With the rising costs of life in general, everyone is looking to save a little green these days. A major expenditure for most of us are our home energy bills. By using technology, common sense and constant awareness of power consumption, we can help you reduce your home energy costs.
To start a low-power diet, most assume it will be a disruptive formula, much like cave-dwelling and technological darkness. With our tried-and-true methods, you can slash those bills for good, with minimal disruption.
Before we get to the more involved methods, it begs the mention of the more often overlooked, if overtly obvious methods to get us fired up for greater cost savings. Things such as:
- Unplugging chargers when not in use
- Using a sleep mode for electronics like computers, laptops and tablets
- Running full loads of laundry to optimize efficiency
- Using curtains or blinds to allow or block sunlight
While these are strategies most have heard before, they should also be common practice. Instead of rehashing the basic strategies listed above, we want to focus on methods that are less obvious but offer more cost savings.
For ease of use, we have divided our 10 methods into categories based on skill level and approximate cost: easy ($), Intermediate ($$) and Advanced ($$$). Obviously, the higher the difficulty, the more effort is required. However, it also offers a higher cost savings. No matter your choice, integrating any of these options will help reduce those energy bills!
- Shed Some Light On Cost:
Most bathrooms and kitchens have 2 to 4 bulbs each, which with standard light bulbs makes for 120 to 240 watts of wasted electricity per hour. By switching to compact fluorescents (CFL) or the even better LED bulbs, you gain bulb lifespan in addition to a watt reduction to 20 to 50 per hour.
Timers and even remote controlled switches can all aid in these cost reductions by preventing sources from running at full wattage or while not being used.
- Tell Me What You Use, What You Really Really Use:
That treadmill in your room? You know, the one that only saw use from January 1st to January 15th? Just by being plugged in, it is drawing power and costing you money. Same goes for all of the video game consoles and DVD players.
By evaluating what you use, and how you use it, you can better correct these wasteful charges. By implementing a dedicated power strip to similarly used items, it will become easier to turn them off with the push of a button.
- Go with the Flow:
Simple fixes like frequent air filter changes can help make a dent in your energy costs, but going one step further by utilizing ceiling fans to help keep air circulating can help regulate temperature.
With all of the joys that central air can bring, it can often be inefficient in maintaining a consistent air temperature. Employing the use of fans will not cool the air, but they will help keep the heat from rising up and out during the winter.
- Vent TLC:
It is important to show your HVAC system a little love through the years. Having vents cleaned can help significantly reduce allergens as well as ensure that all vents are disbursing air as they should be.
In addition to having your vents cleaned, it also bears mentioning that all vents should be inspected to be sure they are, in fact, open. It is a common myth that shutting certain vents helps to reduce costs. In actuality, it forces the HVAC unit to work much harder to divert that air to only the open vents, thus running more frequently and for longer durations. Thereby, costing you more money.
- Insulation Is the Key:
Before you go looking for a certain pink panther, take inventory and devise a plan for insulation, as there can be too much of a good thing. Insulation is a double-edged sword that is a little bit of a balancing act. Too little and you open yourself up to astronomical energy costs. Too much and you risk problems such as mold and condensation. Both the basement and attic need to “breathe” so you do not want to over stuff the fluff. Check out Energy.gov’s helpful how-to-guide for insulating your home.
If these areas are not a problem, other insulation options to consider would be insulating your hot water tank and also your pipes. This can be helpful in the winter months to prevent freezing, while also helping the hot water tank from having to work so hard to prep for your morning shower.
One last insulation method to consider is area rugs. If you have hardwood floors, tile or slate, those winter months can be particularly tedious. By placing area rugs in open spaces with bare floors this can help seal heat in.
- Landscaping Matters:
One of the best ways to stay cool is to block heat from getting into your home in the first place. Installing leafy plants and trees around your home is a fantastic way to boost your curb appeal while reducing the amount of sun shining on your roof, a/c unit and into windows.
- Find The Ambiance In Dimmers:
Though the topic of lighting and smart bulbs were mentioned above, another great cost-saving option to lighting is the use of dimmer switches. These switches allow wattage to be reduced, but still functional. The romantic ambiance of a lower utility bill will have you falling in love with these switches.
- Follow The Star To Savings:
In this tech-advanced world, ENERGY STAR is all around us. We know all about energy saving washers, dryers, and refrigerators, but here are a few of the less obvious gadgets you could look to upgrade in the name of long-term savings.
With Amazon Prime Day and “Black Friday” events, purchasing a new television is more easily slipped into a budget. Something to consider when buying though is size and type. Plasma televisions draw three times as much power as an LCD model. Additionally, the larger the TV, the larger the electric bill, even on ENERGY STAR rated models.
Thermostats that can be controlled remotely are gaining popularity for good reason- they can save you big money. Understanding that weather predictions are just that, it is nice to know we live in a world where you can alter the temperature (and more!) from the tap of your phone.
- Opening The Window To Lower Costs:
If you have spent the last few seasons caulking, taping and blow drying plastic. Now may be the time to consider the inevitable: replacement windows. Double hung and triple pane windows offer the biggest bang for your buck while sealing out the elements that contribute to rising costs. Windows by Erie offers a wide variety of styles to get you on the path to savings.
- Raise The Peak Of Efficiency:
The most drastic option of all in the name of long-term cost savings is considering a new roof. Similarly to the rationale for new windows, if you are seeing heightened energy bills, your roof could be the culprit. If you are seeing streaking, cracking, or peeling with loose or missing shingles, now is the time to consider a new roof.
There are a vast majority of roofing options, but metal roofing offers the best recourse of ENERGY STAR certified options that have the proven longevity to keep you in the green all year long. For more on the full spectrum of roofing options on the market today, view our previous article: Anatomy Of A Roof.
Tech To Get You Started
Having loaded your tool belt for energy savings, there are some tech-savvy ways to start your low-power diet today.
- A NEST thermostat
- A kilowatt electricity usage monitor
Or, some app-based options such as:
As with any diet, you just need to get started to start seeing the results! Still have questions? Visit our “Ask The Experts” page for more information.