Stop Wasting Energy — and Money
Are you tired of high utility bills landing in the mailbox? Not sure how to lower those bills without turning your heat way down or taking cold showers?
Nearly 70 percent of the average home’s energy use falls into four main categories, according to EnergyStar.gov: Heating (29 percent), water heating (14 percent), appliances (13 percent), and lighting (12 percent). Here are some quick tips to help you save money in each of those areas and stay comfortable at the same time:
- Use (or install) a programmable thermostat. Running the heat when you are at work is a waste, but keeping it off all day means you’re coming home to a freezing house. Today’s thermostats allow you to easily manage when the heat goes on and off.
- Have a professional check your heating and cooling equipment to make sure it’s running efficiently. Also, replace air filters regularly — whenever it looks dirty, or every 3 months, whichever is sooner.
- Lower your thermostat to about 120 degrees.
- Add insulation to an older water heater or the pipes themselves to keep the water warmer longer.
- Wait to run your dishwasher until it is full; a half-load uses the same amount of water and energy as a full one.
- When using the stove, choose the right burner for your pots and pans. Using a big burner for a small pot can waste a lot of energy.
- Keep your washing machine set to use cold water whenever possible. And don’t forget to clean that lint trap in the dryer.
- Using your ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting by about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
- Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary. They replace inside air with outside.
- Use your microwave instead of your stove when cooking.
- Use natural light when possible.
- Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer's recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy.
- Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (using water bottles, if nothing else). Be careful about overfilling them, as this will reduce airflow and cause the appliance to work harder.
- Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler, reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency!
- Using LED lighting or bulbs is an excellent idea, particularly for lights you use all the time, like above your porch or in your kitchen.
- Replace your old decorative lights with new, energy-efficient models. Not only will they save electricity, but they’ll also last longer.
It’s not hard to get started with saving energy. Once you see those bills get lower and lower, you’ll want to keep going. Check out EnergyStar.gov for more tips and information.