Once homeowners have been stung by high energy bills, they’re quickly motivated to save resources and money. Check out these energy-saving tips. While some require a significant investment, others are relatively cheap or even free.
Cheaper options include:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED or fluorescent bulbs, also called CFLs. The initial cost of these bulbs is higher, but you’ll recoup your investment in lower electricity bills. You also won’t have to replace your bulbs as frequently as you do with incandescents. A house with about 50 LED or CFL bulbs saves almost $100 in electricity costs per year.
- Turn off the lights. Make it a habit to turn off all lights and ceiling fans when you leave a room.
- Plug televisions, DVD players and other equipment into power strips and turn them off when not in use. Otherwise, these devices will draw so-called “phantom” power.
- Wash only full loads of clothes and full loads of dishes. Anything that runs on a motor uses a fair amount of electricity, so get maximum use each time.
- Check, and if needed, replace outside caulk around windows. You want to help keep your house warm in winter and cool during the summer.
- Use your window treatments as an energy tool. Keep the blinds and curtains drawn in the summer to keep the heat out, but keep them open on sunny winter days to let the sun in.
- Set a timer on your showers. Long hot showers are nice, but can rack up energy costs. Also, keep your water heater thermostat at 120 degrees.
- Set your home’s thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the warmer months. Experiment by testing the limits of your comfort level. Start at 78 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the cooler months. Dress in layers, if you have a difference of opinion in your household.
- Buy a programmable thermostat. Set a schedule for your home temperature based on your family’s daily schedule. Each day of the week can be programmed separately. That way, you won’t be unnecessarily heating or cooling the house when you are away.
More expensive energy-saving options:
- Look for the “Energy Star” approval sticker on appliances when it’s time to buy a replacement. That sticker verifies that the appliance meets the U. S. Department of Energy standards for energy-efficient operation.
- Improve the insulation in your attic. Insulation is measured in “R” value, a number that measures the insulation’s ability to resist heat transference. Put somewhat simplistically, the higher the R-value, the better it resists heat flow. In southern climates you should have R-30 value in your attic, for moderate climates R-38 and in cold northern climates R-49. Most heat transference in a home happens through the ceiling just under the attic. By ensuring there is enough R-factor insulation in the attic, usually by blowing in loose insulation, you keep heat in the home in winter and out of the home in summer.
- Check for older single-pane glass windows. Most houses built in the last 30 years have double-pane glass windows. But replacement windows may be necessary in older homes with single-pane glass windows.
- Keep your heating and cooling system well maintained. This will help you get the most for your money on an existing system. Replacing a system is expensive, but when that time comes, you should see a significant drop in energy costs. Also be sure to see if there are any federal, state or local energy rebate programs to help defray the cost of your new heating and cooling system.