Economic concerns have held steady in the spotlight for some time now. The nation is fighting to get our economy under control, and saving home energy costs is one of the first places that we, as individuals, think to start. Saving home energy costs is an area in which we can take an immediate course of action. The actions we take here are more likely to provide quick results and dollars saved in our pockets almost instantly. That is reason enough for so many families rather they have been affected by the downfall of our economy or not to set course and start looking at what they can do to cut their energy bills nearly in half.
Did you know that energy costs in an average home run about $1338/year, while energy costs in the average energy efficient home will only run about $791/year. That’s a huge savings, and there are many things that can be done for you to save on your home’s energy cost, and gain that savings each year.
Home Energy Audits
This is the very first step you should take in making your home energy efficient. Getting an energy audit conducted in your home can locate exactly where your house is losing the most energy, calculate the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems, and advise on ways to conserve energy. Sure, not everyone wants to spend the money to hire a professional contractor at $300-$500, but most utility companies will perform an energy audit for free or at the least, a small fee. There is also a do-it-yourself option, and for this, you can use the handy home energy calculator, provided by the department of energy. Simply go to http://hes.lbl.gov/ where you’ll find the calculator and lots of other helpful information to help in doing it yourself.
Rather or not you decide to hire a contractor or take aim at a do-it-yourself audit, there are some things you can get started on right away.
It’s sort of an obvious choice. Every house needs good insulation, otherwise the cold air is being let in and the heat is going out, not a good mix for low energy bills. If you haven’t recently checked on your home’s insulation, chances are you will need some kind of added insulation, or maybe you just need to upgrade any add-on insulations already made.
Check for places in the house where air can get in or out. A good place to start would be the attic, and then work your way down. Attics are one of the most common areas where poor insulation is found. Most of us like to use the attic for storage and then forget all about it, and it rarely seems that it is even a part of the house. But it is a part of the house, and vitally so when it comes to good insulation and lowering the energy bills. So, go out, purchase a weather-stripping kit, and seal up any windows, cracks or any places that you feel a draft may come through.
Once the attic is dealt with, go through the house and wrap insulation blankets around hot water pipes and heating vents. Insulation blankets costs about $10, a price well worth its usage. For water heaters, you’ll want to wrap an insulation blanket around the first five feet of pipe, this alone can save 7-11% on your water heating bill.
Use your weather stripping kit to seal remaining windows throughout the home, and for things such as, air conditioning units, which cause major air leaks, and any drafty doorways that may not be in use. Even a rolled up towel placed at the base of doors frequented by traffic can be of benefit in lowering energy cost, if you want to go through the trouble of moving and removing the towels.
Heat and Lighting
Most of us already know about using compact florescent light bulbs. These light bulbs use less energy, last for years, and are much brighter than the traditionally duller ones from the past. Use florescent bulbs throughout the home and save up to 7% in energy costs.
Heating systems warm up the home and make for a cozy abode during the winter time, but they need maintenance. You should be getting your heating burners inspected yearly, and changing the filters every 3 months or so to ensure that it is running up to code. If not, your heater may use more oil than necessary and therefore more energy.
Fireplaces present a huge factor in wasting energy, and they need to be closed off when no in use. If you want to keep the heat in and cold out, keep the fireplace damper closed.
A programmable thermostat can be a great investment. You can program it to lower itself 5 F at night and 10 F during the day if no one is at home. Doing this can save you as much as 20% on your heating costs, and if you’re not ready to invest in a programmable thermostat, its simple enough to just control your thermostat manually, the savings will still be yours.
Also, be sure to keep your ventilation systems free of dust. This will ensure an even flow of heat throughout the home and prevent unnecessary usage of electricity or oil.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now, unplug your appliances when not in use. It’s great advice that when followed will prove a definite change in costs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your appliances are not using energy just because the power is off.
Using energy star products is a great way to save, and fortunately, most appliances and electronics are becoming energy efficient. Of course, we can’t go through the house and chuck our refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers for new savvy, energy efficient ones on impulse, but when the time comes or you’re just ready to make a purposeful, powerful stride in the go green movement, by all means go out and purchase new energy efficient appliances. Yes, they save us money even if they do bring us a step further in going green, as well.
When doing laundry, try to always do a full load at a time, and use cold water. This practice can save you 20% or more on your water heating bills.
For some of us, although we have been well informed of multiple ways to save on energy costs, we have yet to apply our efforts at such a task. I hope this article shines light on the significant savings that may be gained by including even just a few things here, into our daily routines. Although I’ve tried to offer a good chunk of information, there is so much more that can be done to cut energy costs during the winter months.
For further information and ideas about saving on home energy costs visit the links below: