Is it just me, or have energy prices just been going up and up lately? Unfortunately, this results in significant increases in our home energy bills.
Fortunately, there are a lot of relatively inexpensive (sometimes free) changes you can make around the home that will save you money. I’ve put together a list of twelve tips that cover heating and cooling, lighting, appliances, and home electronics. These areas all tend to be notorious energy hogs. Let’s get started.
Heating and Cooling Tips:
1. If you haven’t already, switch to a natural gas water heater (electric water heaters use twice as much energy).
2. Whenever possible, cool your home naturally. For example, you can plant shade trees around your house (especially on the east and west sides). Their protection keeps the sun from beating on your roof and siding during the summer, which can naturally keep your home 4 degrees cooler. (Trees also help insulate your house against cold winds in the winter.)
3. Seal your house to protect against heat loss in cold weather. Seal the ductwork, close the fireplace damper when it’s not in use, and install a timer on the bathroom exhaust fan.
Money-saving Lighting Tips:
1. Use dimmers on all your bulbs, and only keep lights as bright as needed for your work. Instead of turning on big watt-sucking overhead lights, use task lighting when appropriate.
2. Use timers and motion- or heat-sensing lights outdoors.
3. Make the most of the natural light from outside. Consider skylights and well-placed mirrors, which can reflect more light into a room, thus reducing energy costs.
Home Electronics Energy-saving Tips:
1. Unless you really need ten clocks glowing greenly at you day and night, unplug TVs, DVD players, stereos, etc. when not in use (you can plug them into a power strip with an on/off switch to make this easy). 60-80% of the electricity used by these devices is sucked down when they’re idle.
2. Unplug chargers when you aren’t actively charging your cell phone, iPod, battery charger, etc. Why? Because as long as the plugs are inserted into an outlet, they’re drawing electricity.
3. Unplug or turn off your computer when it’s not in use. And in case you forget, set the system to lapse into sleep mode after a certain amount of idle time (sleep mode draws 60-80% less energy than full-power mode).
Tips for Saving Energy with Appliances
1. If your refrigerator was made before 1993, replace it. It could be sucking down $140 a year in electricity as opposed to newer models, which require significantly less. Today’s Energy Star-rated refrigerators only use about $20 of energy a year.
2. Do all your laundry on the same day, and dry the loads back-to-back. This makes use of residual dryer heat.
3. If you have a top-loading washing machine, replace it with a front-loading model. These generally use 50% less energy and 1/3 less water.
That’s all the advice for this article. Apply these simple energy-saving tips, and you’ll soon be looking at smaller bills.