Hints for Reducing Your DIY Solar Energy Consumption Posted on 12 Jan 10:31

Reduce Energy Consumption

Using DIY solar energy is a great way to save money on your monthly electric bills, but it’s an even better way to reduce the initial investment cost of your photovoltaic panels and other equipment.

However, you’ll reap the most savings of all if you can reduce your home energy use at the same time.

By making your home more energy-efficient, your power needs will be reduced, allowing you to rely less on the traditional grid and more on the free power of the sun. Check out these easy and inexpensive ideas to cut your electrical usage.

Computer and Power Management

Computers, printers and routers are power hogs, but you can make some adjustments to lessen their electrical demand.

To lower your home’s energy consumption, switch to the energy-saving settings on your devices and set them to automatically hibernate when they have been inactive for 10 or 15 minutes. You can also purchase an inexpensive gizmo that will automatically power down your computer peripherals once it begins to hibernate.

With all electronics, including computers, it also will help to plug them into a power strip with an on/off switch.

Most electronics continue to consume power even after they are turned off. This extra energy use is known as a phantom load or standby power, and — even though the draw is small — it can add up to a substantial amount of wasted electricity ever year.

Turn off the power strips (rather than just the devices themselves) when you’re finished using your electronics and you’ll reduce your home’s power usage by a surprising amount over the course of the year.

Seal Your Home

When air leaks out (or in) around doors, windows, pipes, chimneys and other areas of the home, heat and air conditioning is lost and energy is wasted.

Sealing these leaks can make your home much more efficient. Apply caulk around window and door frames and use a polyurethane spray foam to seal around plumbing and wiring. Pay attention to the basement, attic and crawl spaces too, as these have many hidden spots where air can seep in or out.

Consider also sealing your exposed heating duct joints, as openings at the joints allow heat to escape. Don’t use duct tape for this, however, as it’s not always effective. Duct mastic is a better choice, even though it can be messy to apply.

Other Easy Steps You Can Take

Replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) — or even better, LEDs — can reduce your energy consumption significantly, especially if your family tends to leave on lights.

You’ll also save on power if you insulate your windows. You can use kits from the hardware store, energy-saving window blinds or screens, or even bubble wrap — just spray water on the window and apply. Or, if you’re really serious about cutting your energy use and costs, install new, energy-efficient windows.

If you’re in the market for new appliances, HVAC equipment or electronics, choose those that carry the best Energy Star rating. Any extra cost that comes with this choice will be offset quickly by your energy savings.

Finally, check with your local electric utility company, and ask if they will conduct a free or low-cost energy audit for you. You may be surprised at what they turn up!

Solar GOODs is America’s do-it-yourself solar superstore. Check out our system design and calculator tool, then simply order your equipment online. With just a little effort to cut your energy use, you’ll save even more money on your DIY solar energy equipment.