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Energy Efficiency

Easy Steps to Greater Efficiency

Start saving money and reducing electricity use

Do you want to save money and electricity but have limited time, money and patience? A typical American family spends around $2,000 per year on their home energy bills, according to the Department of Energy. Much of that money is wasted through leaky windows and ducts, old appliances, or inefficient heating and cooling systems.

Luckily, there are several relatively easy ways to save energy without a substantial commitment of time and money. These efforts will help you save whether you own or rent an older or newly constructed home. And you won’t have to hire a specialist or call in a favor from someone who is handy with tools to help you.

Where To Start

Improving the envelope of your home is a good place to start. Sunlight, seasonal temperature changes and wind vibrations can loosen up even a tightly sealed home, increasing air leakage. Doors and windows may not close tightly, and ductwork can spring leaks, wasting cooled and heated air.

By placing weatherstripping and caulk around windows and doors, you can keep cool air inside during warm months and prevent chilly air from penetrating the indoors during colder months. Sealing gaps around pipes, dryer vents, fans and outlets helps to seal the envelope and creates greater efficiency.

Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can make a big difference and is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bill. LED bulbs typically have an operational life span of 30,000–50,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for many incandescents. According to the DOE, you can save $75 each year by replacing your home’s five most frequently used bulbs with LEDs.

Wrapping Up Savings

Installing a blanket around your electric water heater can reduce standby heat losses and save you 7%–16% in water heating costs. For an investment of about $35, you can purchase precut jackets or blankets and install them in about an hour. To avoid possible overheating, don’t set the thermostat above 120 degrees on an electric water heater with an insulating jacket or blanket.

Given that a large portion of your monthly energy bill goes toward heating and cooling your home, it makes sense to ensure your home’s heating and air conditioning system is performing at an optimal level. Regularly checking, changing or cleaning the filter extends the life of your HVAC system and saves you money. HVAC professionals recommend cleaning or replacing the system filters monthly.

Take Control of Your Energy Savings

Take a look at your programmable thermostat. When was the last time you checked to make sure it was customized for the current season and your family’s schedule? This is one of the best energy-saving tools at your fingertips. It enables you to fine-tune the temperature during particular hours of the day.

Many models allow you to differentiate between weekday and weekend schedules, and internet-connected thermostats can learn your schedule and adjust automatically. Most models come with an override option so you can make manual adjustments without losing overall programing.