Local residents can make changes big and small to help the environment.
- Install screens on your windows to block out sunlight at about $50 per screen.
- Add insulation.
- Seal ducts, caulking and weatherstripping.
- Install a new air conditioner, which could be 50 percent more efficient.
- raise your thermostat. In summer months, each degree lower can increase your energy bill by 2-3 percent.
- use the Austin Energy app, an Internet-based tool that allows customers to get alerts when their home energy use increases.
- Incandescent bulbs produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament. Other bulbs are more energy-efficient.
- In a CFL, or compact fluorescent lamp, bulb, an electric current flows between electrodes at ends of a tube containing gases to produce ultraviolet light and heat, which is transformed into visible light when it strikes a phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb.
- LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce visible light when an electrical current is passed through them.
- Local retailers such as TreeHouse offer many harvesting options.
- Harvesting systems can hold 50 to 5,000 gallons.
- ways to use rainwater include:
- watering lawns: Reuse rainwater to keep lawns green.
- irrigating plants: Soaker hoses can slowly release water to plants.
- washing cars: A simple solar pump adapter can use solar energy to increase water pressure.
- giving pets water: Water filtration systems can purify rainwater.
David Dixon, business development manager at local business Native Inc., explains solar energy and its cost.
Solar panels placed on your roof can capture energy you can use.
Sunlight creates a form of electricity called direct-current electricity, which must be fed through an inverter to become alternating-current electricity, which your house can use, Dixon said. That energy can be used or sent to a power grid.
A power grid acts as virtual battery: The grid holds on to electricity so you can use it when you need it.*
*Austin Energy credits homeowners for all solar energy their system provides whether the energy is used in the home or sent to the grid.
How much does solar energy use cost?
- Dixon said it varies, but an average-sized system uses between 20 and 30 solar panels and between 5 and 7 kilowatts of energy.
- 1 watt = about $3.10
- 5-7 kilowatts = about $15,000
- The city offers a rebate of $1.10 per watt and homeowners can apply for federal tax credits, which together could save $7,000, Dixon said.
Check to make sure air ducts are not leaking. Homes that are 10 years old or older can lose 27 percent or more of their air conditioning through leaks, according to Austin Energy. (Source: Austin Energy/Community Impact Newspaper)
Kane Sutphin, director of marketing for local store TreeHouse, said installing a nest thermostat can help control how your home uses energy.
“There shouldn’t be one room that’s always colder. That’s almost always a sign that there’s a problem in the duct system.” –Austin Energy spokesman Carlos Cordova
Treehouse will be the first retailer to sell the Tesla Home Battery.
The retailer, located at 4477 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste. 600, announced May 4 it will offer the new home battery, which costs about $3,500.
The battery helps store energy that can be used to run an entire home, Sutphin said.
More information about the battery is available online at www.treehouse.co.
View a PDF of this guide.