For many of us, home energy costs account for a significant portion of our monthly household expenses. From electricity and water to heating and cooling, those costs can really add up—especially if your home is not as energy-efficient as it could be. The good news is that with just a few simple changes, you can take control of those mounting costs and have more money left in your bank account each month.
Simple changes can make a big difference
You don’t need to have a PhD in climate science or years of home improvement experience to get started making your home more energy efficient. There are plenty of easy things you can do right now to help reduce your monthly energy costs.Photo by Mike Mozart
If you haven’t already, consider replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs. By some estimates, the typical home can save up to $150 a year per bulb by switching out incandescent lighting. That’s huge! Even if you can’t install CFL or LED bulbs everywhere in your home, you can still cut your electric bill pretty significantly by targeting the rooms you use most, like the kitchen and bathroom.
Standby power—the energy used by electronic devices that are turned off but still plugged in—can account for as much as 10% of your home’s total energy consumption. TVs, stereos, computers, and phone chargers all continue to use electricity as long as they’re plugged in, even if they’re not turned on or in use. To save money, just unplug electronic devices when they’re not being used or use power strips with an on/off switch.
Choose electronics and appliances that have an Energy Star rating. These devices are proven to be more energy efficient than their non-rated counterparts, which means you save money.
A leaky faucet can add a dollar or more per month to your water bill; often, the fix is as easy as locating the drip and tightening the pipe connection. Running water while you brush your teeth or wash dishes can waste gallons of water each day, so be sure to turn off the faucet to conserve water and save money.
In the laundry room, using low temperatures to wash clothes will save you about $0.65 per load, which can really add up over time. Wait until you have a full load of dirty clothes and air dry clean clothes on a rack or outdoor line when possible. If you have to use the dryer, clean out the lint trap after every load and spin-dry or wring out clean clothes first to reduce drying time.
Seasonal savings on home heating and cooling
You will notice the biggest spikes in your home energy bills occur during the winter and the hot summer months, when heating and cooling your home can dramatically increase energy consumption.
In hot or cold weather, making sure windows and doors are well-insulated can go a long way in helping control your home energy costs. Use weather-stripping or caulk for a tight seal, and consider installing storm doors and windows to prevent drafts. If your budget allows, replace or repair rotted, broken, or damaged windows.
While thermal curtains can help your home retain heat, a more effective option is window shutters. Plantation-style shutters not only look great they help insulate windows and prevent heat loss in winter, and improve cool air circulation and ventilation in summer. That means you can better regulate your home’s heating and cooling systems, which can help you save on energy costs.
Practice zoned heating and cooling to further reduce costs. That simply means closing off rooms you’re not using. Spare bedrooms, bonus rooms, and three season porches are usually great candidates for zoned heating and cooling to help cut energy usage. Shut air vents or close baseboard heaters, keep curtains or shutters drawn, and put draft excluders at the bottom of the door frames.
In rooms you use frequently, keep air vents and baseboard heaters open and clear. Move furniture away from vents and heaters, make sure they’re not obstructed by area rugs or long drapes, and keep trash or other flammable materials as far away as possible.
For even more tips on home energy savings, check out the extensive library of articles at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Cutting energy costs is just the beginning in moving toward a more eco-friendly home. Making some simple inexpensive changes can have a dramatic positive impact on your finances.