How To Save Energy At Home: Tips From The Pros
We’re smack in the middle of the summer, which means that you’re likely seeing your power bills spike. Air conditioning plays a major role in the uptick of energy consumption, but it’s not the only offender. We know of a few less-obvious players in the energy consumption game, and by changing some habits and making a few upgrades around the house, you won’t feel like the electric company is kicking you in the proverbial pills every month. So, if you’re tired of throwing your hard-earned dollars at utility bills, we’ve got some tips on how to save energy at home.
How To Save Energy At Home: The Easy Fixes
Switching Out Your Light Bulbs
If you still use incandescent bulbs at this point, you must not have been paying attention for the last decade. Clinging to this antiquated mode of lighting really isn’t doing you any favors from an efficiency standpoint. Take your typical, 60-watt incandescent bulb, for an example. You can expect around 1,200 hours of life per bulb, and about 85 BTUs worth of heat emission per hour. The average yearly cost of running incandescent bulbs in your home will run around $328.
Contrast this with Compact Fluorescent Lamps. The 60-watt equivalent with a CFL will only draw 13-15 watts and emit 30 BTUs per hour. You can expect each CFL to last around 8,000 hours, and the annual cost to run them averages out to around $76.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) last even longer and draw even less power. With a life expectancy of 50,000 hours, the LED equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb draws only 6-8 watts. Plus, this brand of lighting only emits 3.4 BTUs of heat per hour. The yearly cost of LEDs is right around $32.
Sure, upgrading all the fixtures in your home from incandescent bulbs to either of the other two types will sting initially. But, cooler-running lights won’t work against your air conditioner so much, and you won’t need to replace LEDs or CFLs nearly as often as incandescent bulbs. With the money you’ll save from overall energy consumption, upgrading your light bulbs will pay for itself really quickly.
Dump Your Tired, Old Thermostat
Cooling an empty house is stupid, and we live in an age where just about everything can be programmed. Upgrading to a system that will allow you to program your thermostat to kick the A/C on or off during peak times could save you some money in the long run. We recently tested out the Bosch Connected Control Thermostat, which even allows users to adjust their thermostat via an app on the phone.
Invest In Power Strips
Ah, good old “standby mode”…it looks like your electrical appliance is off, but that little glowing light in the corner indicates otherwise. Even when these items aren’t actively in use, they still draw power.
One solution we have for how to save energy at home revolves around throwing items that you don’t use constantly onto the same power strip. For instance, if you connect your coffee maker, toaster, and phone charging station to the same power strip, you can flip the switch on when you need these items, and flip it back off when you leave to go to work. Plus, many of these power strips offer surge protection to keep your higher-dollar electrical appliances from getting zapped the next time a storm rolls through.
Fix Those Air Leaks
Shoddy weatherstripping around your windows and doors can create a black hole of energy wastage, but the fix is pretty simple. A couple tubes of caulk can save you from inadvertently trying to cool down the entire neighborhood, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to apply.
Also, if you haven’t checked the state of affairs with your insulation situation, you might go ahead and look into that. Many types of insulation break down after 15 years, but water leaks and critters can speed up that erosion too. You might consider upgrading to an insulation with a high R-value, which measures how well a particular insulation retains heat or cold.
How To Save Energy At Home: Bigger Jobs
Take A Look At Your Water Heater
Obviously, not everyone is the financial position to just go around replacing water heaters all willy-nilly, but we thought we ought to mention that newer water heaters run much more efficiently. However, if a full-on replacement isn’t in the cards for you, there are still plenty of things that can be done to reduce power consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy tells us that turning the temperature down to 120° will save up to 22% on your annual power bill. You should also insulate both the heater and your hot water pipes.
Ultimately, the amount of energy you use has a direct correlation to how hard you ask your water heater to work. Taking shorter showers and only running the dishwasher and washing machines when you can run a full load helps reduce energy costs as well.
Replace Those Antique Windows
Let’s face it: those old single-pane windows might look aesthetically appropriate for your house that was built in the ’60’s, but they aren’t doing you any favors from an efficiency standpoint. Upgrading to double-glazed windows will not only increase the value of your home, but it will also block out a lot of street noise and keep your house better insulated.
If you have any other tips on how to save energy at home, feel free to add them to the comments section below!