Save Money Through Energy Efficiency

MISSION, KS—(Marketwired – Aug 21, 2017) – (Family Features) As much as half of the average homeowner's monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home–related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment.

Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you're away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy morning and kicks back on before you arrive home can help you earn these savings and reduce energy consumption.

Home Automation
Newer smart, programmable thermostats can be controlled remotely by internet–connected devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Some models can also monitor your energy usage and system efficiency, providing data to help you make further adjustments to how you operate your HVAC system.

Lighting is another major energy challenge. However, smart light bulbs let you adjust your home's ambiance (and energy usage) with just a couple of quick taps. Paired with motion sensors that detect movement (or a lack thereof) and adjust lighting accordingly, smart bulbs can help reduce the waste of energy caused by lighting unused rooms.

Similarly, smartphone applications that connect to other appliances, utilities and home features offer the best of personalized comfort and convenience while providing tools to help minimize your home's energy consumption.

Zoned Climate Control
If you're like most homeowners, there are parts of your house that simply don't get much use or only get used during certain times of the day. Maintaining the temperature in those uninhabited areas can be costly and wasteful. As an alternative, an option such as zoned climate control allows you to stay comfortable in the rooms you use without spending a fortune on energy bills.

While a zoned system is generally considered a premium home feature, it isn't unattainable and actually offers long–term savings, due to its energy–efficient operation. The home is divided into zones, designated by floors, rooms or areas — however the homeowner chooses — which eliminates the “all on” feature of traditional air conditioners.

A system like Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating's Zoned Comfort Solutions offers a true zoning–system with convenient controls and automation, along with whisper–quiet operation. Both ducted and non–ducted units are available depending on the space and occupant needs. Additionally, some models have advanced filtration features to help eliminate allergens, contributing to improved air quality.

For a new build, installing a zoned system from the outset is relatively simple. However, zoned systems are also a possible solution for replacing your home's HVAC system or rectifying a problem with a single uncomfortable room. Pairing the system with sensors or remote app controls can bring operating costs even lower through computerized automation.

Renewable Energy
Another option to offset some of your home's energy and utility costs is generating your own renewable energy through solar or wind power systems. Installation depends on many variables, such as how much energy you use, local codes and standards, and whether the house and surrounding terrain are situated to allow you to capture adequate natural power. For a home under construction, your builder should be able to offer guidance; for an existing home, contacting a local renewable energy organization or state office is a smart first step.

Find more ways to save money on your energy bill at mitsubishicomfort.com.

Cost Control

A state–of–the–art zoned climate control system can be configured to your specific needs, but all the customization options can make it tricky to predict how much your installation might cost. Taking into account these variables can give you a better sense of how much you'll be spending.

New equipment. Each system includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant line–set, wiring and electrical accessories. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than cooling and heating a home with eight or more zones. Generally, new equipment comes in between $3,000–$15,000, depending on the number of zones and size of the home.

Labor. This is what you will pay a licensed HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old one, if necessary). Contractors' labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount roughly equal to your equipment cost, depending on your geographic location and the complexity of the installation.

Additional costs. Depending on your existing system, you may incur costs for items such as electrical work to install a new 240V outlet ($200–$1,000, or more if your electrical panel requires a new circuit); an equipment pad, stand or brackets for the outdoor unit ($50–$300); ductwork (prices vary greatly depending on the home); and controller options (approximately $200–$300 each).

Unique situations. Some homes, such as older homes, high–performance homes and homes in extreme cold–weather regions, often require auxiliary heat or specialized designs or equipment, all of which can impact the cost of the system. However, with Mitsubishi Electric's Zoned Comfort Solutions, 100 percent heating down to a 5 F outdoor temperature can be attained.

Rebates. Some states offer rebates for the installation of more energy–efficient appliances, including HVAC systems. These rebates can help offset some of the upfront costs associated with installing zoned systems. Consider speaking with a professional or researching available rebates in your region before purchasing a new system.

About Family Features Editorial Syndicate
Established in 1974, Family Features is a leading provider of free food and lifestyle content for print and online publications. Our articles, photos, videos and web content solutions save you time, money and help create advertising opportunities. Registration is fast and free — with absolutely no obligation. Visit editors.familyfeatures.com for more information.

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Tips to Get Involved at Your Child's School

MISSION, KS—(Marketwired – Aug 21, 2017) – (Family Features) For some parents, back–to–school season can be bittersweet as they watch their kids grow more independent each year. Taking on an active role at your child's school is a simple way to provide support and stay engaged.

Whether your schedule is relatively open or you're juggling multiple demands, there are ways for virtually all families to participate in their children's classrooms.

Volunteer in the classroom. Today's teachers are busier than ever, developing classroom lessons, teaching to rigorous curriculum standards, coaching and chairing extracurricular activities and tackling their own professional development goals. This can leave little down time to coordinate special activities or classroom celebrations, but that's where parent volunteers can play an essential role.

Develop relationships with teachers. Creating a connection with your child's teacher can be based on more than checking in on performance and behavior. Sharing resources and ideas with teachers makes you an ally and an asset to the classroom. One example is the Tom's of Maine “Green Your School Fund,” which will give $1 million to classrooms nationwide this year so students can roll up their sleeves and tackle hands–on environmental projects to understand the impact they can have on the planet today and tomorrow. Learn more about the program and how you can help your child's teacher submit a creative environmental classroom project at GreenSchoolFund.com.

Join a formal organization. School organizations like the Parent Teacher Association are designed specifically to engage parents in the education system. Members have a direct connection to news about what's happening in the school, an avenue to share concerns and means for inspiring change and bringing about school improvements.

Take part in field trips. Many rich learning opportunities exist outside the classroom, but those activities are often limited by chaperone availability. Both schools and most field trip destinations require certain student–to–chaperone ratios for safety and optimal learning. Joining a classroom field trip not only allows you to share the experience side–by–side with your own child, but makes the outing possible for other children as well.

Share your talents. There are ways parents can get involved without straying too far from what they know best. Volunteering to speak at a career day in your child's class is a simple way to share real–world experiences and help prepare the next generation of leaders. Of course, if you're looking for something a little more hands–on, many schools welcome community support to help build props or sew costumes for the school play, host a lesson on a favorite artist, share cultural traditions or help run activities like science fairs or field days.

If you're unsure how to get started, contact your student's teacher or the school's main office and ask for guidance on where you can make the biggest impact.

About Family Features Editorial Syndicate
Established in 1974, Family Features is a leading provider of free food and lifestyle content for print and online publications. Our articles, photos, videos and web content solutions save you time, money and help create advertising opportunities. Registration is fast and free — with absolutely no obligation. Visit editors.familyfeatures.com for more information.

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