Energy efficiency is such a broad area. Where do I start?
How much of the energy efficiency work can I do myself?
For all of OptimumHouse products, if you are handy with a screwdriver, you can do most of it. Big ticket items not sold by OptimumHouse -like a heating system, may require a contractor.
How do I know I won’t be getting the most expensive deal from you?
We are very competitive and pride ourselves in providing excellent products at fair prices.
What approach does your company take to energy efficiency?
With a little money and a little time, you can see your energy bills drop.
What’s different about your approach?
We provide inexpensive, easy to install products that will save you on your energy bills.
I’m not an energy efficiency expert, how do I know which items I need in my home?
How do I know if I’m spending too much money on energy? And how do I figure out how much I should be spending?
Annually you should not spend more than approximately $0.30 to $0.40 per sq. ft. during heating months (if heating with gas or heat pump). During cooling months (electric air conditioning) your expenditures should be about $0.18 to $0.25 per sq. ft. These are general guidelines. Many factors affect these costs.
Is central air conditioning more efficient than several room air conditioning units?
Don’t feel badly if you don’t have central air conditioning. The latest research shows that, if properly used, individual room air conditioning units can be just as efficient as central systems. And they can save you money if you only need to air condition a few rooms at a time, like a bedroom and a living room. In addition, even if you have central air conditioning, it is still a good idea to have a room air conditioner for a room that you occupy most of the time. With such a setup you can reduce the energy required to cool the rest of the house, particularly on very hot days.
What are some ways to save on my air conditioning bill?
The following tips should help you keep your utility bills in check:
Use an automatic, programmable thermostat to change temperature settings during the day when you are away from home and at night when you are asleep. You will be surprised at the savings that are possible by setting the thermostat a few degrees higher during the summer months. Making this change with a programmable thermostat conveniently and automatically adjusts the temperature settings so you won’t notice it.
If you have an attic, use a roof ventilator to exhaust the heat. Also, consider installing vents under the eaves, at a roof gable, or along the ridge. This allows some of the hot air to escape.
Check your insulation. If you have less than recommended levels, consider installing more insulation. Make your home more comfortable and help reduce your cooling bills by using curtains, blinds, and natural landscaping for shading. Use ceiling fans or small fans to help circulate the air in summer. Air that is circulated feels cooler, so the central air conditioning thermostat can be set at a higher temperature and the house will still feel comfortable.
Close off unused rooms. Partially close the vents in those rooms. If you have central air conditioning however, don’t close off more than half the vents at one time.
How does a programmable thermostat work?
These thermostats save energy by adjusting temperatures automatically at night, or during times when no one is home. Here’s an example:
Let’s say your family prefers an indoor temperature of 72 degrees. Your thermostat could be programmed to lower the temperature to 62 degrees, starting after bedtime. At 5:30 a.m., before anyone wakes up, the thermostat begins raising the temperature back to 72 degrees, so that you wake up to a warm house. At about 9:00 a.m., when everyone has left home for the day, the temperature drops back to 62 degrees, where it remains while the house sits empty. In mid-afternoon, right before family members begin returning home, the temperature returns to a cozy 72 degrees.
I don’t know much about thermostats. Is it difficult to install a programmable thermostat?
OptimumHouse Corp. only has quality thermostats that can be easily installed by a homeowner by following simple instructions. No need to have a lot of knowledge or to call a contractor. Choose from several models appropriate for your heating/cooling system. Our programmable thermostats are made by quality manufacturers. Our offerings include thermostats from Honeywell, Robert Shaw and White Rogers.
Why is humidity control important for energy savings?
Heated air that has been humidified, feels more comfortable so it allows you to turn down the thermostat a few degrees and save on your heating bill. Conversely, in the summer, air that has been dehumidified feels more comfortable and allows you to reduce the use of your air conditioning.
In days gone by we solved a ventilation problem by opening a window wider in the summer and closing it or opening it only a crack in the winter. Why can’t we do the same things now?
These were poor attempts at controlling air movement.
However, in those olden days of cheap energy in the winter, and practically no energy costs in the summer since there was no air conditioning, these rudimentary practices helped, although not very well. Today, the high cost of energy make these practices too costly.
I have good insulation in my attic, why is it important to ventilate the hot air from the attic?
Even with good insulation, there is some heat transfer to the home. A roof ventilator is a good way to ventilate the attic. In a final irony, the super insulation you find in today’s attics (generally R-30 or higher; 9 inches or more of insulation), which is good for inside the home, results in hotter attics in the summer. Without proper ventilation here, you can damage stored items from the heat and humidity. Also you will end up with the roof deteriorating quicker, especially the wooden components.
How much ventilation do I need?
The air inside a home should be completely exchanged about every three hours, according to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers. Yet, according to some experts, some homes are so tightly built that the inside air is exchanged just once every 10 hours.
Should I use kitchen or bath fans to help ventilate?
No, this is not the solution. Turn off kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans as soon as they have performed their jobs. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Air that will have to be replaced and then your furnace or air conditioner will have to recondition it.
I frequently have different weather zones throughout the house. Why can’t all rooms feel “just right” all the time?
They can. With “register boosters” extra air can be pulled from problem supply ducts. So, for rooms hard to heat in the winter or hard to cool in the summer, these devices do the trick. Additionally, “doorway fans” can move more heating or cooling from one room to another. These fans rest in the top area of the door frame, unobtrusive, and out of the way.
How much water does the average person use?
According to some estimates, the average human needs about 19,000 gallons of water in an 80 year lifetime. That's enough to fill 2 1/2 tanker trucks
How can water waste be reduced in the house?
Repair leaking faucets, install water saving devices including low-flow showers, faucet aerators, or flow restrictors. This will reduce the use of both cold and hot water.
Is a water filtration system only important because we drink the water?
The same minerals collect inside appliances, blocking the plumbing and making them less efficient. In the end, gas and electric bills go up and the appliances themselves may need to be replaced sooner.
Why does hot water require special attention?
Hot water is expensive both for the cost of water and the cost of energy to heat it, so special interest in reducing hot water is required.
Does it save hot water if I do the dishes by hand?
Dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, an average of about 6 gallons less per load. Dishwashers also use hotter water than you would use if you were washing the dishes by hand, so they can do a better job of killing germs. Operate dishwashers only when they are fully loaded.
How can I save water and energy with my clothes washing?
About 80% to 85% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes – use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents when-ever possible. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half. Also, wash and dry full loads.
How can I save energy and reduce water use with my showers?
The typical U.S. homeowners' water consumption by the shower is 37%. The easiest way to save energy and water is take shorter showers. However, this may be difficult to do for everyone in the family. It may be easier to replace you showerhead with a water saver showerhead. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow of water while you are soaping up without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
I have to run my hot water for some time before it gets hot . It seems like this uses a lot of extra water. What can I do to save hot water?
Insulate your water pipes. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.
How do electric bikes work?
They work by assisting your pedaling. Electric bikes are everyday bicycles with an added battery-powered electric motor. Power, when activated by a switch on the handlebar (power-on-demand) or in response to your pedaling (ped-elec), gives you an immediate, nearly silent push. When you release the switch (or stop pedaling), the motor coasts or "freewheels" - like when you stop pedaling a regular bike. Standard bicycle hand brakes and gearing round out the controls.
How much effort does it take to ride an electric bike?
The average "couch potato" who normally rides at 10 mph can ride at 15-20 mph using the same effort. Do you remember that easy pedaling after you get your bike up to speed? That's the cruising feeling you get all the time with an electric bike.
How far can I go on before I have to recharge the battery?
How far you can travel, will depend on your effort, the terrain conditions, and your speed. You can expect a range of about 10 miles, with a recharge time of several hours.
How long does it take to charge the battery of an electric bike?
Charging times vary widely due to charger output and battery capacity, but you can expect to recharge in less than 8 hours with most chargers.
How much does it cost to charge an electric bike?
Charging costs less than 5¢ of electricity from common 110 VAC wall outlets.
I use my bike for exercise. If I get an electric bike can I exercise when I want to?
To fully utilize the Electric Bike kit for exercise, try to use the motor mainly to assist your pedaling up hills and inclines, when carrying extra weight, when you find yourself going against a brisk wind, or when you find yourself a little tired and would just like the extra help. The choice is up to you.
How do Mopeds differ from Electric bikes?
Mopeds differ from e-bikes in that they generate more speed, risk, range, expense, pollution, and legal issues. Top speed of mopeds is limited by law to 30 mph. Often, a driver's license and registration is required. An electric bike, which by law is limited to a top speed of 20 mph, reduces the risk of serious injury. It's shorter range of 8-20 miles is plenty for errands and short commutes. E-bikes are the cleanest motorized vehicles - both in terms of air pollution and noise. You can ride your e-bike without a driver's license, vehicle registration, or insurance.
When deciding when to charge the battery what is the best way?
It is best not to let the battery discharge. Due to the nature of batteries, you can double the battery life expectancy by discharging only 50% of capacity instead of 75%. For better results, you get 6 times the battery life at 30% capacity usage per cycle. .
What is the law regarding electric bicycles?
The law regards an electric bicycle as a non-motor vehicle, and, in essence, as a bicycle. Federal law in the U.S. (PL 107-319 regards electric bicycles with fully functioning pedals, no more than 750 watts motor output and 20 mph (on motor only) top speed as “bicycles”. The law assigns the governance of electric bicycles to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. State laws and local ordinances are generally similar.
Why do people choose to ride an electric bike?
There are many reasons why people choose to ride an electric bike. Some of the listed reasons are because they:
enjoy the feeling of fun and freedom when riding a bicycle - except for hills, starts, and headwinds;
considered a gas-powered moped or small motorcycle, but dislike the noise, smell, starting problems and special laws;
like to save money, particularly with the high prices for gasoline.
want their own traffic "lane", convenient parking spots and shortcuts;
prefer their local errands to be easy, slow paced and scenic;
meet new people
help protect the environment;
look for extra chances to exercise - even if it's just a little;
still need convenient, point-to-point transportation after losing their driving privileges.
Can you give me some driving tips to help save gasoline while driving on the highway?
Some tips to save gasoline while driving on the highway, according to the US Department of Energy:
Accelerate smoothly when passing cars or when merging with faster traffic and use cruise control to maintain a constant speed.
Avoid high speeds. Reducing your speed to 55 mph from 60mph can improve fuel economy by about 10%. On the other hand, increasing your cruising speed to 75mph from 65mph can increase fuel consumption by about 20% for most vehicles.
Don't over-load a car. For every extra 100 pounds, you can cut your mileage by 1 mile per gallon.
Can you give me some driving tips to help save gasoline while driving in the city?
Some tips to save gasoline while driving in the city, according to the US Department of Energy:
Rapid acceleration and sudden stops are dangerous. This type of driving also can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%.
Your “driving style” can make a big difference in the amount of fuel your car uses. A slower, gentler style is much safer and saves money.
Save fuel by taking your foot off the accelerator well in advance of a red light and coasting to intersection. Sometimes, the red light will turn green before you get there and you won't have to stop and reaccelerate. Avoid resting your left foot on the brake pedal, which is a bad habit that increases fuel consumption and increases the wear on your brakes and rotors.
In the winter, Is it better to drive a car immediately after starting it, or wait until the engine has warmed up?
Reduce vehicle idling. No more than 30 seconds of idling in winter is needed
Does using the car air conditioning make a lot of difference?
Use air conditioning only when necessary. If you use your air conditioning, it is more fuel efficient to open your windows first, before you operate your air conditioner, so that the warm air can flow out of the car, and then close the windows once the air conditioner is providing cool air to the car.
Does it make any difference if I place my things on top of the roof instead of inside the car?
Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than roof racks. A loaded roof rack can increase your fuel use.
Sometimes I make short duration stops. Is it better to turn off the engine or let it idle for a couple of minutes?
Except when you are in traffic, turn off your engine when stopping for longer than 10 seconds. It is a myth that starting your car takes more gasoline than idling it. More than 10 seconds of idling normally uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.
Can you give me car maintenance tips to improve gas mileage?
Some car maintenance tips to improve your gasoline mileage, according to the US Department of Energy:
- Make sure the tires are properly inflated and aligned. This can improve your mileage by about 3%.
- A car that is tuned up and is running right will use less gasoline.
- Keep clean air filters. Replacing a clogged air filter protects your engine and can improve your mileage by as much as 10%.
- Protect the engine by getting regular oil changes. Use the grade of oil recommended by the manufacturer. Using a different grade of oil can lower your gas mileage by 1% or 2%.
I am thinking of getting a better car. Also thinking of getting a Hybrid. Any tips?
When buying a new car, compare the fuel efficiency of different models you’re considering and buy the car that gets higher miles per gallon. Hybrid vehicles are popular but they are more expensive. The payback on a hybrid car at $3 per gallon can be as long as 5 years depending on what kind of mileage you get with your car and how many miles you drive.
Do we really have any alternatives or are we going to continue to be dependent on gasoline?
Consider options like public transit, or walking to work. Also, consider alternative transportation like a bicycle or an electric vehicle like an electric assisted bicycle, an electric scooter or an electric moped. It may be more practical than you think, and save a lot of money and energy.