, and fixtures.Published in: Old-House Journal April/May 2013