With simple steps, you can save hundreds of dollars in home energy costs each year. Many of these steps, like turning off lights, don’t cost a dime. Home automation devices can remotely adjust your thermostat or brew morning coffee, but low-tech efforts will also work. You can save up to $100 a year by replacing five incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than regular bulbs.
What’s more, by conserving energy you’ll not only save money, you’ll also protect your family’s health. By saving energy at home and driving more fuel-efficient cars, you burn fewer fossil fuels and reduce the pollutants they emit. This pollution is especially harmful to children and others with asthma. A new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that cutting United States energy use by 15 percent could prevent nearly 30,000 asthma attacks a year.
So here are some easy ways to reduce your energy use.
1. Water heater
Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120F. Use the lower temp settings on your dryer which is gentler on your clothes.
2. Full loads
Wash clothes using full loads on a cold setting. Do full loads in dishwashers, too. If you must pre-rinse dishes (newer models make this unnecessary), use cold water.
3. The fridge
Ease demands on your fridge by letting hot food cool before putting it inside. Label food so you don’t stand there with the door open. Keep the freezer full (fuller freezers perform better than nearly empty ones).
Seal air leaks to minimize heat loss. Use caulk for leaky windows and gaps less than a quarter of an inch wide. Use rigid foam insulation for large openings like plumbing chases.
5. Power up
Use a power strip for electronics. Unplug it or turn it off when devices are not in use.
6. Use devices
Stream media using tablets or smart TVs rather than game consoles.
7. The correct settings
Select energy-saving settings on electronics, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers.
8. Manage temperatures
Set the thermostat to 65F when it’s cold outside and 80F when it’s hot. Turning down the thermostat from 70F to 65F in winter can save you 10 percent on heating bills.
Close windows when using air conditioning or heat. Close blinds and drapes to keep out the sun in hot weather but open them during the day when it’s cold outside.
10. Vents and filters
Clean or replace air filters. Clean your registers and don’t block them with furniture, carpets, or drapes.
11. In the shower
Buy water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators to cut water use by up to 50 percent. Repair leaky faucets right away.
12. Audit yourself
Get a home performance audit to identify the best ways to reduce energy use and improve comfort. Typical upgrades include new insulation and air and duct sealing.
13. Something new
Replace old, inefficient appliances and heating and cooling equipment with new models that meet minimum efficiency standards. These changes can save you $500 a year. Look for models with the blue ENERGY STAR label.
Wendy Koch, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, American Council for Energy Efficiency, [email protected]