Energy costs have been on the rise for several years now. In fact, most people just assume that from gasoline to oil to electricity, the question is not whether energy costs will rise, but how much. Fortunately, there are many things you can do that do not cost a lot of money, require relatively little effort, and are easy to accomplish that help reduce your energy bill.
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Upgrade Your Lighting
You know about upgrading your lightbulbs, which, while requiring an initial cash outlay, yields benefits over time in the form of lightbulbs that last longer and cost less to run. How about your light switches, though?
Smarter switches can save up to $100 a year. Motion sensors ensure lighting goes on only when the sensors are activated. Automatic turn-off lets you stop using energy as soon as a room is vacated. That dramatically reduces the possibility that your kids “left every light in the house on,” and it saves you money.
Seal Doors and Windows
Unless they are brand new, your doors and windows are probably drafty if they are any older than ten years. As houses settle, even high-quality windows will have their jams and sills settle as well, creating an avenue for hot or cold air to escape.
Using a caulk sealer, sealant tape, or plastic overlay ensures that the right temperature air stays in your home while the temperatures you are trying to avoid stay out.
This is particularly important if your home is older than 30 years. Most homes that old or older did not have insulation in their attics or walls, or what they did have has degraded to the point it is almost useless.
Whether you hire a professional to install insulation or do it yourself, the result will be fewer drafts, less hot or cold air escaping, and hot or cold air outside kept there.
Seal Attic and Basement Air Vents
Every home has odd construction features that let air escape. This is particularly true if your home is older and has settled. What was once an airtight seal over time becomes less tight, and air inside and outside is able to get through the gap.
Having your home inspected for air leaks or doing it yourself and then sealing the gaps, seams, holes, etc., with sealant will stop leaks and keep hot and colder air inside.
One area to pay special attention to is around water spickets attached to the side of your home. Frequently, those are sealed wrong, or the sealant used ages and cracks. Those areas then become repositories for ice-cold air in the winter and warmer air in the summer.
Drive to Save Fuel
How you drive affects how much fuel you can save. For example, if you gun the engine everywhere you go, exceed 70 miles per hour regularly, and are constantly applying gas and then braking, you waste a lot of gas and have to gas up quicker. With gasoline prices soaring, even saving a single gallon is significant.
The same logic applies to speeding. Not only do you risk a ticket when you speed, but the higher the speed, the efficient your engine is. Across a year, that can really add up in terms of gasoline you do not have to purchase.
Go Energy Star
Chances are you have seen the Energy Star label on appliances, electronics, etc., and not thought anything of it. By simply using Energy Star sanctioned products, though, you can save a lot of money across a year according to the United States government. For example, some estimates pin the savings as high as 30%, or about $600 a year.
The Usual “Dad is Yelling” Stuff
Dads have, over the years, insisted certain behavior wastes electricity. The fact is, those Dads were absolutely correct. Here is a shortlist of stuff your Dad probably said that back then was annoying, but not that you pay the bills; it makes a lot of sense.
- Shut off lights when you leave a room
- Stop going in and out and letting hot or cold air escape
- Close the refrigerator if you are not getting something out or putting something in
- Shut off lights, TVs, computers, etc. when you leave the room
- Shower quickly to avoid using hot water as much as possible
- Follow the speed limit when driving
Each of those is fairly common sense, simple things to do that just about all of us considered ridiculous and impossible to achieve as teenagers. The fact of the matter is compliance with each point is easy, and it saves a lot of money over the course of a year.
Dress in Layers
No one likes to be cold in their home, particularly during the winter. An effective way to avoid having to turn up the heat is to dress in layers. Keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature and wear sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, pants versus shorts, etc.
This is another way to save a lot of money in a way most people do not think about until how much energy they waste by keeping a home too hot or cold is pointed out to them.
Change Your Thermostats
Thermostats are infamously inefficient, especially older thermostats. Swap out your old thermostats with “smart thermostats” that can help you modulate your temperatures to meet your needs.
For example, by setting your thermostat back at night when you sleep, you save money by the furnace not running unnecessarily. Additionally, a two-stage thermostat can warm your home during waking hours, which avoids turning up the heat unnecessarily.
Use Heat Registers Tactically
Heating or cooling rooms you almost never use wastes money. By closing heat registers in rooms you are not in, you save both in heat and AC-treated air. This can add up and concentrate your warmth and cooling in rooms you need it.
Your windows and doors are hot and cold air vents. By adding weatherstripping, you can ensure that drafts at the gaps in a window or door are insulated. This stops air from escaping and unwanted air from entering your home. Over the course of a year, this can add up to a lot of savings in terms of not letting air you paid for an escape outside.
Avoid Using Appliances When Possible
Dry your clothes on a clothesline. Only use the washer when you have a full load. Only use hot water on clothes you want to be disinfected. Some estimates put the savings for those fairly simple steps to be in excess of $100 a year.
Seal Your Window Panes
If you have older, individual panes of glass, the “glaze” that seals the panes and keeps airtight seal ages and can crack. By redoing your window glaze, you can reseal your windows and get the same degree of airtightness that your windows had in the first place.
For some people, a major project like that can be intimidating. Use sources like handyman and DIY websites to find videos that will show you how to take on the project simply and easily. Also, you can find videos on sites like YouTube.
Give Your HVAC System Some TLC
Your furnace and AC are dependable and take a beating. Focusing on maintaining them can show immediate savings. Complete this simple list, and you will be on your way:
- Change out your HVAC air filter
- Clear out debris from your AC
- Test your thermostats to verify they switch the HVAC on at the right temperature
- Follow manufacturer maintenance guidelines
- Call to have your HVAC inspected
Unplug When Possible
This is good advice for you and your smartphone and your many appliances, equipment, and devices in your home. By simply unplugging stuff you are not using, maintenance fans, motors, lights, and other energy users are stopped.
Unplugging also has the benefit of making you think before you use something. The simple act of plugging something in so that you can use it puts the issue of energy use front and center. It also, as mentioned, can help your mental and emotional health.
Use Power Strips
By plugging in your devices, equipment, etc., into power strips, you centralize the process of turning them off and on. This is particularly true with computers, but it works with most electronics like televisions, printers, etc.
Clean Out Refrigeration Components
The coils in your refrigerator are a magnet for dust and debris. By cleaning those off, your refrigerator cools more efficiently, which saves you money. The same logic applies to your AC, although unless you know what you are doing, it is best to wait until a professional arrives.
Install Storm Windows
Taking a day in the fall to install storm windows can seem like a huge time suck. Doing so helps hold cold air at bay, and it can help combat humidity, which can also make you feel cold.
By doing these very simple steps, you will see the energy savings pile up. To learn more about how you can save money by simple actions, visit LoPriore Insurance Agency.