7 Ways to Save on Your Home Energy Bill
Energy costs in many parts of the country are skyrocketing today. Add in the overall economic woes, and many people find it hard to keep their heating oil coming in, or enough power to run that air conditioner. Yet, utilities are one of the must-have items in life, part of that whole “shelter” need.
So, you do what you can to get by. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to save even more on your home energy bill. Some of these you may have already tried, but others will hopefully give you an opportunity to see at least a few dollars a month in energy savings:
- Start with the windows. It’s estimated that as much as 15% of the heating and cooling loss in most homes takes place in the windows. There are several ways you can make your windows more energy efficient. You can install new windows with a higher grade of insulation. You can make sure that the window is framed in correctly, and patch any leaks surrounding it. In some cases, simply adding the right window dressings – light enough in color so as to not soak up the heat and thick enough to keep the cool air in – can result in significant savings.
- Seal other cracks, too. A little bit of caulking insulation around your doors can help realize significant energy savings. Weather stripping is another option. Some of the materials you buy may be eligible for a tax credit, so make sure that you save those receipts and ask your tax preparer about those credits come tax time, as well.
- Tune your heating and cooling equipment. It’s usually a relatively inexpensive proposition to have a certified HVAC technician come out to your home and perform an annual check and maintenance on your heating and air conditioning units. Generally, you’re talking about less than $100. That annual inspection can provide savings of as much as 20% on your energy bill, which will most likely pay for those inspections at least a couple of times over. Keeping your units clean by regularly changing the filters can help out, as well.
- Get a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat lets you lower the amount of work that your heating and cooling system are doing during the work day when no one’s there. In addition, you can let things get a little bit more relaxed during the wee hours of the night, and not have to wake up freezing. According to Energy Star, using a programmable thermostat to allow higher daytime temperatures can realize as much as $180 per year in savings.
- Go for energy efficient appliances. Running out to replace all of your appliances with ones that are more energy efficient isn’t practical, of course. However, when the time does come to replace an appliance, consider getting one that’s more energy efficient. Keep in mind, as well, that there are often tax incentives for investing in more energy efficient equipment. In many cases, it can add up to around 30% of the cost of the new appliances.
- Change your light bulbs. Controversy surrounding the outright banning of incandescent light bulbs notwithstanding, CFLs can save you money. To be sure, a single bulb is expected to realize about $3 per year in electrical savings. If you replace 20 bulbs in your home, you’re looking at $60 per year. Add in the fact that CFL bulbs don’t generate as much heat as incandescent bulbs, and you’re looking at additional savings. While these aren’t significant amounts, they do add up.
- Unplug those appliances. Microwaves, entertainment centers, radios, computers, and even cell phone chargers all use a minimal amount of electricity when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not in use. As long as they’re attached to a power source, they’re sucking energy and creating heat. This “standby” power add up to about a full 10% of the electricity used in your home. Consider unplugging appliances that you’re not using, or invest in “smart” power strips that cut the power to those outlets when they’re not actually being used.
Saving on your home energy bill takes some planning and some work. The fact is, however, that if you’re dedicated to the task, there’s no reason that you can’t realize a year-round energy savings of as much as 15-30% if you implement each of these important energy-saving techniques.
Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at Blindsgalore, a leading provider of wood blinds and faux wood blinds. In addition to their wood blinds collection, Blindsgalore carries a number of additional lines, including elegant roman shades.