3 Easy Ways to Lower Your Energy Costs

Life is pricey – even more so if you consider the expenses of a full family home, with kids and pets! If you think about all of the items running electricity, heating or leaking water at any given time, you’ll find there are plenty of items sneaking pennies out of your wallet – pennies that can turn into a whole lot more!

Homeowners and renters alike are always on the hunt for simple ways to keep costs low without having to invest a ton of money first – and we’re here to help!

Quick Fixes

Small changes could result in huge yearly savings when added together. Here are a few simple ways to lower your energy costs, and a few projects to consider!

  • How hot is your water? In checking your water heater’s thermostat, you might find it’s set to 140° –  as per manufacturer settings. However, 120° degrees is sufficient for all your year-round heating needs. According to the Department of Energy, lowering your water heater thermostat can take less than 2 hours and for every 10° you lower the temperature, you can save anywhere between $12 -$30 per year.
    • Note: Be sure to check all manufacturer settings for your appliances (such as the dishwasher) as they may require 140° to function properly. If you’re in the market for new appliances, keep your eyes peeled for those that require 120°.
  • Check your fridge and freezer: Take a look at the temperatures in your refrigerator and freezer. Ideally, the temperature’s should run between 37° and 40° in your fridge, while your freezer should remain around 5° – any colder, and you’re just wasting money!
    • Note: Keep your fridge & freezer full! This will help keep your items cold, while reducing the amount of work the appliance has to do to stay at the appropriate temperature by insulating the items. This can drastically reduce the amount of energy (and money) necessary to run your refrigerator properly.
  • Wash your laundry with cold water: According to financial experts, using cold water to wash clothes (instead of hot water) can save nearly $150 per year.
  • Take a look at your filters: Some AC units require filters to be changed monthly, others can go a few more months. This is probably a no-brainer for many, but you may be surprised to find that an unchanged filter (AC unit, dryer, etc.) will cause the the appliance to work harder, use more energy and, in turn, cost you more money!
  • Invest in a Crockpot: Big heat-producing appliances, like the stove and oven, can cause your home to heat up and AC to work harder. Slow cookers use much less energy and won’t turn your kitchen into a swealtering oven.
  • Consider your light bulbs: Replacing some of your light bulbs with compact fluorescents could save you tons. Turning off unused lights can save you up to $250 a year!

Change Household Behaviors

Beyond these quick fixes, there are some new behaviors you and your family can add to your household habits that can help you save even more.

  • Run your large appliances in the evening: Super hot day? Wait until the sun goes down to start using appliances (dishwasher, clothes dryer, etc.) that produce heat because they will cause your AC to work that much harder to cool your space – this can also help your neighbors too, by reducing potential strain on the energy grid.
    • Note: Want to save a whole lot more? Wash your dishes by hand & air dry your clothes!
  • Cook with smaller appliances: As stated above, your stove and oven produce a lot of heat, so it’s good to keep in mind that you can use smaller appliances too! Items like a slow-cooker, electric skillet, microwave or toaster oven can help reduce energy usage.
  • Use & turn off fans: Air conditioning units use up a lot of energy. Instead of running the AC 24/7, try an electric or ceiling fan – as they use much less electricity.
    • Note: Always remember to turn your fans off when they’re not being used!
  • Don’t cool an empty house: Many homeowners have updated their AC systems to include programmable thermostats that learn your household’s AC habits and save you money, without even thinking about it! However, since we can’t all update our systems, make it a habit to raise the thermostat when you leave the house and close doors for rooms you aren’t occupying.
  • Unplug electronics that aren’t being used: This also seems like a no-brainer, but even when your chargers and peripheral devices (DVD players, DVRs, game consoles) are not being used, they are still using up energy. Try using powerstrips that allow you to turn off all plugged-in items at once!
    • Note: Consumer reports have shown that you can save anywhere from $25-$75 each year just by turning off your computer.
  • Dust, dust, dust: While cleaning, do not neglect under and behind your fridge. When too much dust accumulates on the coils, your appliance will have to work harder – costing you more money.

Big Investments, Bigger Savings

Sometimes, the best way to save money in the long-run is to spend some up-front. These are a few updates and projects to take on if you really want to save.

  • Buy energy efficient appliances: Thinking about a new washer and dryer? Take a look at product Energy Efficiency Ratings before commiting. Consider any new features that could help save money, like dryers with sensors that will end the cycle when the clothes are dry.
    • Note: Take advantage of local rebates or discounts that may be offered by your Utility or State Energy Department for using energy efficient appliances.
  • Plant trees: Not all of us will be able to make use of this tip, but if you have the space in your front or back yard to plant a tree or two – do it! It’s sweaty work, but a tree will grow and can create shade that will cool your house in the summers, helping your AC work less. The U.S. Forest Service for Urban Forest Research has found that shade from two 25-foot trees (on the east and west respectively) can save homeowners about $25 a year in energy costs.
    • Note: If you live in an area that experiences seasonal changes, plant deciduous trees(those that drop leaves in the winter) to let through sunlight that can help heat your home in the colder months!
  • Search & seal: Nearly all homes have money figuratively leaking through the cracks around windows and doors. Look around your home and seal windows with caulk or weather stripping to close up the gaps that are not only causing your cooling/heating systems to work harder, but are also allowing outdoor air pollutants to make their way inside!
    • Note: Sealing up could cut your heating/cooling bill by up to 20%.
  • Find & fix leaks: This one seems simple, but it’s very important for a number of reasons. Take a look below your sinks and faucets, check for leaks and repair them right away – this will not only save you money on energy costs, but could prevent future issues.

Applying just one of these changes may not save you much, but even just a handful of new habits combined could easily save your household hundreds a year! Start with the important and easy things like turning off electronics when not being used, sealing up the cracks and fixing leaks.

If you are experiencing water damage too big to handle on your own, our experts are here to help – give us a call today!

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