Energy Efficiency Practices

When it comes to saving money with your place of residence, most people look for big ways to reduce the large bills coming in from their utilities. The first idea some think of is to install solar, thinking this will either cut their bill in half or totally. However, that’s quite an investment in an effort to curb what may not really be the problem.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

-Vincent Van Gogh

A great artist1 once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” And that’s how we need to think about our home when it comes to saving money. Making small changes within your home can amount to big savings in your utility bills.

Here are some inexpensive changes to
consider before rushing out and spending
your life savings on large home investments.

There are so many places in your home that may be letting that comfort air out. Often times, the culprit is cracks and crevices in doorways, windows, exterior wall/floor joins or wall/ceiling joins, ductwork for your HVAC, piping coming in from the floor, etc. As you head to the store, grab an effective roll of insulation to put around your doors and windows. A tube of caulk/sealant to seal in those crevices and some HVAC foil tape to put around the floor joint of your air duct from the register. Small, inexpensive efforts will make such a difference in how much of your A/C or heat is escaping.

For more details on the benefits of insulation, and duct sealing, visit the Department of Energy Insulation page.

It can be hard sometimes to find just the right level of comfort, especially if there are several people in the home with different temperature tolerant levels. However, making a small change in how you set your thermostat could “save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling…”2.

If you have a programmable thermostat, set that temperature back when you’re at the office, or when you’ve gone to bed and collect the savings.

Don’t forget to maximize your curtains. Pulling your curtains shut to block the heat on hot summer days and opening the shades on a south facing window in the winter to take advantage of the warm sun will also help bring a level comfort to your home.

Using low-flow shower heads, insulating your water heater and hot water pipes, and washing clothes in cold or warm water rather than hot water will give your water heater a break and put money back into your pocket.

Consider upgrading your A/C, furnace, and water heater by investing in a more energy-efficient heat pump, heat pump water heater, and/or geothermal heat pump. Check out our Heating and Cooling page on the benefits and types of heat pumps that are out in the market, and how to look for a good contractor.

Heating and Cooling

It is estimated that stand by power accounts for more than

$11 billion

in annual U.S. energy costs3

With so many appliances and gadgets to make our lives easier – or harder – consider unplugging those that are not being used. Often times, that radio in your son’s room, the Bluetooth/phone that’s fully charged, but still plugged-in in your daughter’s room, the crockpot on the counter that’s plugged and ready for a quick dinner, the rechargeable battery that’s fully charged but still plugged-in in the garage… all these devices are using “stand by” power. Energystar.gov3 notes, “It is estimated that stand by power accounts for more than $11 billion in annual U.S. energy costs”.

And don’t forget to turn off your lights and fans. If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, one 60 watt bulb on for 8 hours a day every day for a year is adding $20 dollars to your utility bill annually. Switching to an LED bulb will increase the savings but even a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb left on for 8 hours every day for a year will cost you around $3 per year. May not sound like much but if there are several lights on when no one is there, that $20 can become greater.

If you’re finding habits are hard to break, consider installing motion sensors or timers to help keep the lights off when not needed.

1 Vincent Van Gogh
2 Department of Energy Thermostat
3 ENERGY STAR Ways to Save