Photo: Flickr / Jones Photography
Since the groundhog saw his shadow a few weeks ago, we have been enduring an extended season of cold, winter weather.In fact, some parts of the US will be expecting snow for another couple months or longer.
According to Ecomall, the average American produces about 40,000 pounds of CO2 emissions a year and together we use nearly one million dollars worth of energy every minute.
We know that money is often tight right now, so in order to stretch your dollar further, here are some helpful tips that can lead to cutting down on your overall energy costs:
Heating and Cooling
When it comes to keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, increasing your home’s insulation should be a top priority. Insulating your home’s walls and ceilings and using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks near doors and windows saves 20 to 30 per cent on your home’s heating and air-conditioning bills.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on heating and cooling costs is to simply turn your thermostat’s heat down a few degrees cooler than your normally would in the winter and turning your air-conditioning up a few degrees warmer than you normally would in the summer. For every degree that you adjust your home’s temperature by, you will reduce your home’s energy use by 1 to 3 per cent each month and will see a similar price reduction when you receive your monthly bill.
Close the doors of any rooms that aren’t being used to contribute to a reduction in the amount of heating or air-conditioning that you will need in your home. Keep large pieces of furniture away from any heating registers or air-conditioning ducts and if you have a chimney, make sure that the flue is closed when your chimney is not in use to keep large amounts of air from entering or exiting your home.
Around the House
Clean or replace air filters every few months since more energy is lost when air conditioners and furnaces have to work harder to push air through a dirty filter. This simple task can cut down on 5 per cent of the energy that you use in your home.
Replace your home’s current light bulbs with energy efficient florescent bulbs. Although these bulbs do cost more initially, they only use 1/4th of the energy of regular incandescent bulbs and last up to twelve times longer, therefore significantly cutting costs in the long run.
According to Consumer Reports, setting your computer on sleep mode after a few minutes of not being in use decreases your computer’s electrical use by an estimated 80 per cent. Better yet though, if you have a laptop that is not in use, unplug it from its charger. Most homeowners don’t realise that that 75 per cent of the electricity that their home electronics use is while the electronics are turned off, but still plugged in.
If you like lamp lighting, consider either positioning a lamp in the corner of the room, which reflects off the walls and gives the appearance of more light, or take part in “task lighting,” which is the process of only turning on a light in the area where you are working or relaxing.
Water, Water Everywhere
Wrapping your home’s water heater in an insulated jacket costs about fifteen dollars, but similar to energy-saving bulbs, can result in a lot of savings over time. The US Department of Energy states that an insulated jacket reduces standby heat loss from a water heater by up to 45 per cent and saves up to 9 per cent of water heating costs.
It is also important to note that once your water heater is insulated, its thermostat must be decreased from a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit to less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is usually a welcomed task for homeowners since dialling back the thermostat in itself will contribute to additional savings on energy costs.
You also might want to consider purchasing an energy efficient, low-flow shower head. At a cost of about 20 dollars, these shower heads decrease the overall amount of water used every time you take a shower and can save about $150 a year on your electricity. Most importantly though, make sure that none of your faucets are dripping since a dripping water faucet can waste up to a shocking 212 gallons of water a month.
Most homeowners don’t know that a refrigerator accounts for 20 per cent of their home’s total electricity use. Make sure that your refrigerator temperature is at 37 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer is at 3 degrees Fahrenheit to lower energy costs. Also, clean your refrigerator’s coils every few months, which is similar to cleaning your home’s air filters and can cut overall energy costs.
Wait until you have a full load of clothes before you use your washer and dryer and try to only wash your clothes in cold water since a full 90 per cent of the energy used in washing clothes goes just towards heating the water. When drying clothes, dry at least two loads in a row to take advantage of your dryer’s retained heat.
Similar to your washer machine, wait until your dishwasher is completely full before you run it and if possible, allow your dishes to air dry by manually turning off the drying cycle. Not using the heat needed to dry your dishes will reduce the energy use of your dishwasher by 20 per cent.
Follow these tips towards improved energy use, and you may just see yourself with more cash in your pocket at the end of each month.
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