Top Hat Outdoor Living Blog

Saving Energy, Saving Money

Be a wise homeowner and save money and energy this season.

Be a wise homeowner and save money and energy this season.

In our everyday life, we are always looking for ways to save money and energy, and quite often we can easily do both. From the simple task of turning lights off when you leave the room to a larger job of installing an outdoor kitchen from Top Hat Outdoor Living, saving both energy and money can be a breeze this spring and summer with the following strategies recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Windows

You can keep heat from coming in through your windows by installing energy-efficient window treatments like black-out curtains, blinds, or awnings. These will also keep the cool air trapped inside your home.

Thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to where your home is warmer while you are away. Your air conditioner will automatically begin cooling your home before you get home, bringing the temperature down to your normal setting. It also helps to set your thermostat as high as you can stand it during the summer because the difference between the temperatures outside and inside affects your cooling bill.

Ceiling and Ventilating Fans

You can actually raise your thermostat up four degrees when you use a ceiling fan and have no difference in temperature. Just be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room because ceiling fans only cool people, not rooms, because they create a wind-chill effect. The bathroom fan can also be used to save energy by removing heat and humidity when you shower or bathe.

Cooling System

Be sure to have your HVAC system on a regular maintenance schedule. Also vacuum the registers and keep the filters changed to keep your system running problem-free.

Appliances and Lighting

Avoid using the oven; having an outdoor kitchen with a woodfire oven from Top Hat Outdoor Living, or even just a grill, is an excellent way to still cook yet save energy and keep your home cool during the summer. Install ENERGY STAR lighting products and appliances in your house. Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial light. Avoid heat buildup in your home by not doing a lot of activities that burn a lot of electricity like running a computer. Only run the dishwasher if you have a full load of dishes. Similarly, don’t do small loads of laundry.

Hot Air Leaks

Keep hot air out of your house by caulking air leaks around doors and windows. You can also apply weatherstripping to seal up any openings you may have where hot air is leaking into your home.

Water Heater

Since your water heater can be responsible for up to 25% of your energy consumption, you will want to lower its temperature to 120 degrees, the warm setting, lowering costs and risks of scalding your hands with excessively hot water.

Adapting these simple strategies this season can save you both energy and money as well as keep you and your home comfortable and cool.

Biomass-Burning Stove Tax Credit

No one looks forward to tax season with the up all night stress, wondering if you will break even or get audited, and the extra grey hair that somehow manages to pop up.  With New Years right around the corner people will start dragging out boxes of receipts to prepare for that dreaded day, April 15.  But what if you could get some extra money back this year?  Many homeowners are unaware that switching your fireplace unit can actually earn you up to $300 back on your next refund.  Below is some information on how this tax credit works, but the professionals at Top Hat Outdoor Living can also give you advice when it comes to picking the right unit for you and your home.

A pellet stove is an eco-friendly and energy-efficient option. It qualifies for the tax credit as well.

A pellet stove is an eco-friendly and energy-efficient option. It qualifies for the tax credit as well.

You’re probably wondering what this program is, because it probably falls into the too good to be true category.  The Biomass-Burning Stove Tax Credit was developed to influence people to make energy efficient purchases to improve the overall energy efficiency of their home.  This program does not apply to anyone building a new home or in a vacation home.  As mentioned, you can receive up to $300 by buying a qualifying biomass-burning stove or fireplace insert between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2013.  You must have a receipt with purchase date to claim your credit, so if this is something you are considering, now is the time to buy.  To clarify, Biomass is when the stove uses wood or pellet fuel to operate.

Now that you are interested you need to know what qualifies.  And wood- or pellet-burning stove that meets the 75% efficiency rating will be deemed acceptable for the credit.  Manufacturers test these products to make sure they meet efficiency standards and come with the IRS certification when thy leave manufacturing.  This is important because Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act selected the 75% efficiency level.  Your local retailer can tell you what products they sell that meet standards.

Ok, you’re in!  But how do you ensure that you can collect your credit when tax time comes around?  First save the receipt from when you bought the unit.  You also need your manufacturer’s certification statement that contains their name and address, the identification of the class of qualified energy property, and the make and model number of the stove or insert.  For a full list of requirements, visit the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association (HPBA) website to learn more.