As energy costs rise and household budgets tighten, homeowners are looking for ways to save money. There are projects you can undertake in your home to reduce your utility bills. Old drafty windows and front doors can be replaced with energy efficient replacement windows and entry doors. You can upgrade your heating system to a newer ENERGY STAR®-certified model which will operate more efficiently. Many projects such as these require an upfront investment.
If you home maintenance budget doesn’t allow for energy efficient upgrade projects at this time, there are some simple steps you can take that cost little to no money, and will go a long way in reducing your energy consumption.
You may remember as a child your parents always telling you to turn off the lights. When you are not in a room, get in the habit of turning off the lights and television. The same holds true for computers and other electronics. Since there is a small surge of energy when you start up your computer, the US Department of Energy recommends turning off the monitor if you aren’t going to use your computer for more than 20 minutes. If your computer will be idle for two hours or more, the recommendation is to shut down both your monitor and CPU.
Computer peripherals like printers and scanners also drain energy when not in use simply by being plugged in. To prevent them from drawing power, they should be unplugged when not in use. To make this task easier to accomplish, consider plugging your computer and all related peripherals into a power strip. With one flip of a switch you can shut down power to everything. This also works well for televisions and related equipment such as DVD players, home theater systems, and game consoles.
Water heating and consumption is another easier area to reduce your usage. Turn your hot water heater temperature down to 120 degrees. This will still effectively clean dishes and clothes and provide you with plenty of heat for your shower, but will lower your energy bills. To make your water usage most efficient, make sure your dishwasher and clothes washer are at full capacity when running them. Use air drying – hang your clean laundry to dry, and turn off the “heat dry” cycle on your dishwasher.
Windows and door are often the worst areas of heat loss during the winter. If you have storm windows, make sure they are installed to provide an extra layer of thermal protection. If your windows are drafty, make sure you have efficient window coverings to help prevent cold air from chilling the room. But for windows that get direct sunlight, take advantage of solar heat gain in the winter by leaving the curtains open during the day to help warm the room.
Taking simple steps and making easy changes can go a long way in reducing your energy consumption. Reducing energy use by following the tips above will save money on your monthly utility bills and in many cases keep your family more comfortable.