To save money in the household budget, it seems that our grandparents were right in many ways when they said, “Open the windows, turn on a fan, wear a light jacket if you’re chilly, and let your clothes air dry.” Their advice was good for the planet and their wallets, and it is practical advice for families today for the same reasons.
Here are a few energy saving tips to help keep more hard-earned money in your wallet this spring instead of having it go out the window:
Saving Energy at Home
1. Air conditioning
Heating and cooling account for about 54% of home energy costs. If you’re planning to replace your cooling system this spring, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends buying an ENERGY STAR® product for maximum operating efficiency and lower energy bills. Choose window units that are the proper size for the area to be cooled. Also, consider using a fan while running your window unit to spread cooled air through your home without significantly increasing your power usage. Central air conditioning systems will need to be sized by a professional who can also recommend the right Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), based on the size of your home. The current minimum for central air conditioning is 13 SEER. ENERGY STAR® models are 14.5 SEER or higher. Remember to clean or replace filters on air conditioners once a month or as recommended, and make sure your cooling system is properly maintained, for maximum efficiency.
2. Thermostat settings
To save at least 10% per year on your cooling bills, set your thermostat about 10 to 15 degrees higher than your preferred temperature for 8 hours every day. Or, set the temperature as high as comfortably possible on warmer days, and ensure humidity control if you can. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. For even more energy savings, consider installing a programmable thermostat to help regulate the temperature of your home.
3. Whole-house fans
Instead of air-conditioning, consider installing a whole-house fan if feasible. Whole-house fans work in many climates. They help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and venting warm air through the attic. Running a whole-house fan during cooler times of the day helps your home stay cooler through the hotter times of the day, without using the fan.
4. Water heating
Water heating is the second largest energy expense in homes, accounting for about 18% of the utility bill. There are four ways to cut water heating bills: 1) use less hot water; 2) turn the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees; 3) insulate your water heater; or 4) buy a new, more efficient model if you can.
5. Laundry tips
Two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes are to use less water and to use cooler water. Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half. Also, consider air-drying your laundry on clotheslines or drying racks.
6. Home electronics tips
Unplug items like computers, gaming systems, coffee makers and toaster ovens when not in use. Or, plug them into a power strip and use the switch on the power strip to cut off all power to the appliance. This can help avoid drawing small amounts of power called “vampire loads” when an appliance is switched off. Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use. Use rechargeable batteries for such products as cordless phones and digital cameras, studies have shown that they are more cost effective than disposable batteries.
7. Other energy saving tips that can save you money
The U.S. Department of Energy suggests these easy tips to save on home energy costs:
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Take shorter showers. Showers account for most of a household’s hot-water use. Reducing a 30-minute shower to 10 minutes can cut water-heating costs by 50%.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL bulbs, which use two-thirds of the energy of conventional light bulbs and last five to seven years, based on average daily use.
- Get rid of the old, clunky freezer in the basement or garage, especially if it’s a model from the 1970s. They’re much less efficient than newer models.
- During very warm or hot days, keep window shades or other coverings closed during the day, to block the sun’s heat.
For saving energy and money in your home this spring, it seems that an old, familiar phrase still holds true: It’s the little things that can really add up.
U.S. Department of Energy – http://www.energysavers.gov/