This is part Two of a series of articles we will be presenting on Proven Strategies for Budget Cuts In The Home. You can read Part One entitled Grocery Budget Cuts here. We will begin with 15 proven strategies for reducing your energy bill in the home. Likely you are aware of some of these strategies and implement them in your own home. We hope we are able to provide you with some information which may be new to you. If you have a proven strategy you would like to share, please do so in the comments at the end. You can see a larger version of the thermostat picture on our Facebook page here.
1) Do not heat or cool an empty house. If everyone will be gone from home for the biggest portion of the day, adjust the thermostat down for winter or up for summer. It only takes a matter of minutes to reach the ideal temperature once you return home and re-adjust the thermostat.
2) Recommended Settings. Temperatures settings should be 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer when you are home. Use an extra blanket on the bed at night in the winter. See #8 for more advice. According to Energy.gov, 56% of the energy bill in most homes occurs in the desired temperature settings! This is the biggest opportunity to reduce your heating/cooling cost!
3) Vacation Settings. If your home will be unoccupied for 3 or more days, use the vacation settings.
a) Turn the electric hot water heater completely off at the switch box. When you return home, it should only take about 20 minutes for the water to reheat.
b) Set your thermostat to about 80 in the summer and 55 in the winter
4) Work with natural light.
a) Summer months; close curtains facing the East in the mornings when the sun rising will heat the house through the windows. Open them in the afternoon. Close the West facing curtains in the evening when the setting sun will heat your home through those windows. (The sun rises in the East and Sets in the West)
b) Winter Months. Do just the opposite of above so the heat of the sun will assist with warming your home, unless you have drafty windows, then keep the curtains closed. See #11 about drafty windows and doors.
5) Replace Air Filters at the recommended time. The brand we purchase need replacing every 3 months. Be sure to read that information on the packaging and follow those instructions for a more efficient air flow and the longevity of your system. Write the date due for change on the air filter prior to installing it as a reminder to yourself.
6) Light Bulbs. There are many types; LED Flood, LED, CFL and Energy-Saving Incandescent. Energy Star LED bulbs use on about 20%-25% of the enregy old incandescent bulbs use, and can last up to 25% longer! Read more about the different types of light bulbs which may suit your family’s needs at http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/tips-lighting.
What does this mean for me? •Replacing 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs could save you about $50 per year
7) Close Doors. Be sure garage, attic and all exterior doors are closed. How often does the garage door get left open?
8) Use Fans. Ceiling fans and floor fans circulate air providing more ability to cool the home to a comfortable level in the summer. Ceiling fans can circulate the warm air in the winter as well when you run them in reverse.
9) Blocked Vents. Be sure you do not have any blocked vents or return air registers in your home. Don’t place furniture or rugs over or in front of air vents.
10) Bathroom/Stove Vent fan. Do not leave the bathroom vent fan running beyond the length of the shower. Air will continue to escape costing you precious energy dollars. This applies to the stove vent fan as well.
11) Seal The Deal. Drafty windows and doors should be caulked/weather stripped. This is generally an easy DIY project for the homeowner. Use draft dodgers at the bottom of the door as well to keep the cold air out in the winter. Install storm doors and storm windows for more energy efficiency.
12) Power Strips. Use power strips to plug in multiple appliances where needed. Likely where your television(s) are located, there are a number of electronic devices all with separate power cords. Plug them all into one power strip so you can turn it all off at one time. These devices are pulling energy even when not in use, thus the need to turn off the power. This factor holds true for everything in the home which is plugged into an outlet. Unplug and save!
13) Water Heater. Insulate your hot water heater tank and the hot water pipes for more energy efficiency. Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees rather than the installation temp of 140 degrees. Also See #3 Read more about it at www.energy.gov
14) Conduct an Energy Audit. Many Utility companies will come out, via appointment, and conduct an energy audit of your home. They will then give you recommendations for energy savings. Check with your utility company. There are also private contractors who will conduct and energy audit. Check with your local Better Business Bureau for a recommendation.
15) Learn to Read Your Meter. Check with your electric company for instructions on how to read your particular meter. This information is usually on their website. There are a number of different types of meters so you will need to learn how to read the type you have. Some electric companies can help you to break down where the bulk of your energy cost are coming from by monitoring your meter readings.
Consider Going Green
Renewable energies include; Solar, Geothermal, Wind and Water. Each State offers incentives for those who implement renewable energies. These incentives come in the form of rebates, tax credits, business loans, grants and more. You can read more about it and learn what incentives are offered in your State by going to DSIRE which stands for Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
You don’t have to build a new green home to implement green energy savings into your life, although that would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Somewhere in your home, you probably have a collection of reusable shopping bags! You have already started to participate in green living. Some simple steps to your DIY Green home could include:
- Installing rain barrels
- Installing solar outdoor lights
- Install solar panels
- Compost rather than purchase fertilizers
- Line dry your laundry
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper
- Plant a garden and grow your own food
Visit these blogs for more information on Sustainability and Living Green; Keeper of The Home, Gidget Goes Home and Northern Homestead Also be sure to check out Pinterest for lots of ideas on how to build your own solar panels. There are even some DIY solar cell phone charger instructions on Pinterest!
Just One More Tidbit of Information
Green Button allows energy users easy access to their energy usage data through the use of an Application on your Smart Phone or Computer. “Green Button is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House Call to action: provide electricity customers with easy access to their energy usage data in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format via a “Green Button” on electric utilities’ website.”
The concept is that your Green Button will allow you access to your energy usage for every 15 minutes of every day! Armed with this information, you will be able to pinpoint areas in need of improvement. You can go here to see if your utility company is currently participating in Green Button. You can also access more information about the collaborative efforts between The Department of Energy, the White House and Green Button here. Have you already heard of Green Button? Does your Energy provider offer it?
What are some of the ways your family is reducing energy bills?