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Saving on energy costs

Updated on May 7, 2011

Saving money on energy costs

 

Saving money is no stranger to the minds of people everywhere, with a falling economy and prices on the rise for gas, groceries, electricity, and just about anything else you can think of it has become necessary to trim the monthly expenses and even possibly think about long term money saving investments. There are is a lot of things you can do but first and foremost you have to sit down and evaluate your situation. Figure out how much you need to trim from your monthly bills, figure how much time do you have to spend ( for doing things such as do it yourself repairs and inspections), and most importantly if you are planning to go with an investment such as new windows, more insulation, or solar power you need to figure a budget so that you know what you can afford to spend on these kinds of big improvements that are money saving investments.

First thing to talk about are money saving investments. If you are considering changing your home to total solar power it is a very wise investment however you had better be prepared to shell out $15,000 - $25,000. This method seems to be rather expensive and can make one turn their head quickly because of the price but if you are considering this you may be able to get this kind of expense financed. There are several reasons people opt in for total solar power but these are the main reasons.

  • You can earn your money back.
  • You save money on your utility bill.
  • Solar Power reduces the production of pollution.
  • Solar Power increases the value of your home. Having solar power listed on a home that is for sale is a great sales point.
  • Depending on where you live you can get tax credits, cash rebates or other incentives.

If total solar power is out of the question there are other methods that you can use that are cheaper, yet still cut your utility bill and have all the same benefits as total solar power. These methods include pool heaters, water heaters, outdoor lighting, indoor lighting and so on. Here is a web site to get more information about pricing and your options. http://shop.solardirect.com/

Another method that is a money saving investment that can be costly is by adding new windows to your home. The type of window that you have on your home can make a big difference in your monthly bill. Old style crank windows can allow heat in and cool to escape or vice versa causing you air conditioner or heater to work extra hard to stay cool. Windows also account for 10 - 25% of your heating or air conditioning bill. When thinking of purchasing new windows for your home consider your location. If you are in a cooler climate a gas filled window may be a better option as it holds heat in. For warmer climates there are spectrally selective coatings available on new glass such as low e otherwise known as low emmissivity coating. Also available on the market is a gas filled window with the low e coating. The choice is entirely up to you however speaking with a window specialist about your options and what is best for your climate is the best thing to do. If you are not in the market for new windows check for any air leaks and seal them.

Another money saving investment is insulation. Yes believe it or not the amount of insulation you have in your home can make a big difference on your energy usage. Did you know that if your home is a young as 5 or 10 years old chances are it is under insulated. Adding insulation to your home can be more cost effective then some other options and actually cheaper to install as well. Additionally the US government passed a bill in Aug of 2005 offering tax incentives. You can find out more about this at this web site http://simplyinsulate.com/

Money saving investments are good but that is not exactly what everyone is looking to do or can afford. There are other ways to cut those expenses without having to get a loan or get financed for major remodel work. Here are just a few things you can do to reduce the amount of energy used in your home.

  • 31 percent of air is leaked through floors, walls and ceilings, 15 percent from duct work, 14 percent from the fireplace, 13 percent from plumbing penetrations and 11 percent from doors. Checking for these kinds of issues is important. Sometimes a simple do it yourself repair is all that is required to fix a problem. Could be something such as applying a bead of caulking, foam around a plumbing fixture or new weather stripping on doors or windows. An inexpensive repair or should I say basic maintenance that can be done inexpensively that will save you money in the long run.
  • Shade room air conditioners from direct sun to decrease the workload on the unit.
  • Make sure you turn off unused lights, TVs, or radio's you would be surprised at how much you will save by not sleeping with these items on. If you have an absolute need to fall asleep with the TVs or radio on try using a sleep mode that will allow it to remain on for an hour or so.
  • By planting shrubs or other plants around your exterior air conditioning unit you are saving yourself some cash. A shaded unit will use as much as 10% less energy. Also by planting trees and shrubs around your home you are not only increasing your home value and adding more vegetation to the environment you are also creating a sun and windbreak that will also save up to 20- 25% of your energy use.
  • When shopping for a new appliance make sure that it is energy efficient no matter what the item is that you are buying. Simply look for the Energy Star logo. When purchasing an appliance also remember buying an energy efficient item may cost more but look at what you will be saving in the future, I am pretty sure you will find that it is a lot more then the slightly higher expense you paid.
  • Make sure the water heater is set to 120 degrees a lot of water heaters come pre set at 140 degrees.
  • Be sure to clean lint from your dryer screens before each use.
  • Be sure that all of your appliances are operating properly and stripping on refrigerators is tightly sealed. A dryer that does not heat properly can double an electric bill.
  • If doing laundry in a garage try opening the garage door to allow excess heat to escape. Also try not to do more then 2 loads in a row and wash clothes on cold to eliminate the energy use of having to heat up the water. Another excellent idea is to hang a clothes line if your don't like the crispness of the clothing after drying on the line you can always put a fabric softener sheet in the dryer and tumble for 10 minutes. This will save you on the dryer energy use.
  • Make sure you replace air conditioning unit air filters regularly also try using a programmable thermostat this will help cut cost on the unit running more then needed.
  • Try using a gas grill instead of an oven for cooking your meat and dinners. You can actually get a couple of small propane tank run side burners to make your side dishes on as well. I say gas grill because a tank of gas is a lot cheaper then buying charcoal and fluid. This will reduce the amount of energy wasted on both heating the oven and your air conditioner cooling your house back down. Also when ever possible try using toasters, toaster ovens, crock pots, microwaves, and other appliances instead of using the stove top. If you do use the stove top make sure the pan you are using is the same size as the burner you are cooking on. Having a small pan on a large burner will cause the burner to use more energy.
  • When an appliance is not in use unplug it!! A lot of people don't see the point in this however it will save you wasted energy. By leaving an appliance such as a coffee pot or microwave plugged in it is still pulling power to keep it available to where all you do is push a button. Also I see a lot of folks leaving cell phone chargers plugged in the wall and then not even charging a phone. This is senseless waste unplug it until you use it for charging. You can even cut your charge time by charging it in your car on your way to work or while running errands.
  • Put your computer to sleep mode. Keeping them on around the clock can waste quite a bit of energy and money.
  • Install ceiling fans or if this is not an option try using an oscillating fan or two this will work to help your air conditioner to keep from working so hard.
  • Clean the coils of your refrigerator you are not only extending it's life but you are also keeping the motor from pulling more then needed.
  • Switch to compact fluorescent lighting they cost more but they are effective and last longer then regular incandescent bulbs that have been typically used for so many years.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to cutting energy costs and in the long run will lower your electric bill.

 

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