It is that time of year in most all parts of the country when we are at our peak energy consumption and related bills for heat, light and power. We are also seeing large increases in the costs of energy in all areas of our life. We are also at a time when we should be asking ourselves what actions we can take to reduce our household carbon footprints.
In this post, I have excerpted text from my book, The FinancialVerse Guide to Savings – 600 Cash Savings Ideas, that addresses 41 actions you can take to save on energy consumption.
Here they are:
156. Convert to a gas water heater. They are more efficient and will save you money in the long run, especially if electricity rates are increasing in your area. Plus, gas water heaters can still work during a power outage!
157. If you live in an older home, consider replacing your single-pane windows. According to the US Department of Energy, windows can account for up to 30% of a home’s heating costs by allowing heat to escape.
158. Install a programmable or smart thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically set the heating or cooling temperature of your home while you are away, when you’re asleep and so on, significantly saving on your heating and cooling bills.
159. Install CFL or LED light bulbs. If you’ve never updated the light bulbs throughout your home, consider switching to either CFLs or, better yet, LEDs. These bulbs are about four times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and last for many years.
160. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. The hot water heater is a major energy drain in most homes accounting for about 18% of energy costs according to the US Department of Energy.
161. Open the windows to allow cool air into your home. It will likely reduce the temperature of the home and bring clean air into the residence.
162. Switch the direction of your ceiling fan. Many people don’t know that their ceiling fan can go either clockwise or counterclockwise thanks to a tiny switch, usually on the side. The angle of the blades mean that the fan is actually more efficient going clockwise in summer as this pushes a breeze around. Use the counterclockwise direction in winter to pull heat from the ceiling and around the walls.
163. Unplug all unused electrical devices as they can be energy hogs. Are there any electrical devices around the house you rarely use that are always plugged in? Most electronic devices constantly draw a small amount of electricity, called a phantom charge, that can add up quickly when you consider just how many devices and small appliances you own. To eliminate that usage, unplug any device you use infrequently.
164. Use warm fabrics in winter to save on heating costs. Instead of turning up the heat on cold winter nights, use flannel sheets (which are warmer than cotton sheets), wear flannel pajamas and add down duvets that will ensure you stay warm and cozy.
165. Actually use your dishwasher. This is one area where the newly re-engineered appliances deliver savings. It will save you money and energy (not to mention time) over the old-fashioned way of washing by hand.
166. Add additional insulation to your home. Even without an energy efficiency checkup, you can probably tell if your home needs more insulation.
167. Air dry your clothing. Cut down on energy costs by drying your clothes on a clothesline or rack. They now have clotheslines for inside the home as well.
168. Always change your furnace filters as directed by the product manual. Keeping your furnace filters clean is important for saving money and maintaining your home’s air quality.
169. Always keep your freezer full. Your freezer works much more efficiently if it is full. The cold items help to keep each other cold, and the freezer doesn’t have to work as hard.
170. Ask for an energy audit from your electricity provider. Did you know that many utilities provide an “energy audit”? It’s free for them to do and can save you hundreds of dollars. It involves the company checking for “energy leaks” and providing recommendations on how to stop them, like resealing your windows, replacing old and inefficient heaters/air conditioners and more.
171. Boil water in the microwave, rather than on the stovetop. Using the microwave to boil water can use up to 50% less energy.
172. Buy energy-efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star on appliances and consider the annual energy cost before buying. More efficient appliances cost more, but you make up the extra cost and then some over the life of the product.
173. Change your air filters on your heating, ventilation and air conditioning units regularly. They will run more efficiently and also help improve air quality.
174. Check for appliances that consume large amounts of energy. Use an Electricity Usage Monitor to test your electronics to see which ones have been sucking up all the power.
175. Check your refrigerator seal. If the fridge is running all the time, it’s important to make sure that it’s doing so as efficiently as possible. If it’s leaking cold air because of an old seal, then it’s also leaking money. This do-it-yourself project is a quick, easy way to save money.
176. Choose a lighter color roof. You can use lighter color shingles or, if you have a flat roof, there are also white roof coatings. The lighter colors are more energy-efficient than darker color shingles and black roof coatings.
177. Clean your dryer lint filter before each load. This will allow your dryer to work more efficiently.
178. Consider using space heaters, room air conditioners or cooling fans and keep the settings for the rest of the home on energy-saving settings. If your spouse/partner likes the temperature higher in winter and lower in summer, doing this will save energy costs.
179. Consider using timers and power strips. Along those lines, consider utilizing power strips and power timers to turn electrical devices on and off. A power strip with a switch on it, when turned off, blocks the phantom charge on those devices.
180. Dress appropriately for the season. If you're working from home and now face higher utility bills, you will likely want to adjust that thermostat now that you are paying for your comfort during the workday.
181. Fix those leaky faucets. This is an easy DIY project that will save you on hot water heating costs. If you’ve never done it before, you should be able to learn by watching some YouTube how-to videos. The good folks at Home Depot and Lowe’s should be able to help you with any hardware you’ll need.
182. Get a rooftop solar water heater. These aren’t very expensive and can pay for themselves in energy savings fairly quickly.
183. Install a low-flow showerhead to save energy costs. This quick weekend project will make your shower more efficient, and you won’t feel a difference in your water pressure. Low-flow showerheads can save up to a gallon a minute. (Typical shower heads use about 2.1 gallons per minute.)
184. Look for areas of air leakage. If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or air return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. These are often overlooked sources of energy loss costing you higher energy bills. Find them and insulate them for savings.
185. Properly inflate your vehicle tires. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel economy by up to 3% according to website, www.fueleconomy.gov. In addition, tires inflated to the correct pressure last longer and fail less often. If your car doesn’t have tire inflation sensors, consider buying a pressure gauge and checking the pressure yourself.
186. Reuse rainwater with containers. This is a favorite tip of mine. You can help conserve water (and money) by capturing rain runoff from your roof. You can then use that water for your flowerbeds and garden. You'll find a variety of barrels available online.
187. Set the proper temperature for your refrigerator. Set refrigerators to 40°F and freezers to 0°F.
188. Store your wine collection without the cost of cooling. Skip buying a pricey wine cooler that needs to be powered at all times. If you have storage room in the corner of a cellar or at the bottom of a cool, dark closet, use that instead.
189. Take advantage of natural light for heating and lighting during certain months of the year.
190. Take it easy with your thermostat. Adjust your thermostat depending on the season of the year. Increase your thermostat by one degree in the summer and lower it by one degree in the winter. Just one degree can save you up to 10% or more on your utility bill.
191. Turn off the dishwasher’s heat dry function. This is energy that doesn’t need to be used—just allow the dishes to air dry for 20 to 30 minutes before you put them away.
192. Turn off the lights. Keeping the lights on in your home may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, but it does cost money over time. To save as much as you can, turn off lights any time you leave your house or even when you leave the room.
193. Use fans for cooling, to improve airflow and reduce the cost of air conditioning. They can make it feel up to 4 degrees cooler.
194. Use solar powered lights or LEDs for outdoor lighting. If your home has an outdoor area with decorative or security lighting, consider using solar powered lights instead of paying for electricity to keep them on all night. If you can’t find solar fixtures that work, install LED fixtures to save you money long term.
195. Use window shades. During the summer months, close the shades to block out sunlight and open them to let more light in during the winter months.
196. Use your appliances at night or during off-peak periods. Run appliances such as clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate. Excess humidity is more than uncomfortable. It can also be expensive since air conditioners use extra energy to process the moisture.
197. Wash and dry full loads of clothing and dishes to maximize efficiency.
When it comes to saving money on home energy costs, it is the little everyday actions that add up. At this time as we experience large energy cost increases and when we are all more climate conscious, it pays to focus on the steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Best of luck as you tackle this problem in your household.
If you're looking for ideas on where to find cash savings, please check out The FinancialVerse Guide to Savings – 600 Cash Savings Ideas. Cash Savings provides practical suggestions on where you can save money in your day-to-day life. For most households, I believe they will find at least $600 in annual savings.