How to Save Money on Home Energy Costs
A Few Easy Changes Can Mean Big Savings on Your Home Energy Costs
Home energy costs go up almost every year and make up a considerable amount of your monthly budget costs. The bigger your home, the higher the cost and the more you can save by reducing these costs. More importantly, the more energy you save the more you save the environment, by reducing our carbon footprint. There are thousands of small things that you can do to help conserve energy, but here are some suggestions on how to save money on energy costs with the biggest bang.
Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs
- First and foremost, swap out all of your lights with CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs use 75% less energy and last six times longer than ordinary bulbs. With today's electricity costs, each bulb you replace can save you about $9 per year. I'm not sure how many lightbulbs the average house has but I counted mine and we have over 90! For us, that means we can save as much as $840 per year by replacing all of our bulbs. CFL bulbs have come down in price a lot since they were first introduced. Look for good sales or buy in bulk at a warehouse store for the best prices. Replace the lights you use the most first.
- The single biggest gas and electric bills are from heating and air conditioning. To lower this cost, make sure your home is as efficient as it can be. The biggest source of heat and air loss is the attic. Make sure you have enough insulation (at least 9 inches). Also, check for any drafts around doors, windows, electric outlets, basement cracks and in the utility areas of your house where cables and vents enter and leave your house. Check when it is cold and windy outside and fill any holes or drafts. You can use weatherstripping, foam filler, pipe insulation or many other products to stop the drafts. If your windows are old and drafty, it may save you money to replace them.
- Other things you can do to save on heat and air conditioning is to plant trees strategically to shade your house in the summer and let the sun through in the winter. Also, close your curtains at night and open them in the day. You can install awnings on the sunny sides of the house to help cool in the summer, and use fans instead of air conditioning if you can tolerate it. A ceiling fan in your bedroom or living room can make it feel 10 degrees cooler. Every degree you can conserve, whether in the summer or winter, will save you 2-3% of your heating and cooling bill. Also, change the filter on your furnace and air conditioner (or make sure it is clean) every 3 months. Occasionally, have your air conditioner and furnace tuned up by a professional to make sure they are running as efficient as possible.
- Heating water uses a lot of energy. Make sure your water heater is well insulated and turn the temperature down as low as you can. Insulate the hot water pipes wherever they are exposed. In some cases, especially in second homes, it pays to get an instant-on water heater that uses no energy unless you run the hot water. If building a new home, consider instant heaters in remote bathrooms to save on energy.
- After heating and cooling, electronics are the next largest use of electricity. Besides turning things off when you are not using them, you should unplug things you don't use often. I've read that over 70% of electronics energy usage comes from electronics that are plugged in and still using energy, either for standby or just the energy running through the chord (for example, a lamp chord uses energy even when the lamp isn't on). Dustbusters and similar items that are always charging can use substantial amount of energy. Also, when buying new, look for the energy star rating to insure it is the most energy efficient model. And with regards to your computers, set them to go to sleep after a few minutes of being idle.
- After electronics, cooking is the next biggest use of energy. Use lids and refrain from opening the oven door. For coffee, use a thermal carafe instead of glass. Slow cookers are more efficient than simmering on the stovetop. Unplug unused appliances.
- Using fireplaces can also be efficient. Generally speaking, wood fireplaces (especially if you get the wood for free) are a great source of low cost heat, but only heat the main room. Gas fireplaces, on the other hand, are not very cost effective. Much of the heat is pulled out the chimney and gas prices are relatively expensive. If you use gas fireplace, find one that is designed to heat the house and that is energy efficient (most are designed for looks).
- Sleep more efficiently. Use extra blankets or a space heater in the winter and drop the temp throughout the house. In the summer, a ceiling fan can make a 10 degree difference in temperature.
- If you're looking to spend money now for long-term payback you should look into solar panels, small wind turbines, and geothermal heaters. There are rebates and tax incentives for most of these projects.
- Other long-term paybacks can come from replacing inefficient heaters, air conditioners, windows and other appliances (refrigerators and freezers).
- Want more ideas on how to save? Visit our main page filled with ways to save money.
See Also: Money Saving Ideas