Bellevue Weather: 10 Tips to Save on Energy Costs Throughout the Year
Bellevue has weather that many residents find ideal. It tends to be cold, wet, and more overcast in the winter and warm and dry in the summer. However, Bellevue doesn’t experience many of the weather extremes seen in other places of the country.
Average temperatures run between 37 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures rarely dipping into the 20s or soaring into the 90s. Homeowners still want to maximize their energy efficiency, though. Here are 10 tips on how you can save on energy costs throughout the year from the top real estate agents Bellevue, WA residents rely on for advice.
Seal and Insulate the Home Properly
One of the best ways to make your home energy efficient is to ensure outside air stays on the outside and vice versa. If your home feels drafty, if your heating bills are high, or if you can see areas that aren’t sealed properly, it’s time for an energy audit.
Have a team of professionals evaluate your home to see where warm or cold air might be escaping. If you are looking at homes for sale in Bellevue, WA, make sure your inspector checks to see that the home isn’t losing energy. Add insulation to walls, crawl spaces, and attics as needed. Caulk windows and add weather stripping to prevent losing energy to the outdoors.
Install Thermal Windows and Doors
While some people still use storm windows, many have switched to more modern thermal windows and doors. These are much easier to use and don’t have to be put in or taken down with the change in season.
Thermal windows and doors are made out of special materials that prevent the flow of thermal energy across the barrier. Usually, they are constructed of two or more thin layers of glass with an inert gas in between each layer. Heat doesn’t escape in the winter as easily and cool air-conditioned air stays put in the summer.
Use High-Quality Window Treatments
You can increase the efficiency of any windows by installing appropriate window treatments. Look for window treatments that don’t let drafts through the fabric. Treatments that wrap all the way around to the wall will be even more effective.
Don’t Forget About the Garage
One area where many homeowners don’t realize heat is escaping is the garage. If you are losing thermal energy through your garage, consider installing an insulated door. You can also add a sweep below the door so there is no gap underneath.
Create Entry Buffer Zones
Are you remodeling part of your home? Now is a good time to think about building in entryways with buffer zones to protect your home’s temperature.
At the rear or side of the home, a mudroom or laundry room with its own door to the interior can function as an airlock. Likewise, an old-fashioned separate foyer that is, in essence, its own room creates a buffer at the front of the home.
Service Your HVAC System
Ideally, you should service your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system at least once per year. If it’s within your budget, twice per year in the spring and fall is even better. Additionally, follow these tips for the best savings:
• Install energy efficient furnaces and air conditioning units.
• Purchase the right size furnace and air conditioner for your size house.
• Replace filters regularly according to use and the manufacturer’s suggestions.
• Keep debris cleared from around outdoor air conditioning units.
• Clean heating ducts periodically and seal and insulate them as needed.
• Bleed radiators at the start of winter by opening the valve, releasing the air inside while catching any drips, and then re-tightening the valve.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Rather than manually adjusting your thermostat, install a programmable one. You set the times you want to raise or lower the temperature, and the thermostat does the rest. To get the most from a programmable thermostat, AKA “setback” thermostat:
• Install zoned heating for each level of the home, using a different thermostat for each zone.
• When you’re home, set the thermostat to adjust the temperature at bedtime and again on waking. (Most thermostats have a separate weekend calendar.)
• For normal use, set your heater to about 68 degrees and your air conditioner to about 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
• When you leave the home, raise or lower the temperature until just prior to your return.
• If you leave home for more than a day or two, adjust the thermostat even higher or lower.
Consider Alternatives to Conventional Heating and Air Conditioning
If you don’t have central air conditioning in your home, you can install window units, but given Bellevue’s pleasant weather, ceiling fans may be more economical. To cool your home with a ceiling fan, set it to run counterclockwise.
You can also augment your furnace’s efficacy by using a ceiling fan. Set it to circle clockwise to push down warm air, which naturally wants to rise to the ceiling.
A whole-house fan on the roof can accomplish what ceiling fans do on a macro level. Most people like these fans to suck up warm air on hot evenings and pull it out of the house to be replaced with cooler air from outside.
Turn down your thermostat whenever you use your fireplace. An alternative to a traditional hearth is a wood stove, which may be able to heat your entire home depending on the size of the home and the stove’s output.
Take Advantage of Thermal Conductivity
Thermal conductivity is a material’s ability to conduct heat. For example, step out of your shower with bare feet onto a marble floor. You’ll notice the floor conducts heat from your body much faster than a plush fabric bath mat.
You can take advantage of thermal conductivity in your home. The home’s exterior fabric and color can absorb or repel heat from the sun as you need it to. Natural materials like stone, brick, and stucco tend to absorb heat more, while synthetic materials are less likely to retain the sun’s warmth.
Likewise, in the home’s interior, a large stone hearth opposite a south-facing window will soak up the sun’s warmth and radiate it back into the home later--great if you have a chilly family room.
Other Energy Saving Tips
Finally, there are a few other tips you can put to use to make your home more energy efficient:
• Close doors to rooms you’re not using, turn off baseboard heaters, and shut forced air vents in these rooms.
• Think about heated floors and towel bars in chilly bathrooms. Heated floors are also nice if you have small kids who play on the floor, in rooms where you walk barefoot, and in spaces with high ceilings, since heat rises.
• Install awnings over windows and patio sliders that let in too much sun in summer (you can retract them in winter when the warmth is welcome).
• Wrap your hot water heater with an insulating material to prevent heat loss there as well. Another option is to install an on-demand, tankless water heater.
• Use covers on heated swimming pools and hot tubs to retain warmth.
Bellevue has some of the best weather on the West Coast for people who like moderate temperatures with a real change of seasons. Follow the tips above and you can enjoy living in Bellevue even when the weather reaches its yearly highs and lows.