Who doesn’t like to save money? With modern technology and helpful tips, it is so easy to save money by saving energy at home. Not only does lower energy usage make your wallet fatter, it also means less energy consumed, which helps reduce harmful emissions released into our environment. The best part of these savings is that they are a result of simple changes made by you and there is no need for major renovation. Saving energy in your home reduces our nation's need for resources needed to make energy.
According to the U.S. department of Energy, the 113 million residences in America today “collectively use an estimated 22% of the country's energy”. Regrettably, a large portion of this energy is wasted through easy fixes like drafty windows and old appliances. The average home in the U.S. consumes $2,000+ each year on home utility bills. Try utilizing the following tips to reduce your bills up to 25% this year.
One of the most important things to remember is that in order to save big, it is necessary to not only make one or two adjustments, but to recognize necessary change throughout the house and make action. Through viewing your home as a holistic energy system you will notice that many parts of your home are very much interconnected—your heating system is more than a furnace —it’s a warming system that begins at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home through utilizing a matrix of ducts. Even if you purchase the highest end, most energy-efficient furnace, it will not be of its full value if the ducts, windows, walls, attic, and doors are leaky or poorly insulated. Clearly, taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely. Here’s a list of some ideas to get you started in your attempt to save money and make your home more energy efficient:
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programming thermostats can be complicated but an un-programmed thermostat can waste 20% on your heating and cooling bill. By automatically adjusting your home’s temperature to your schedule, you keep your home comfortable only when you need it to be and save money. If you don’t already adjust your thermostat throughout the day, a programmable thermostat could save you as much as 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
One great option is the Nest thermostat system. Through simply turning your temperature up and down to adjust for comfortability, the Nest Thermostat learns what temperatures you like and builds a personalized schedule. Over a number of days, it will learn efficient temperatures for your family, and within a week it will start setting them on its own.
2. Reduce Phantom Loads
A “phantom load” is the energy that an appliance or electronic device uses when it is not actually turned on. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” To easily eliminate phantom loads, plug your appliances and electronics into a power strip and simply turn the strip off when they are not in use.
3. Consider Purchasing Energy-efficient Appliances
If you are taking the next step to make your home efficient and are searching for new appliances, be sure to purchase ones with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label. These appliances use between 10 and 50 percent less energy and water than their traditional substitutes. These appliances will be pricier, but will save each month on your utility bills and will also likely qualify for a tax credit for making the purchase!
According to Zillow, a 12-year-old refrigerator uses around twice the amount of energy as a brand-new energy-efficient model. And with the hot summer days ahead, your appliances will be working over time. So if you have an older appliance and have your tax refund dollars on hand, purchasing an energy-efficient appliance is a great way to save money each month to come!
4. Insulate Your Home Well
More than 50 percent of a home’s energy use goes toward heating and cooling. Adding to the insulation in your house’s attic, walls, floors and ceilings will slow the flow of air between the inside and outside of your home and will help you maintain your home’s temperature.
Low levels of insulation and gaps in the insulation materials can provide pathways for heat and air to easily flow into or out of a home. The U.S. Department of Energy's number one recommendation to help consumers reduce energy bills is by adding insulation. Any home that is 5-10 years old is likely to be poorly insulated, so be sure to have your insulation checked if your home is older or seems to be drafty.
5. Save Water
Using less water lowers both your water bill and your gas or electric bill. According to DOE, water heating is the third most energy consuming function in the home. To shave down your water use take showers instead of baths and fill the sink when washing your dishes rather than keeping the water flowing as you rinse. Another way to save is by turning down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting or to 120° F and you will save energy and avoid burning yourself!
6. Make Windows More Efficient
Though sealing your windows well is a must, window glass is still a thin barrier to keep temperatures outside. New storm windows are now the gold standard for energy efficiency in the home. They reduce temperature loss by sealing leaks and creating a dead airspace between window panes. Installation can be quite expensive but depending on how many windows you have, they have a relatively short, ten year return on investment.
If replacement windows are out of your budget, one way to fight outdoor temperatures from sneaking in is by covering your windows with a transparent thin plastic that will improve insulation. Energy gurus also recommend using bubble wrap and estimates that it can reduce heat loss from a window by half.
While on the topic of windows, you can make them work for you by gaining cool air and keeping out heat. If the climate where you live cools off at night, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping and shut the windows when you wake up to contain the cool air.
7. Change Your Light Bulbs
Replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs is one of the least expensive and most effective energy efficiency changes you can make. Compact fluorescent light bulbs cost only a few dollars and save consumers around $30 over its life span. These bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.
8. Use Fans for Cooling
In the warm spring and summer months try using ceiling and whole-house fans to cool your home and reduce the need for air conditioning. For each degree you raise your thermostat in warmer months, you reduce your cooling costs 7 to 10 percent.
Utilizing a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F without compromising your comfort. Be sure to turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room because fans cool people, not rooms, by generating a wind-chill effect.
When it comes to saving energy at home, you can see that there are many affordable and some no-cost options to keep your energy bill low. If you’ve successfully addressed the issues listed above, it might be time to consider incorporating clean energy into your home energy-saving strategy through utilizing solar energy.
With the advance of technology in the growing solar power industry, prices for solar panels have fallen drastically. There are even a number of great ways to get affordable financing in your solar power endeavor.
Also, taxpayers who made certain energy efficient improvements to their home or purchased energy-efficient products are eligible to receive tax credits!