7 Green Initiatives to Help You Save Money and the Planet

Sabrina Lopez
April 15, 2016
4 min read

Adding a solar energy system to your home provides far more than independence from rising energy bills — it’s also a great way to eliminate tons of CO2 and other harmful pollutants generated by fossil-fuel-based power plants. As Earth Day (April 22nd) approaches, here are some often overlooked tips and tricks to go greener in Arizona: lower your utility bills and do your part to help the planet.

1. Lower Water Heater Temperatures: Relentless summer sun keeps Arizona’s aqueducts warm and our “cold” water more like a tepid bath. Rather than using energy to keep this already-warm water hot, lower your water heater temperature to the lowest possible setting to reduce unnecessary heating cycles. As a bonus, don’t leave hot water running when rinsing dishes or washing hands. This can save hundreds of gallons per year.

2. Plant Shade Trees Strategically: For maximum shade and lower summer-time energy consumption, plant trees on your home's west and northwest sides for mid-to-late afternoon shade. You can also plant shade trees over sidewalks and driveways to reduce heat-island effects and over exterior A/C units to reduce daytime heat buildup.  

3. Install Awnings and Sun Shades: Even in temperatures of 50ºF or less, you can still feel warm in the sun but notice the chill immediately upon entering the shade. The same applies to how your home is heated from the sun’s rays. Installing awnings or sun shades over west and south-facing windows reduces interior solar warming by up to 65% and dramatically lowers overall cooling needs and energy consumption.

4. Raise Interior Temps: Setting your A/C to 78ºF instead of 72ºF can save an estimated 6-18% on your cooling bills.

5. Explore Time-of-Use Rate Plans: Utilities generally charge more money for power during high-demand hours, also known as “on-peak” hours. Fortunately, most utilities also offer rate plans that incentivize customers to shift their high energy demand into cheaper off-peak hours. By shifting to a time-of-use rate plan, you can see dramatic savings by pre-cooling your house during off-peak hours and raising your thermostat temperature during costlier on-peak hours (1-7 p.m. with APS, for example). 

6. Install Ceiling Fans: Studies show that ceiling fans allow you to raise your thermostat by 4ºF and use less energy with no noticeable reduction in comfort.

7Go “Old-School”: Take advantage of springtime’s cool nights by shutting off your A/C and sleeping with your windows open at night. To keep cool air in during daylight, shut your windows and close all window shades/shutters each morning. You might even take a tip from turn-of-the-century Phoenicians and try placing wet sheets directly from the washer onto your bed for a nighttime cooling effect.

Through a combination of these green tips and tricks, and larger changes like Energy Star Appliances, Low-E windows and a solar energy system, you can make a substantial impact on your energy usage, monthly budget, and our planet. If you’d like to learn more about solar's role, we invite you to request a complimentary solar evaluation from one of our solar experts today!