Do you want to save money and electricity but have limited time, money and patience? A typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on home energy bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Much of that money is wasted via leaky windows or ducts, old appliances or inefficient heating and cooling systems.
Luckily, there are several ways to save energy without a huge 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 to help.
Where To Start
Improving the “envelope” of your home is a good place to start. Sunlight, seasonal temperature changes and wind vibrations over the years can loosen up any home, increasing air leakage. Doors and windows may not close tightly, and ductwork can spring leaks. By weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors, you can keep cool air inside during warm months and prevent chilly air from penetrating during colder months.
Sealing gaps around ductwork, piping, dryer vents, fans and outlets also helps to seal the envelope and creates greater efficiency. Apply weatherstripping around overlooked spaces such as your attic hatch or pull-down stairs, too.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs is a fast way to cut your energy bill. Known for their longevity and efficiency, LEDs have an estimated life span of 10,000–20,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours of a typical incandescent.
By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the Energy Star rating, you can save $75 a year, according to the DOE.
Wrapping Up Savings
Installing a blanket around your water heater could save you about 7–16 percent in water heating costs. For an investment of about $30, you can purchase precut jackets or blankets and install them in about an hour.
A safety note: The DOE recommends that you set the thermostat no higher than 130 degrees on an electric water heater with an insulating jacket or blanket because a higher temperature setting could cause the wiring to overheat.
Given that a large portion of your monthly energy bill goes toward heating and cooling your home, it makes sense to ensure that your home’s HVAC system is performing at an optimal level. A simple task like changing or cleaning the filters in your HVAC system makes your unit run more efficiently.
Air filters prevent dust and allergens from clogging your HVAC system. But if they aren’t changed or cleaned regularly, dust and dirt trapped in a system’s air filter lead to problems, including reduced airflow in the home, up to 15 percent higher operating costs, lowered system efficiency, and even costly duct cleaning or replacement. Many HVAC professionals recommend cleaning or changing the 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 programmed for the current season and family schedule?
This energy-saving tool enables you to fine-tune the temperature for particular hours of the day. Many models allow you to differentiate between weekday and weekend schedules. Most come with an override option so you can make manual adjustments without losing overall programing. You can only achieve these efficiencies and savings if the thermostat is programmed properly and adjusted periodically to keep pace with changes in household routines.
Remember: You can take these and other easy steps now to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Contact your co-op to learn additional ways to save.