The Nature Conservancy logo. Protecting nature. Preserving life.

I’ve recently been blogging about my experience getting an energy audit for my home and how we responded to what the auditors found. Many people think that addressing energy problems in your home is expensive.  What I learned during this process is that there are lots of things you can do that are easy on the wallet; and several things that don’t cost a dime.

Check out my list of 21 ways to decrease your energy bill and your impact on the environment:

7 free ways: No excuses here!

• Keep your thermostat at 68 in winter and 78 in summer (and dress appropriately for the weather of the season).

• Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees: each 10 degree reduction saves you up to 5% on your bill.

• Avoid using the ‘heated dry’ cycle on the dishwasher – just let them air dry
• Conserve water – wash clothes on cold and shorten your shower: this reduces your bill and your impact on a very limited resource.
• Line dry your laundry when the weather is nice.
• Use a ceiling fan in the summer and wear an extra layer in the winter.
• Unplug your electronics when not in use: anything with a LED light glowing (e.g., cell phone charger, computer monitor, etc.) is drawing power even if it is not ‘on.’

7 cheap ways: Small investment, big payoff

• Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent. (Cost: each bulb can save up to $40 over lifetime of bulb and lasts 10 times longer)
• Make sure all your windows and doors are well sealed with caulking or or weatherstripping. (Cost: Less than $100)
• Make sure your plumbing and wiring penetrations are sealed. (Cost: Less than $50)
• Get your heating and cooling system serviced annually to maintain and monitor efficiency. (Cost: The average service call is $75)
• Insulate your hot water heater (Cost: $10, savings up to 9% on your water heating bill)
• Insulate your air compressor and hot water piping. (Cost: Less than $50)
• Change your air filters at least every 3 months. (Cost: $2.50 per filter) 

7 tips for the big ticket items:

• Follow Department of Energy guidelines on insulation – check out the map.
• When replacing your roof, choose the lightest roof color you can handle aesthetically – this will keep the house 10-15% cooler in the summer.
• Get your ducts inspected and repair any holes or faulty connections.
• Because hot water heaters are the second largest energy user – it is important to explore your options when replacing a worn-out unit.
• When you need to replace an appliance, make sure it has an Energy Star rating.
• When replacing windows, be sure the windows are Energy Star certified.
• When replacing an HVAC system, make sure you purchase Energy Star certified equipment and that you buy compatible heating and cooling systems.

For more information on tackling the energy hogs in your home, check out the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s Consumer Resources.

Read parts one and two of this series.

— Text by Stephanie WearCool Green Science Blog

MNN homepage photo: larsjuh/Flickr