Are your energy bills draining the pocketbook? Not only are energy costs expensive for the homeowner, but saving energy is also good for the environment. Each year, homeowners waste billions in energy, and in turn, the energy costs are spiking. Research shows that the United States leads in energy waste with an average of 66% lost in electricity. All of this waste affects our world, because energy consumed means fossil fuel consumption causes pollution and depleted resources. As a homeowner, you have the tools to change your energy usage in the home and enjoy savings — not just for your pocketbook but for the health of our planet as well. Here’s a few tips on how home energy savings for homeowners.
Switch out your incandescent bulbs for CFLs or LEDs. Fluorescent
Lighting is one of the biggest energy users in the household, but thanks to the popularity of CFLs, or Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs, you can cut down on lighting costs. CFLs use 25% to 80% less energy than traditional light bulbs, and this cut in energy means savings for you. Not only do CFL bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs but if you replace the most used lights with CFLs, you can save up to $75 each year. LED bulbs are similar and also use more nearly 60% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
The individual savings you will experience for switching may vary according to your power company, as some power companies charge more for energy during popular use times, also known as peaks. The good news is the power companies will often offer free or reduced cost CFL or LED bulbs to account holders, so contact your local power provider to see if they offer a free bulb program. By getting your bulbs for free, you’ll be saving money right off the bat when you switch.
Turn off appliances and lights when not in use.
It’s common sense to turn off things when they’re not in use, and yet, we all are probably guilty of leaving the TV on or a few lights burning. Turn off your lights, and your savings will start to add up. If you still have incandescent lights in your home, those need to be turned off first, as they’re not the most energy-efficient and also produce a lot of heat. If you know you’re going to be going into a room over and over, then don’t waste time flicking the lights on and off. Energy experts recommend if you’re going to be out of a room for 15 minutes, turn off the lights. By reducing the number of times you switch a CFL bulb on and off, you’ll also extend the life of the bulb.
Appliances turned off and still plugged in can bleed energy, as they’re in “standby energy.” The appliances in standby energy will still draw power, which cost money and uses resources. Research by Alan Meier of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that this type of “vampire energy” represents 5% of all energy use by residential customers, which equals up to $7 billion a year in costs. That number is pretty staggering! You can reduce energy use by unplugging appliances when not in use, especially in the kitchen. Walk around your home and see what appliances are commonly plugged in when they’re not in use. Tackle those, and unplug them, or use a power strip, then flick the switch off. The same goes for your phone charger or computer chargers — if they’re not charging up, unplug them.
Be smart with heating and cooling your home.
Heating and cooling your home already costs plenty of money and resources. It’s estimated that 20% of heating and cooling is lost in an average household because of a duct system. You can avoid the leakage and waste by making sure ducts are sealed properly with good insulation if needed. Once you have that verified, you’ll make sure that your heating and cooling are more efficient. Next, check your home’s doors and windows for leaks to make sure air isn’t escaping — having efficient weatherstripping can give you a savings of 10% to 15% in bills.
In the summer, open your windows at night to let in the cool air rather than letting your A/C or fan run constantly. In the winter, open your blinds or curtains to let the sun stream in and add to the home’s warmth. Windows are a big part of energy savings, and you can use energy efficient curtains, special curtains with a white liner that reduce heat transfer. In the winter, these curtains will help keep heated air in, while in the summer, they’ll keep cooled air from escaping. If you don’t want curtains, you can opt for energy efficient window film instead. Your thermostat is a big tool for energy savings — if you use it correctly. You should turn down the thermostat at night and when you’re not home, or else you’ll be expending energy that you don’t need. Finally, if you must run a cooling device, opt for the fan over the A/C.
Practice energy-efficient laundry.
Most homeowners don’t realize it, but the way they do laundry affects energy usage in their home. There are multiple ways you can reduce energy with laundry and they take little effort. First, make sure that you aren’t the using washing machine or dryer for a small load, unless absolutely necessary. Instead, wait until you have a full load then do laundry to save in water and energy usage. The temperature you use when doing laundry can also affect your energy consumption, so try to use cooler water if possible.
You may want to reduce drying time and costs by wringing your clothes out, spinning them dry (a salad spinner does wonders for small items), or even just hanging them to dry. The dryer can run more efficiently with a clean lint trap, and you’ll reduce the risk of fire, so be sure you empty out the trap before each load. Drying towels and other heavy fabrics can take plenty of energy, so avoid drying towels with lighter clothes like shirts or socks.
Change the way you use kitchen appliances.
The kitchen is one of the places in your home that uses a significant amount of electricity, and while you can’t necessarily unplug your refrigerator, there are other ways you can save energy. First, if you have it in your budget, replace your old appliances with energy-star certified appliances. Research shows that energy star appliances save billions in homeowner costs nationally, and can dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions. The official Energy Star appliance shopping guide is a great place to research what you should replace. For instance, their research shows that the average consumer refrigerator is 10 years old, but when you replace it with an Energy Star model, you can save more than $200 over its use for the next 5 years.
When cooking and working in the kitchen, you can be smart about how you use appliances. Start by saving in the freezer with ice cube trays; unless you use ice every day, you don’t need to have your ice-maker running when ice cube trays will do. Another switch you can do is start air-drying your dishes rather than running the heat cycle. Run the dishes at night without the heat, and you’ll have clean dry dishes by morning. Try not to run a half-empty load either, because just like the laundry, it uses more resources. Next, move on to how you cook. You may want to reduce heat in your home and use energy more efficiently with a pressure cooker. Not only will a pressure cooker cook your food in half the time as a stove or range, but you’ll also be consuming less energy — an average of 50% to 70% less. You can also keep cooking energy down by turning off burners as soon as you’re done with them and using the right size pan to the right size burner. With a small burner heating a large pan, you’ll be using more heat and energy for the process than a large burner heating a large pan.
Consider these small switches and you can save considerably in energy as a homeowner.