Top 10 Ways to Save Electricity
If you're like many homeowners, you receive a monthly reminder of the rising costs of energy with the arrival of your electric bill. While you may be tempted to start researching solar panels, saving electricity does not necessarily require drastic measures. You can reduce your household's electricity needs by getting a clear picture of your usage and making a few home repairs and upgrades.
Have an HVAC Inspection
A professional technician can ensure that your home's furnace, air-conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system is functioning at peak efficiency. Expect to spend $50 to $100 on the inspection. (See References 1) Nearly half of your home's electricity goes toward heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, so it makes sense to look here first to reduce energy consumption (see References 3). The amount of energy an HVAC tune-up saves varies depending on the system.
Install a Digital Thermostat
Install and program your digital thermostat for energy efficiency when you're not at home. Adjusting the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit when you are not around can save you up to 10 percent annually on your energy bills. (See References 1)
Seal and Insulate Ducts
Making sure that all of your home's ductwork is properly sealed and insulated can result in energy savings of up to 20 percent annually (see References 5). Also, replace air filters regularly so that the air moves easily through the ducts, which prevents the HVAC system from working harder than it should (see References 2).
Caulking forms a flexible seal around windows and door frames --- apply it to any gaps in your home's exterior (see References 4). Caulking is a very low-cost energy-saving measure, paying for itself in less than a year (see References 2).
Placing weatherstripping around moveable joints on doors and windows keeps out drafts, saving you money on your heating and cooling bills while stabilizing the temperature inside your home, thereby making it more comfortable (see References 4). Like caulking, weatherstripping will pay for itself in energy savings within a year (see References 6).
Replace Old Appliances
Large household appliances like clothes dryers and refrigerators are huge energy drains. Replace older, inefficient models with ones that carry the Energy Star seal of approval. Energy Star is a federal program that rates appliances on their efficiency so that consumers can make smart choices. According to Energy Star, replacing a clothes dryer made before 2000 with a newer model can save as much as $130 per year. Replacing an older refrigerator can save as much as $65 per year. (See References 2)
Avoid Using Appliances in the Heat of the Day
In summer, running the oven, dishwasher, clothes dryer or any other appliance that generates a great deal of heat midday forces your air conditioner to work harder. Wait for lower evening temperatures to use these appliances. In any season you may want to consider line-drying your clothes instead of placing them in the clothes dryer. Line-drying instead of using a dryer can save almost $200 annually. (See References 1)
Switch Out Incandescent Light Bulbs for CFLs
Switching out one incandescent bulb and replacing it with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save you $35 over the life of the CFL. Compact fluorescents use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last much longer. (See References 1)
Unplug Your Gadgets
That gaming system or computer printer is still using electricity even when it's not active. In fact, "standby" power for these electronics accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of home energy use. (See References 1) Use a power strip with a switch so you can easily turn off multiple devices at once.
Give Your Water Heater a Makeover
Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and wrap it with an insulating blanket. Lowering the temperature and insulating your water heater can result in energy savings of up to 15 percent annually (see References 2). Check the heater for any leaks as well.
About the Authors
Based in the Midwest, Bethany Wieman has been writing articles about gardening, DIY, finance, travel and sustainability for more than 10 years. She was featured in the book "The Complete Guide to Growing Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs from Containers."
Wieman's professional background is in marketing, working with such brands as Swiss Army, Timberland and Callaway Golf. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.
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