During peak months, my energy bill is so high! I am looking for some easy ways to cut my energy costs and thought I would share some findings…….
TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AT NIGHT (Save up to $105 a year)
Why? Turning your computer off at night could save you up to a third of its energy costs, depending on your use and power management settings. Save even more by plugging your computer, monitor, and printer into one power strip and turning the strip off when you go to bed.
Is it okay to frequently shut down my computer? The U.S. Department of Energy assures that switching a computer on and off multiple times does not negatively affect its life because advances in technology, typically computers are replacement before equipment failure occurs. In fact, giving your computer a rest can be good for it. Certain software updates require computers to shut down, and the fan is more likely to wear out on a machine that run constantly. Good to know: Some computers have settings that can automatically turn a computer on or off at certain times of day. You are most likely to find these options in the Control Panel folder on a computer running Windows® or in System Preferences on a Mac®. Check your owner’s manual for more specific information.
- Shut your computer down during the day when you will not use it for the next two hours.
- Unplug the computer or switch off its power strip after it powers down.
- Turn off your monitor too for greater savings.
WEATHERSTRIP WINDOWS AND DOORS (Save up to $50 year)
Why? The edges of doors and windows are often not sealed well, allowing cold air to seep into your home or air conditioning to escape. Windows and doors can be responsible for up to 25% of heat loss in a typical home and 33% of summer heat gain. Weatherstripping your windows and doors will help reduce this leakage.
Step-by-step: Do it yourself:Using affordable supplies from a local home improvement retailer, you may be able to seal your windows and doors yourself. You can usually complete the work within a day, making this an easy weekend project.
- Reduce air leakage at the bottom of exterior doors. For a no-cost solution, use rolled-up towels. Or:
- Install sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors. Available at most hardware and home supply stores, sweeps are generally plastic or metal strips that you apply to the bottom of the door.
- Install low-cost compressible foam. This creates a tight seal around the door. Don’t forget to seal doors into unheated areas of your home, such as the garage.
- Seal windows. Rope caulk and compressible foam are very inexpensive. Or,
- Install weatherstripping. The cost for this is slightly higher, but still reasonable. Plus, this is a more permanent solution.
SEAL AIR LEAKS (Save up to $100 a year)
Why? Air leaks can be a large source of air loss in your home. This raises your heating and cooling costs and can make your home less comfortable.
- Purchase caulk and/or polyurethane foam appropriate for the surfaces you plan to seal. Check the label for its best uses and whether it is appropriate for indoor or outdoor use. Some caulks are specially designed for small leaks along the edges of walls. Foams are more appropriate for larger gaps and holes.
- Find leaks. To find leaks, try to follow drafts of air to their source on the wall, floor, ceiling, and around ductwork. Watching how the smoke of a smoke pen or burning incense flows is one way to check for leaks and drafts.
- Check where different materials meet. Look where brick meets wood siding, between the foundation and walls, between the chimney and siding, where gas and electricity lines exit your house, and where there are any penetrations through the floor from unheated crawlspaces and basements.
- Seal any cracks you find. Use the right sealant for each leak.
USE DIMMERS (Save up to $35 a year)
Why? A standard light switch gives you two lighting options – full brightness or none at all. Dimmers give you more control over the level of light in a room, which opens up stylistic possibilities and saves electricity. By using only as much light as you need, you can save up to 40% on your lighting bill while extending the life of your bulbs.standard masonry fireplace can add charm to a home, but is also an inefficient way to produce heat. You can make a few easy changes to your fireplace to improve its efficiency.
Even a small reduction makes a difference. The human eye can barely tell the difference between full and 90% brightness, but setting a dimmer at this level can still save you 10% on the room’s lighting costs.
USE MOTION DETECTORS OUTDOORS (Save up to $35 a year)
Why? Though you’re rarely awake to see them, outdoor lamps left on all night can consume more electricity than most of your other light fixtures. However, motion sensors can reduce their energy use by 80% without compromising security or style.
How it works: Motion sensors turn lights on when they detect movement in their vicinity. After a certain amount of time elapses, the lights switch off. You can adjust the time delay.
- Lights with motion sensors can also contain photocells, which sense sunlight and switch on your lights only when it’s dark outside. ENERGY STAR® fixtures with photocells are available.
- You can buy new lights that include motion sensors or retrofit your current lights with their own sensors. Either purchase should include installation instructions. The installation itself should take about 30 minutes.
- If you are using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), be sure to look for a motion sensor that is compatible with these types of bulbs.
TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN NOT NEEDED (Save up to $45 a year)
Why? An average home’s lighting bill can account for 15% of electricity costs. Turning lights off when you’re not in the room is a simple way for you to make a dent in your utility bill.
How it works:
- You save energy whenever you turn off a light, unless you plan to turn it on again immediately. Light bulbs use a little bit of extra energy to “start up” — for a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), only a few seconds of operating power.
- Turn off incandescent bulbs every time they are not needed.
- Turning a CFL on and off many times per day can reduce its operating life. If you turn your CFLs on and off very often, you may need to replace them sooner. Generally, it is cost effective to turn off a CFL when you won’t need it for 15 minutes or more.
- Make it a habit to turn lights off each time you leave a room.
- Before you go to sleep, walk through your home and shut off any forgotten lights.
- Encourage other family members to turn off their lights, as well. This is a great way for young children to do their part in saving energy.
USE AND SWITCH OFF POWER STRIPS (Save up to $85 a year)
Why? Many computers, televisions, and other devices draw power even when they are turned off. Since plugs to these devices can be tough to remove from the outlet and reconnect, use a power strip. With a flip of the switch, you can easily cut off power to multiple devices at once, saving time, energy, and money.
What to look for:
- Surge protection strips with their own circuit breakers or surge protectors. Protect connected devices in the event of a short-circuit or power surge.
- Programmable strips with timers. Power down connected appliances according to a schedule you set.
- “Smart” strips that link electronics together. Shutting down one “master” device, such as a computer, automatically turns off peripheral devices, like speakers or printers, on the same strip.
- Remote controls. Turn off hard-to-reach power strips with the push of a button as you leave the room.
- More spacing between sockets. This ensures that the strip can fit multiple large power adaptors. This is an especially important feature if you are buying a power strip for a home office.
The energy that some electronics draw while they are off is called a “phantom load.” Products that waste electricity this way are often called “vampire devices.” Which of my electronics are likely to be vampire devices?
- Digital video recorders (DVRs)
- Entertainment systems
- Video game systems
- Printers, scanners, and fax machines
- DVD players
- Cell phone and battery chargers
- Any device with a remote control or LED indicator light
ADJUST YOUR THERMOSTAT BEFORE LEAVING HOME (Save up to $20 a year)
Why? Setting your thermostat for energy savings can decrease your cooling and heating bills significantly.
- Set your “home occupied” temperature. When you are awake and at home, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat no higher than 68°F for heating and no lower than 78°F for cooling.
- Set your “away from home” temperature. When you are away from home, set the thermostat to an energy-saving level. Setting the temperature at least 10°F higher in the summer and 10°F lower in the winter is a good rule of thumb.
- Go the extra mile: To save even more energy, set your thermostat at least 10°F lower in the winter or 4°F higher in the summer when you’re asleep.
REDUCE HEAT LOSS FROM YOUR FIREPLACE (Save up to $15 a year)
Why? A standard masonry fireplace can add charm to a home, but is also an inefficient way to produce heat. You can make a few easy changes to your fireplace to improve its efficiency.
- Seal the top. Install a removable chimney cap or a permanent one if you do not plan to use the fireplace.
- Keep the damper closed. The damper should be closed tightly whenever you are not using the fireplace.
- Seal the front. Install a glass door to control the draft when you have a fire.
- Go the extra mile: A professionally installed fireplace insert is the best option. Fireplace inserts can be cost-effective depending on the age and nature of your fireplace.
OPEN YOUR SHADES ON WINTER DAYS (Save up to $5 a year)
Why? Taking advantage of winter sunlight can help make a dent in your heating costs. Open blinds during the day to provide natural lighting and capture free heat.
- When you let the sun in, remember to lower the thermostat by a few degrees. These two steps combined are what save money and energy.
- South-facing windows have the most potential for heat gain. Keep the drapes up and windows clear in order to let in the most light.
- The sun is most intense from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so make sure windows are uncovered during these hours. Close window coverings at night to insulate windows.
CHECK YOUR AIR FILTERS EVERY MONTH (Save up to $30 a year)
Why? Heating and cooling consume the most energy in the average home — up to 50% of total home energy use. Dirty air filters make your furnace, central air conditioner, or room air conditioner work harder to circulate air. By cleaning or replacing your filters monthly, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.
WASH CLOTHES WITH COLD WATER (Save up to $20 a year)
Why? Washing your clothes uses a sizable amount of energy, especially if you use warm or hot water. About 90% of the energy consumed for washing clothes is used to heat the water. Unless your clothes have oily stains, washing with cold or warm water will clean your clothes just as effectively.
SHAVE A MINUTE OFF SHOWER TIME (Save up to $60 a year)
Why? The average American spends about 8 minutes taking a shower roughly once a day. Reducing average shower time by 1 minute can result in a 13% decrease in shower water use, which reduces the money you spend on water heating.
- Time yourself and others. See how long you and your fellow household members take to shower and compare your shower times to the national average. Use a water-proof timer in the shower or a kitchen timer out of the shower.
- Set a goal for showering a bit faster.
- Added benefits: In addition to saving money on energy, you’ll also save on water costs.