You can save big money by changing your energy habits. Today, most things we use are run by electricity, but have we become over-dependent? What are the alternatives? If you haven’t already, conduct an energy assessment to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.
Here are a handful of tips to revise your energy habits that can pay big dividends, month after month.
Electronics and Appliances
Did you know that 75% of the power used by home electronics is consumed while they are off?
- Plug electronics into a power strip, and remember to turn the strip off when not in use to save energy costs.
- Avoid energy vampires. Even when appliances/electronics are turned off (those that are plugged in), they are in “standby” mode, which still uses energy to power features such as clock displays.
- Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified TVs. They are up to 30% more efficient than noncertified models.
- Unplug battery chargers when batteries are fully charged or aren’t in use.
Older appliances may still do the job, but were not designed with today’s energy efficiency. At an unexpected, inconvenient time, a refrigerator or other appliance may need costly repair or replacement.
- Use microwaves and toaster ovens to cook or warm leftovers, less energy is used in comparison to a conventional oven.
- If you have a second fridge located in the garage or utility room, it is time to pull the plug. There are numerous places you can call to pick it up for a small recycling fee.
- Keep you refrigerator temperature between 30-42°F. If you have a power-save switch, turn it on.
- If your refrigerator is from the 90’s, you may want to consider purchasing a new energy efficient model to lower operating costs.
- Dust your fridge. Check the coils behind the refrigerator and use coil vacuums or dusters to clean it off and keep costs down.
- Keep your freezer full – it uses les energy than an empty one. For maximum savings, consider filling your freezer with gallon containers of water.
- Set your dishwasher on economy mode, to use less water and electricity.
Cover Drafty Windows
- Use a heavy duty, clear plastic sheet or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
- Install tight-fitting insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
- Or you could install storm windows for those brutal winter months. These windows can help reduce heat loss by 25-50%
Find and Seal Leaks
- Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes (“plumbing penetrations”), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
- Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
- Replace standard bulbs with CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, and give off the same amount of light.
- Choose outdoor CFLs for outdoor lighting; they last up to 10 times longer than standard light bulbs.
- Replace halogen light bulbs. They can get extremely hot and become a fire hazard.
- Use motion-detector lights for all your outdoor lighting; they are convenient and efficient.
- Select light-colored or opaque lamp shades and place lamps in corners so they reflect light from two walls.
- Schedule service for your heating system.
- Furnaces: Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed
- Cover all bare floors; carpeting or rugs add heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.
- Raise the temperature slowly to keep your bill lower. Quickly raising your heat pump’s temperature activates the heat strip, which uses a large amount of energy.
- Your thermostat should be set to 68-70 degrees during the day in the winter months, and 65-68 degrees at night to keep your home comfortable and save on heating costs.
- Limit your use of portable heaters. Even though they are useful for “spot” heating, running a 1,500-watt heater all day can be pricey.
- Although the warm months are coming to an end, you can still utilize the sun. Leave window shades/blinds up during the day.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
- Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home.
- Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). It will save you money while keeping water hot enough for showers and cleaning dishes.
- Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes.
- Check your hot water pipes for leaks, which can drain energy savings.
- Take shorter showers to cut down on hot water costs.
- If you have an older water heater, get an insulation wrap to help your old water heater heat more effectively.
- Keep warm air in your house and cold air out with proper chimney maintainance.
- Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter, it allows warms air to go right up the chimney.
- When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly, approximately 1 inch, and close doors leading into the room.
- Lower the thermostat setting somewhere in between 50°-55°F.
- If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
- If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
- Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
- Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
- Add caulking around the fireplace hearth.
We hope that these tips are helpful. If you have your own energy saving tips, please feel free to share your knowledge. Stay warm, save money and conserve energy.