We all know saving energy is good for the environment, but it’s also a great way to save money. If you’re lucky, you get a month or two’s relief from the high energy usage of your furnace before it’s time to flip on the air conditioner. Still, many consumers just don’t know where to start or how to reduce their gas and electricity usage without spending a bundle on home improvements. Fortunately, there are a variety of home and lifestyle changes you can make that will save energy and, thus, money.
Heat and Cool Consistently
When your furnace or air conditioner constantly runs on a low heat, it can be thoroughly more economical than switching it off and on for big blasts of heat or air. Take some time to fully understand the various settings on your thermostat. The knowledge can really pay off.
Unplug “Vampire” Electronics
These vampires may not suck your life’s blood, but they can be a drain on your bank account. Televisions, computers and cable or satellite receivers—as well as other electronic gadgets—utilize energy whether they are in use or not. According to the EPA, more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are used in the U.S. each year by idle electronic gadgets. That costs consumers an extra $10 billion for energy annually. But by unplugging electronics while they are not in use, you can avoid them sucking electricity. Sure it may not be as convenient to flip on the tube, but you’ll be thankful for the extra step when your electric bill starts to drop. In fact, up to 75 percent of a home’s power usage comes is derived from phantom loads.
Keep the Refrigerator Stocked
Did you know that empty space in your fridge or freezer causes the appliance to use more energy? Keeping them full allows them more easily stay cold and, therefore, use less energy.
Use Power in Non-Peak Hours
Some electric companies set certain hours as “peak” usage times, and they charge more for kilowatt hours during such hours. Contact your utility company and find out what their “non-peak” hours are. By doing laundry, showering and cooking during these non-peak times, you’ll be sure to see lower bills.
Baking several meals at a time allows you to turn on the oven less often. You can take even more advantage of the oven by leaving the door open after cooking, allowing the heat to escape into your home and warm it up.
Wash on Cold
As much as 90 percent of a washing machine’s energy expenditure is spent heating the water, so washing your clothes in cold water can save significant amounts of energy and money.
Opening your curtains on sunny days will allow the sun’s warmth into your home. Likewise, keeping curtains drawn when it’s dark or cold outside will help keep the heat in.
Change the Bulbs
Believe it or not, lighting your home accounts for as much as 20 percent of its electrical use. Change your traditional incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient options, including fluorescent and LED. You’ll not only save energy, but the bulbs will last months or years longer.
Change the Filter
Your furnace will be dramatically more efficient when its filter is clean. Check the furnace filter once a month during heating season, and make sure to change or clean it when it’s dirty.
Seal It Up
Caulk windows, doors and anywhere air can leak in or out of your home, excluding around the water heater and furnace exhaust pipes. Use weather strips around windows and doors, and wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct tape or use another sealant.
Lower Water Temperature
Set your water heater thermostat no higher than 140 degrees. Better yet, if your dishwasher can use 120 degree water, set the water heater at the lower level.
A dripping faucet may not seem like a big deal, but it can actually waste as much as 212 gallons a month. Not only does that increase your water bill, but it increases gas or electricity used by the water heater.
Close the Chimney
If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when it’s not being used. Likewise, avoid using the fireplace and furnace at the same time.
Buy Energy Star Appliances
You can save as much as $600 a year by utilizing Energy Star appliances. Not only do they require less energy to operate, but some utility companies will even offer rebates on their purchase. Some even offer rebates to consumers for actions as simple as purchasing fluorescent or LED light bulbs.
Wash Full Loads
Use your dishwasher more efficiently by only washing full loads and using the shortest cycle that still gets the dishes clean. Also, if your dishwasher’s operating instructions allow, shut the dishwasher off before it shifts into its drying cycle. Instead, open the door and allow the dishes to air dry.
Take a Shower
Showers use less hot water than filling the bath tub, especially if you use a water-efficient shower head.
it’s never a bad time to reduce your energy usage. After all, you’ll not only be saving your pocketbook, but the planet, as well.