Saving energy at home is not only great for your budget, it’s helpful for our strained power grid. Plus, you can take many different approaches to cutting your energy usage, from installing high-tech devices to simply changing some of your habits. It’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on major home remodeling projects, for example, as some simple actions will yield big results over time.
Change Some Habits
- Wash clothes in cold water most of the time. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, about 90% of the energy we use for clothes washing goes into heating the water. If your clothes are ready for a wash after normal use, cold water can work fine.
- Line dry your clothes and bedding if possible. You could save a bundle of money with this step, depending on how often you do laundry.
- If line drying isn’t feasible, make sure you’re not over-drying your clothes. Using the moisture sensor on the clothes dryer can help you save energy compared to setting the timer. And be sure to empty the lint trap regularly, as the machine doesn’t operate efficiently when it’s clogged.
- Turn off the heated dry setting on your dishwasher and air dry instead. Plus, make sure to run only full loads.
- Cook with your microwave instead of your oven when possible in the summertime so you avoid putting all that extra heat into your house.
Heating and Cooling Tweaks
- If you have a forced-air HVAC system, replace the filter about once per month. When the filter is clogged, the blower motor has to work harder. That’s less efficient and can even shorten its lifespan.
- If you have window air conditioners, first make sure that they don’t have gaps around them. You can find some products made just for this application, such as this kit that fills in the side gaps. Here’s another approach that does the same thing.
- Covering window air conditioners in the cold months is a good idea too, as moving them around can be a pain and sometimes even dangerous. You can get inexpensive covers that fit well, stay put, and are easy to put on and remove as needed.
- Raise the thermostat in the summer and use fans in the room you’re in for greater comfort. Lower your thermostat in the winter as much as you can and put on warmer clothing. Plus, install a programmable thermostat or smart thermostat so you can optimize your temperature control. You’ll be able to set the times when you prefer the temperature to rise and fall. The thermostat can also learn your habits and suggest improvements that will save you money. You can also program your smart thermostat for precooling. This trick lets you bring down the temperature in your home earlier in the day when electric rates are lower. Then you arrive home to a comfortable temperature and can leave the thermostat set higher during the time of peak rates.
- Air seal as much of your home as you can. We can’t emphasize this one enough. Any air leakage around your doors and windows is wasting money and is cheap and easy to fix. You can add a door sweep or a draft stopper and get great results quickly. Weatherstripping is also a no-brainer and can greatly improve your comfort in a few minutes.
- For some gaps and cracks, such as foundation cracks, you might need to go with the spray foam or caulk, but as long as they get filled up you’ll be coming out ahead.
- Close drapes or blinds on windows and patio doors that get blasted by the hot sun on the south and west sides of your home. This tactic can work well on hot summer days as you close up the house before you go off to work. You’re just limiting the solar gain.
Some Projects to Consider
- Along with managing drapes and blinds, adding awnings to those same windows and patio doors can be remarkably effective. You’ll see a variety of awnings available, from fixed models to retractable models.
- Adding window tint to those windows is another no-brainer, super cheap and very easy.
- On a different note, you can save a bit of money by wrapping your hot water pipes with special pipe insulation. This type of insulation is slit lengthwise so you can easily slip it over typical copper water pipes. With hot water pipes, you’ll lessen the heat loss as the water travels from the water heater to all the fixtures. For the cold lines, you can cut down on some condensation. You don’t have to try to cover every single foot of pipe in the house, but within a few feet of the water heater will make a difference.
- Finally, get rid of old standard light bulbs and replace them with LED bulbs. According to Energy Star, when you swap out your five most-used incandescent bulbs with Energy Star certified bulbs you can save around $40 per year in energy costs. Plus, they should last about 15 times longer, as well.
Getting a professional home energy assessment is a great way to get a comprehensive overview of your home’s energy usage. It’s not the only way, though. You can get some guidance from the U.S. Department of Energy about do-it-yourself home energy assessments.
And you don’t need to try to tackle everything at once, either. But when you know how much energy you’re using and how much you’re spending, then you know where the “big fish” are lurking. That’s where you can potentially harvest the most savings.
Editor’s note: OhmConnect is part of Amazon’s affiliate program and therefore earns a small commission on anything purchased through our affiliate links. However, our promise to you is that we will never recommend any product we have not or would not use in our own homes!