Furnace filters – what they are and what they aren’t

It’s wintertime now and your furnace – if you have one – is probably running a lot. So this is the time to think about your furnace filter, and what that means really is: check it once a month and change it whenever it starts to look clogged up. If you have a house like mine, with two indoor/outdoor dogs, two months is the maximum we can go before the filter is so clogged that it is visibly bowed inwards when the furnace in running. Furnace filters have one very important function, and it may not be the one you thought it was. Their main, and arguably their only, function is to keep dirt, dust, dog hair, etc.. out of your furnace. That will help your furnace run smoother and easier, which means it’ll last longer. However the notion that changing your furnace filter will improve the energy efficiency of your furnace appears to be not much more than hot air. It remains a bit of a debatable issue, but one reputable building science consultant, Michael Blasnick, insists that he has studied the effect on utility bills of frequently changing furnace filters and found no effect whatsoever on the utility bill. I’ve often heard people say that furnace filters are to clean the air in the house. While it does to that to some extent, that is by no means its primary purpose. Many filters today are even marketed as allergen-reducing or air cleaning – those ones that usually look like a thick pleated fabric – and they probably do the job that they’re claimed to do. The problem...

Do Dryer Balls Really Save Energy?

It’s a question we’ve all asked time and again, along with “what time is it?” and “why are we here?”.  Or, at least, it’s a question I’ve asked once or twice.  Do dryer balls work?  A small spiky ball that, when added to your clothes dryer, is claimed to reduce drying time by up to 25%.  They also can be purchased in the form of wool balls, although to be fair, I have to admit I haven’t tried these. In any case, as you might expect, the results indicate that the answer is a resounding NO. I’ve done my own experiments which were not terribly precise or scientific and found no discernible improvement.  When I searched the web, I found several stories that all seemed to agree that these balls had no appreciable effect on dryer time.  The best study I found was done by a high school kid, who followed a fairly solid scientific process. here is the link to his study: blogs.sas.com/content/iml/2013/08/12/do-dryer-balls-reduce-drying-time/ There is anecdotal evidence that these balls can effectively soften clothes and perhaps do away with the need for dryer sheets and fabric softeners.  But as an energy saver…...

Energy Saving Tips

Credits / Rebates Here I will try to keep up-to-date information on all the tax credits or rebates you could benefit from for buying services or products that will reduce your home energy usage. dsireuse.org: Choose your state from the map of this site, to find a summary of all credits or rebates currently being offered. Unfortunately not as user-friendly or comprehensive as it could be. www.dsireusa.org Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy: Check out this site for rebates on energy-star fridges, new windows, new insulation and geothermal systems. You can even get $250 for a home energy audit. First come, first served, until the money runs out. www.dmme.virginia.gov Appalachian Power: At the moment, there are no energy-savings programs being offered by APE for Virginia residents. They promise some in the future, so it might be worth keeping an eye open here. appalachianpower.com/save/programs/Virginia I’ve heard that if you phone them up, you might be able to get a free home energy assessment paid for by the utility. Are you eligible for the free federal Weatherization Program? Find out… http://www.communityhousingpartners.org/development/energy_services/services.shtml#weatherization...

Alternative Energy News & Tech

Want to Learn More? The world of energy efficiency is exploding now. Whether human instigated or not, the fact of climate change has finally reached the general human psyche. That combined with the simple economics of trying to lower one’s utility bills has finally ushered in a rush of new knowledge and new research about our energy present and our energy future. Here you will find links to websites we like. We hope you will, too. Mother Earth News – a great resource for living simply www.motherearthnews.com The government program that started people talking green www.energystar.gov Calculate your carbon footprint www.nature.org The Home Energy Saver – do-it-yourself energy audit tool hes.lbl.gov Further Reading… Make Your Own Green Cleaners Solar hot water – a primer China goes green Thermal Cameras Spot Energy Gaps in Your Home – NYTimes How Much Energy Does It Take to Get Our Energy?. Lets Clear The Air About Home Energy...