RICHARDSON, Texas — The annual Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey found the majority of homeowners are attempting to conserve energy, but many are still looking to do better. The survey found that 98 percent of homeowners are trying to conserve energy in some fashion, to either help save money and/or protect the environment. Homeowners give themselves above average marks in energy conservation; half of homeowners (50 percent) gave their household a “B” when grading their household energy efficiency, while less than one third (19 percent) gave themselves a “C.”

“Though most people make an effort to be energy efficient year-round, the summer season makes it a more top-of-mind issue, given that electricity bills are on the rise and homeowners are starting to feel it in their pocketbook,” said Lennox energy efficiency expert Bobby DiFulgentiz. “The Lennox Home Energy Report Card survey found that homeowners think they are doing a pretty good job at finding ways to eliminate energy eaters and save money in the long run, but there is still more that can be done. A few simple actions can help homeowners increase comfort and cut costs without investing a lot of time and effort.”

Homeowners shared their efforts on conserving energy at home, which include changing air filters regularly (84 percent), turning down the temperature on the hot water heater (68 percent), utilizing programmable thermostats (60 percent), and unplugging electronics when not in use (50 percent, up 6 percent from 2013). More homeowners are willing to replace old, inefficient HVAC units with a more efficient model (59 percent, up 9 percent from 2013) and use solar energy to power appliances (24 percent, up 4 percent from 2013) than last year. Although solar energy installations and newer HVAC systems are investments in the home, homeowners are seeing past the sticker price and realizing the long-term benefits of more significant upgrades and changes.

More people than in past years (39 percent, up 9 percent from 2013) said they would turn off their air conditioning system completely, an action that actually may earn a failing grade.

“While turning off your air conditioning or heating system seems like a good idea in theory, it is really making your unit work overtime,” said DiFulgentiz. “This can actually decrease energy efficiency and counteract any potential savings because the system has to work much harder and run longer to cool the home. Installing a smart programmable thermostat — one that allows users to adjust the temperature in a home from anywhere through a website or app, such as the Lennox iComfort Wi-Fi — is a good solution to help balance comfort and efficiency while maximizing savings.”

Although homeowners are “going green,” more than half (56 percent) conserve energy to save money, while protecting the environment is the driving force of others (36 percent).

Homeowners ease their guilt about energy usage by recycling and reusing. Nearly all homeowners (98 percent) are participating in eco-friendly activities, such as recycling paper, aluminum or glass (87 percent), reusing water bottles (72 percent), buying local or organic produce (65 percent), planting trees (62 percent), using mass transportation/carpooling (26 percent), or driving a hybrid car (13 percent).

Changes in weather aren’t the only reason homeowners are motivated to crank up (or down) the a/c. Homeowners are making a conscious decision to adjust the thermostat when performing everyday activities as well.

The Lennox Home Energy Report Survey indicated homeowners are adjusting their temperature when sleeping (66 percent), entertaining (49 percent), exercising (26 percent), cooking (25 percent), and when making love (20 percent). Altering the temperature while doing these activities can ensure homeowners earn an “A” in comfort, even if it means spending a little more on the electric bill.

The survey found the majority of homeowners are more willing to turn off their TV (25 percent) than shut off their air conditioner (17 percent). However, what homeowners would unplug varied by region. In the South, where the heat can be unbearable and a homeowner’s air conditioner is vital during the summer, only a few (7 percent) said they would turn off their air conditioner, while more (29 percent) would prefer to turn off their television.

“In certain areas during the summer, specifically the South, a central air conditioning system is imperative to get through the heat of season,” said DiFulgentiz. “Saving energy is important, but maintaining a comfortable household can trump almost everything else when homeowners consider what they can and can’t live without. And with an efficient cooling system, they can have both.”

When asked how willing homeowners were to turn the thermostat up to save $50 a month on their utility bill, one in three (32 percent) would be willing to raise their thermostat three to six degrees, while two in 10 would not go any higher than one or two degrees.

“Since comfort is key for many homeowners during the summertime, few are willing to raise the thermostat to save significant cash,” said DiFulgentiz. “Luckily, homeowners can save as much as 1 percent for each degree the thermostat is raised if the setback period is eight hours long. Ceiling fans are another great way to keep cool and save during the summer since fans allow homeowners to raise the thermostat by four degrees Fahrenheit with no reduction in comfort.”

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Publication date: 6/30/2014

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