Fifteen Ways to Save Money and Reduce Your Energy Costs
Looking to lower your utility bill and do right by the planet at the same time? Check out the following 15 tips to help you reduce your energy consumption around the home and start saving today.
Content provided by Georgia-Pacific - Green Workplace
1. Talk to the Energy Experts
Many power companies offer free home energy audits to customers, during which they offer recommendations about how to make your home more energy efficient. Some also offer rebates when you install energy-saving equipment – so find out how you can participate.
2. Set It and Forget It
Constantly changing the temperature in your home causes your system to work harder. In the winter, set your thermostat at 68 degrees in daytime, and 55 degrees at night. In the summer, keep it at 78 degrees.
3. Use Water Wisely
Install inexpensive low-flow showerheads to help conserve water. Most use only between 0.5 and 2 gallons per minute—a significant reduction for most households.
Water heating costs make up about 20 percent of your home's total energy bill. Set your water heater to 120 degrees and wrap it with an insulated blanket so it doesn’t require as much energy to heat up.
Ninety percent of the energy used in washing clothes goes toward heading the water. Washing in warm or cold water is far more energy efficient than using hot water.
4. Lighten Up
Use energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Although they cost a little more up front, they save serious dough in the long run. CFLs provide the same amount of light but only use one-fourth the energy of an ordinary incandescent bulb. Plus, they last 8 to 12 times longer.
Auto-shut off light switches will turn your lights off for you after a set period of time or at specific times of day.
5. Make It Automatic
If you’re out of the house all day, a programmable thermostat can let you keep the temperature low and then kick on automatically 30-minutes before you get home. That way, you save during the day but don’t come home to an ice palace.
Configure your computer to "hibernate" automatically after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Pick up a few auto-shut off safety outlets. Plug in any appliance and set a time for it to automatically turn off.
6. Stop Leaks
Fix leaky faucets. One drip a second can use 20 kilowatts of energy a month, which adds about one dollar a month to your energy bill. If the drip is a hot water leak, the energy costs could be even higher.
Seal energy leaks. Caulk over cracks and small holes around windows and exterior walls, and invest in weather-stripping kits to help seal drafty doors.
7. Renovate & Insulate
When replacing a roof, select an energy-efficient one. Light-colors such as white, galvanized metal or cement tile, do a better job of reflecting the sun and cool quickly at night.
Proper insulation can save 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills. A home energy audit can help you determine areas where more insulation is needed.
Thermostat® plywood radiant barrier sheathing can help keep your attic up to 30 degrees cooler on hot summer days. It reflects up to 97 percent of the sun’s radiant heat, which can greatly improve energy efficiency in the home. In the Southeast, it can help decrease a home’s annual cooling costs by 8 percent.
8. Love the Land
Landscaping around your home with the right mix of trees and shrubs can lower your energy costs by blocking winter winds or the summer sun. Plus, it looks nice!
You also can set up an awning outside to help reduce your home’s exposure to the sun. The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain by as much as 65 percent on windows with southern exposures and 77 percent on those with western exposures.
9. Fight the Phantom
Even when home appliances are turned off, their combined "standby" consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75- or 100-watt light bulb running continuously.
Unplugging appliances can save around $10 every month on your utility bill.
Use power strips to make switching off multiple appliances easier when you're not using them.
10. Upgrade Your Windows
An average home may lose 30 percent of its heat or air-conditioning energy through its windows so upgrading to energy-efficient windows can save you money every month!
Replacing ordinary windows with argon filled, double-glazed windows can help insulate your home. The argon helps reduce the amount of heat conducted from the inside out, so it’s especially helpful for colder climates.
11. Construct Carefully
If you’re looking to build a home, consider energy efficient wood. Houses made with wood frames use approximately 16 percent less energy than those made with non-wood frames. Because wood is 400 times less heat conductive than steel, homes built with wood studs take less energy to heat and cool. As an insulator, wood is also 15 times better than concrete.
Wood panels are more resistant to temperature transfers than metal frames and masonry materials, providing more energy efficiency.
12. Purchase Power
When buying a major appliance, opt for one with the "Energy Star" sticker, demonstrating that it meets or exceeds standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you’re looking for an appliance upgrade, a front-loading washing machine is a great place to start. They use 50 percent less energy and one-third less water. They also usually cut hot water use by 60 to 70 percent compared to conventional machines.
13. Keep It Clean
Clean or replace air filters in your home heating and cooling system as recommended (usually a couple of times a year). When filters are dirty, your air conditioner and hot-air furnace have to work harder to pull air through them, using more energy. This simple task will also help improve air quality in your home.
14. Fill ‘Em Up
Make sure your dishwasher is full when you run it, and use the energy saving setting if available. Let dishes air-dry instead of running a drying cycle and you’ll save about 20 percent of the washer’s total electricity use.
The same thing goes for the clothes washer and dryer. Don’t waste energy and water doing half-loads. And be sure to clear out the lint filter regularly to keep the dryer running efficiently.
15. Go Low Tech
Use ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner during the summer. Use a clothesline or laundry rack instead of a dryer. Keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight in and closed at night to reduce the chill. During the hot days of summer, avoid running appliances that create heat and don’t do a lot of cooking.
The content above was provided by Georgia-Pacific - Green Workplace and is not subject to MNN Editorial Review. MNN is not responsible for the accuracy, objectivity or balance of this content.