We all know that the energy we consume on a day-to-day basis doesn’t come for free, yet, many of us are shocked when they see precisely how much their power consumption is costing them each month. According to the latest statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends over $4,400 on fuel, utilities, and public services every year. Now, you probably can think of a hundred things you would rather do with that money. Fortunately, with some behavioral adjustments and a few smart choices, you can conserve energy and put some of that money back in your pocket. Here are a few simple yet effective ways to save both energy and money.
Install a Smart Thermostat
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting the air conditioner to 78 °F and the heater to 68 °F to reduce your energy expenses while keeping your house comfortable. Every degree below 78 °F or above 68 °F can add 6-8% of your power bill. A smart thermostat will save you the hassle of having to adjust the temperature manually, as you can simply program it to automatically reduce or turn off the heating and cooling when you’re not home. This can save you up to $180 per year. Not only will this eliminate wasteful energy use, but it will also reduce the temperature difference between the outside and inside of your house, which further reduces energy loss.
Insulate Your House
Air can be constantly leaking out of your home through small openings, without you even knowing. As the natural flow of heat is from warmer to cooler areas, hot air will rise and escape through any small openings around the house during the winter, and vice versa during the summer. As a result, your heating and cooling systems work harder to compensate for the lost heat or cold, thereby using more energy and costing you more money. Insulating your house and sealing air leaks will effectively reduce your heating and cooling expenses throughout the year.
Your attic, basement, floors, vents, crawlspaces, and windows are the main areas you should consider insulating. Your windows, in particular, are especially important as they cover around 15% of the surface area of your walls, and they account for more heat loss than any other part of your home. So, besides sealing the window frames on both the inside and outside, consider installing thermal curtains or cellular blinds. As the dedicated reviewers at TinyHouseHugeIdeas.com explain, this can be an inexpensive way of improving the insulation properties of your windows by helping keep the heat and unwanted light out during the summer. According to DOS, this installation can reduce heat loss by up to 25%.
Invest in Energy Star Appliances
On average, our household appliances are responsible for roughly 13% of our total energy use. When shopping for new devices or appliances, look for those with an Energy Star label; this is a federal that those electronics use certain standardized methods to ensure energy efficiency. Such devices include computers, TV sets, washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and more. Even though they come at a higher upfront cost, their annual operating costs are 9-25% lower than their conventional counterparts.
Use Advanced Power Strips
During periods of inactivity, whether they’re turned off or are in standby mode, your plugged-in appliances and devices draw a certain amount of energy, referred to as “phantom power loads.” Now, that amount of power may be small, but think of how long you leave your TV or computer plugged-in for when you’re away or asleep. It is estimated that 75% of the energy used to power household electronics is consumed when they are idle, which can cost you up to $200 a year. With an advanced power strip, you can eliminate phantom loads by completely shutting the power off when the electronics aren’t actively in use. According to DOE, using an advanced power strip to control the energy consumed by idle appliances can save you around $100 per year.
Switch to Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs
Replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can save you around $45 a year. Light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) and halogen incandescent bulbs are also great energy-efficient alternatives. All 3 types of light bulbs use between 25-80% less electricity and can last anywhere between 3 and 25 times longer than the conventional ones. So, even though they are more expensive, their energy efficiency and longer service lives make them the clear winners in terms of environmental and financial benefits.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to reduce your energy consumption and save on utility bills, all while protecting the environment. By following only one or two of these steps, you can establish a more energy-conscious lifestyle that will have positive implications for both the environment and your wallet. So, start today and remember, even the smallest changes lead to big savings in the long run.