Although your kitchen is likely the room within your home that gets the most foot traffic, the family room is the hot spot in the home for hanging out, sitting down, relaxing, watching TV, and playing video games, among other things. Designing the family room for optimal energy efficiency requires just a few minor alterations or modifications.
Controlling Temperature In order to properly enjoy your family room, it must be kept at a comfortable temperature. Drafts that come through at the bottom of doors can be real energy suckers, so be sure to use draft guards in these areas. All of your heating and air conditioning registers and vents should be free from any obstacles. You must also keep your air conditioning/heating filter clean and replace as needed. Opening the drapes on sunny winter days is a good idea to reduce the cost of energy in the family room, and inversely, drapes should be shut during the summer to block out heat during the hottest times of the day. For family rooms with larger windows that do not receive direct sun or heat, keeping the drapes closed all year long will keep heat in or out. A programmable thermostat is a good investment when you are looking to reduce energy consumption in the family room that allows you to pre-program the temperature that you want for the room and forget about it. If you have a fireplace in the family room, consider a gas insert model instead of wood burning, as gas models are much more energy efficient.
Energy Efficient Lighting Since lighting can amount to as much as one-quarter of the total cost of electricity for a home, energy efficient lighting is important in the family room. Natural sunlight should be used whenever possible, and you can take advantage of natural light from outside by using loosely woven drapes or curtains on the windows in this room that allow your room to enjoy sunlight without sacrificing a whole lot of privacy. Obvious ways to save energy within this room is to turn lights off when they are not in use, and perhaps think about installing indoor timers or lights that sense occupancy in order to reduce energy use. Make sure that traditional light bulbs are replaced with energy efficient compact fluorescent varieties.
Electronics and Wasted Energy A final place to look for energy savings in the family room is through the use of electronics, or rather, paying for electricity for electronics that are not even being used. Computers are big energy wasters, especially when they are not shut down after use. When purchasing a new computer, printer, or monitor, always opt for energy efficient models. LCD computer monitors use up to ninety percent less energy than older CRT monitors do. Look for the Energy Star symbol on any electronics that you purchase. Power off the television, fax, DVD player and other energy wasters – don’t just leave them on standby. And keep in mind that even when in ‘off’ mode, many electronics keep using electricity – so unplug larger electronics to cut your energy bill.
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