Energize Your Home Savings
Performing an energy audit in your own home will help you identify where most of your energy consumption is going. Once you have pinpointed where the majority of your energy consumption is being used, you can take the proper steps to reduce consumption; which in turn will save you money. Go to www.energysavers.gov or www.natresnet.org to learn more. They also have some great free tools and calculators that you can use.
- The first step would be to check out the insulation levels in your attic, ceilings, floors, walls and crawl spaces (accessible of course). Inspect your home for cracks or holes in or around walls, ceilings, windows, doors, plumbing and light fixtures, and electrical outlets. These holes or cracks can lead to heating and cooling loss in your home.
- Make sure that you have insulation around the inside your outlet boxes and properly seal outlet covers to help further insulation your home. Cracks and holes should be repaired and caulking should be used to ensure an airtight seal around windows and door jams. If you have a fireplace, inspect the damper to ensure that it is working properly, forming a good seal to help prevent additional heating/cooling loss.
- When it comes to your appliances, review the owner’s manual(s) to ensure that they are being maintained properly. If you do not have the manual available, go online and “Google” the appliance make and model with the “key words” owners manual. There should be one readily available for your review.
- Replace filters, dirty filters make your heating/air conditioning system work harder and less energy efficient.
- Review the lighting in your house and look for ways to use lighting controls. You may want to consider using sensors that turn lights on and off when a person is not in the room. Dimmers or timers can also help reduce energy use. Replace those outdated incandescent bulbs with compact or standard fluorescent bulbs. ENERGY STAR lights can save you a bundle. The lighting ambiance has improved over the years so pick up a couple and see for yourself. They may be a little bit more expensive but you will actually save money in the long run. Each bulb can save you an average of $30 or more over the life of the bulb. They also produce about 75% less heat, which is safer and because they burn cooler, it cuts down on cooling costs. Concentrate on lighting areas you use the most initially, then replace other bulbs as your budget allows.
- Next, review your home electronics. When replacing older electronics, look for ENERGY STAR rated ones. Some products with the ENERGY STAR rating can even reduce energy use by up to 90% more than other models. Any ENERGY STAR computer for example, uses 70% less electricity than computers without this rating.
- It’s a good idea to replace your old thermostat with an ENERGY STAR rated programmable one. Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable for you in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. Hey tossing on a sweater or creating a cross breeze with a couple of fans can work just as well. Like I said earlier, make sure to replace your filters on your heating/ac units frequently. Inspect them once a month to ensure cleanliness and proper function.
- Registers, baseboard heaters and radiators should be cleaned on a regular basis as well. Make sure that they are not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes as this makes them less efficient. Radiator reflectors should be placed between the walls and the radiator. This will ensure more of the heat is getting to the general area of the room and less heat being absorbed by the wall itself.
- When using exhaust fans, they should normally be turned off between 15 – 20 minutes after baking or cooking. If you have fans that were original to the house built in 1984, it’s time to replace them with more energy efficient models. They will most likely be quieter as well.
- During sunny winter days, if you have widows that are facing south, leave the drapes or shades open. This will allow the sunlight to provide additional indoor warmth. Be sure to close them at night, to reduce heat loss.
- In the sunny summertime, keep the shades or curtains drawn to reduce cooling costs. Your water heater will most likely make up about 15% of your energy bill. Using less hot water, setting your thermostat to 120 degrees and insulating the outside of the heater (wrapping it in an insulated cover) will reduce this. When insulating, make sure that the top, bottom, burner compartment or thermostat isn’t covered.
- Installing low-flow aerating faucets and showerheads will reduce overall water use, are inexpensive and easy to install.
- Air drying dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle will also help reduce energy use. In the good months, hanging clothes out to dry is always better than using a dryer. As for your dryer, make sure that you clean out your vent (the part that attaches to the dryer that blows air out of the house). Lint can build up in there, causing inefficiency and a potential fire hazard. Always wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.
- For your refrigerator, if possible, move it away from the dishwasher, stove or heat vents. That additional heat makes your refrigerator work harder. Make sure that the door seals are airtight. If you can take a dollar bill and insert it in-between the seal in the door and the body of the refrigerator, it needs to be replaced.
- Consolidate gadgets that are relatively close to each other that use electricity and put them on a power strip. When most gadgets are not in use (microwaves, blenders, cell phone chargers, lights, computers, etc.) they are still using electricity. Once the items are consolidated onto a strip, with a flick of a button, you stop that unneeded waste. Power strips are pretty easy to make use of with a home entertainment center (you don’t know how to program your VCR anyway) but on kitchen counters the can be somewhat impractical. Unplugging every light in the house can seem a bit overboard as well – but do what you can.
Anything that you can do to eliminate energy waste will put additional green backs in your pocket – and we like going “green”.