Easy steps to saving energy and money at home
You start to think about saving money and wasting money as soon as you see the balance on your energy bills. You first think, there's something wrong, there's no way you could have done that you barely used HVAC or were home. Then you try to remember what you did for the bill to be so high. Some utility bills are bi-monthly, so trying to think back two months worth is difficult. Then you dissect your bill and realize it is 30 - 60 days worth of usage.
If you compare your bill to prior bills, it doesn't always add up. Some usage days are longer, the weather patterns were different. You want answers fast. For customers that are at utilities that have your usage data online through a portal, that is the best way to log in and see where you used what, how much and what your usage patterns were. For those that don't have the benefit of an online portal, then continue readying to learn how to save energy.
YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR HABITS. It can start right after you read this article. If you don't make some minor changes, you will never see that break on the bill.
Keep in mind every little thing adds up. A change here or there will be small, but overall it adds up to huge savings.
- Check all your lightbulbs. ALL of them, including bathroom, garage door, doorstep, motion sensors. Are they energy efficient? They should be either CFL or LEDs. LEDs are the most efficient, they now come in all sorts of colors, are dimmable, they even fit into recessed lighting. If you have regular flood light type bulbs those are the most inefficient bulbs out there. They also give off heat, then that means you use the AC to cool the house. Switch out as many lights as you can.
- Plug appliances with digital clocks or timers into a power strip. Yes, the microwave with the funky blue digital clock is using power even when you are not using it. Chances are you have clocks in your house, you really don't need to see the time on the microwave!
- Don't leave phone chargers plugged in. Even if they are not charging a phone, if they are plugged in they are sucking energy, these are called vampire loads.
- Computer standby or sleep mode - Ya right. If you are not going to use it past 4 hours then you really need to turn it off. It wastes more power in standbye than it does off and also more than when you power it up again.
- Delamp if you can. That means if you have rows or lights in your home unscrew every other one or every third one. Try out different options. You will still have light, but don't need that much light.
- Keep your refrigerator stocked, even with full bottles of water. When your refrigerator is full, it won't have to work hard to keep food cold if its well stocked.
- Does the sun shine on your refrigerator or your HVAC system outside? If so, then the sun heats up the appliance and the appliance thinks it has to work harder.
- 2nd fridge in the garage? Do you really really need it? Maybe unplug it 6 months out of year, when its too cold to drink beer.
- Ceiling fans, use them when you are in the room, they create a draft, so you feel cooler. They don't work if you are not int he room and do not cool the house.
- Keep curtains closed when its hot outside. Keeps the sun out. When its cold out you can also keep the curtains closed to keep heat in. If you have really thin curtains this won't work.
- It's drafty in here - weather stripping - cheap, functional and effective. You can weather strip windows, doors, garage doors and recessed lighting. Want to know where you need it see the next bullet.
- Blower door test - there are companies that do this. It is amazing. They put a large fan on your front door, close all the windows in your house. They turn on the fan, which sucks all the air out of our house. However all the areas where it's drafty, it will start pulling the air in from the outside and you start hearing the house whistling and the sound of wind. That tells you that you have many areas in your home that heat and cold air leak out when you have the heater or the AC on. That's when you see where you need weather stripping. Some areas we neglect for weather stripping are around wall plug switch plates, around recessed lighting. You never think air escapes, but it does.
- Install motion sensors for outdoor lights instead of having them on each time. Or install a timer to turn them off at the crack of dawn.
- Only do full loads of laundry and also in the dishwasher.
- If you are not in the room, then the light shouldn't be on.
- If its hot, you have pets, and you need the AC on, then turn it up to 79-80 degrees. Even one to two degree change will help save money.
- If you are working in a large room, use a small desk lamp or spotlight instead of turning on all the lights in the room.
- Pool pump - you don't need to have it on longer than 3-4 hours no matter what the pool guy says.
- Clean the air filters to your AC and your refrigerator. Dirty air filters make your appliance work harder.
- EDUCATE THE ENTIRE FAMILY. There is no use for you to be doing this all by yourself. It's a joint effort, everyone has to think about turning off the lights when they leave the house, or turning up the thermostat.
If you want to spend some money to save energy, here it goes.
- Upgrade your appliances if you can.
- If you must have a garage refrigerator, then get an efficient one rather than using the one that belonged to your parents or grandparents. Old refrigerators use 45% more energy than the most inefficient model on the market now.
- Redo some of the lighting in your house to accomodate LEDs or CFLs.
- Upgrade your HVAC system or wall air conditioner.
- Upgrade your thermostat. The ones you can control with your phone or computer work best. Minor fluctuations on a thermostat really help you save.
- Upgrade your attic insulation. The thicker it is, the more it saves. R-35 is the industry standard right now.
- Upgrade the windows - very expensive, but old windows act like curtains that are nailed to the wall, they offer no shelter from the storm, they don't block out heat or cold, and harmful UV rays. Set a budget and switch out one to two windows a year.
See what programs your utility offers and take advantage of those programs. Trust me they are there, some even include discount programs for medical equipment, low-income discounts, assistance for emergencies.
- Check if your utility offers a free energy audit. If not then there are websites that offer you free audits. Do a Google search and check those sites. An online audit helps you walk around the house and check things to see if products or appliances are energy efficient or where you are wasting energy.
- Check if your utility has an online area for you to check your daily, weekly or monthly usage.
- You can always check your utility's website for other helpful tips.