Conserving energy in your home isn’t just about doing good for the planet. It’s also a way to save money. Here are 6 ways to make a difference.
1. Adjust your day-to-day behaviors
Simple things like turning off the lights or appliances when you don’t need them can make a big difference. You can also do other things like air-drying dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle, only wash full loads of clothes in the washer and hang clothes dry, keep windows, curtains and blinds closed during the hotter parts of the day and open during the evenings when it’s cooler.
2. Replace your light bulbs
Traditional incandescent light bulbs consume an excessive amount of electricity and must be replaced more often than their energy-efficient alternatives. Halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) use anywhere from 25-80% less electricity and last three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
3. Use smart power strips
“Phantom loads,” or the electricity used by electronics when they are turned off or in standby mode, are a major source of energy waste. Smart power strips eliminate the problem of phantom loads by shutting off the power to electronics when they are not in use. Smart power strips can be set to turn off at an assigned time, during a period of inactivity, through remote switches, or based on the status of a “master” device.
4. Install a programmable or smart thermostat
A programmable or smart thermostat can be set to automatically turn off or reduce heating and cooling during the times when you are asleep or away. When you install a programmable thermostat, you eliminate wasteful energy use from heating and cooling without upgrading your HVAC system or sacrificing any comfort.
5. Purchase energy-efficient appliances
On average, appliances are responsible for roughly 13% of your total household energy use. When purchasing an appliance, you should pay attention to two numbers: the initial purchase price and the annual operating cost. Although energy-efficient appliances usually have higher purchase prices, their operating costs are 9-25% lower than conventional models.
When purchasing an energy-efficient appliance, you should look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, which is a federal guarantee that the appliance will consume less energy during use and when on standby than standard non-energy efficient models. Energy savings differ based on the specific appliance. For example, ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers consume 25% less energy and 45% less water than conventional ones, whereas ENERGY STAR refrigerators use only 9% less energy.
6. Reduce your water heating expenses
Water heating is a major contributor to your total energy consumption. Other than purchasing an energy-efficient water heater, there are three methods of reducing your water heating expenses: you can simply use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, or insulate your water heater and the first six feet of hot and cold water pipes.
If you are considering replacing your water heater with an efficient model, you should keep in mind two factors: the type of water heater that meets your needs and the type of fuel it will use. For example, tankless water heaters are energy-efficient, but they are also a poor choice for large families as they cannot handle multiple and simultaneous uses of hot water. Efficient water heaters can be anywhere between 8% and 300% more energy-efficient than a conventional storage water heater. Also, be sure to account for its lengthy service life of 10 to 15 years in which water-heating savings can accumulate.