Have you noticed that your utility costs seem to climb higher each year? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) study, U.S. households now spend an average of $2,200 on water, electricity, gas, trash and recycling costs annually.
Below, we’ve compiled some of the best tips from Energy Saver, the DOE’s authoritative consumer resource for saving energy in the home, as well as a variety of additional comprehensive energy savings resources. Learn how you can reduce energy consumption in your home and potentially keep more of your hard earned money in the process.
1. Use Smart Power Strips to Reduce Power Consumption
Did you know that your electronic gadgets continue to use power even when they’re not in use? TVs, cellphone chargers, gaming systems, DVD players, coffee makers and so on, each continue to consume energy while in “standby mode.” Energy usage in this mode accounts for nearly 10 percent of the total electricity consumed in your home, according to studies conducted by Berkeley Labs. Fortunately, you can reduce the power consumption from idle electronics by using a smart power strip which automatically cuts power to devices when they enter standby mode.
- Cost: Around $20.
- Projected savings: An estimated $35-$40 each year according to Baltimore Gas and Electric.
2. Weatherstrip Your Doors and Windows to Help Stop Energy Leaks
Even modern doors and windows in your home contain hairline gaps which allow inside air to escape. These leaks, which add up to nearly 10 – 25 percent of your annual heating and cooling costs, literally suck money right out of your pocket. However, by applying layers of inexpensive weatherstripping seals and caulking from your local hardware store, you can seal off most of these gaps and cut your costs in the process.
- Cost: Approximately $20 – $60 per door or window.
- Projected savings: Between $83 and $166 per year for an entire home.
3. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Do you run your heating or cooling system while away from home? If so, you’re likely wasting a significant amount of energy—and money—each month. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to easily lock your ideal temperature settings throughout the day while you’re at work and at night while you’re asleep.
- Cost: Between $25-$80 for a basic programmable model.
- Projected savings: Up to 10 percent annually on your total heating and cooling costs.
4. Replace Old Light Bulbs with New Energy Efficient Designs
Recent advancements in home lighting technologies can also help you cut your monthly utility bills, and reduce your trips to the hardware store. Newer, more efficient, designs including light emitting diodes (LED), last much longer, produce light more efficiently and use far less energy than older bulbs.
- Cost: Approximately $5 per LED bulb.
- Projected savings: Roughly $50-$100 over the course of just one bulb’s lifetime according to experts at the National Resources Defense Council.
5. Reduce the Temperature on Your Water Heater
Most U.S. households set water heaters at the default temperature of 140 degrees. However, by reducing this setting to around 120 degrees, you can cut your total energy consumption significantly. In addition to saving money on your utility bills, this technique has the added benefit of reducing corrosion to prolong the life of your water heater.
- Cost: Free
- Projected savings: Between 3-5 percent less energy per 10 degree reduction according to the government-funded Lawrence Berkeley Labs Home Energy Saver website.
6. Use Energy-Intensive Appliances During “Off-Peak” Hours
Although prices and billing conditions vary widely among utility companies across the U.S., many offer financial incentives to adjust the bulk of your energy usage to off-peak hours. Changing your schedule to run your washer, dryer and dishwasher during these evening hours could significantly reduce your energy consumption and costs. Be sure to carefully review your utility contract or reach out to your utility provider to inquire if they offer this benefit in your area.
- Cost: Free
- Projected savings: Varies widely
7. Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Did you know that a residential washing machine uses nearly 41 gallons of water per load of laundry? Heating this water consumes around 90 percent of the total energy used in a washing machine, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By switching your washer to cold wash/cold rinse, you not only help preserve the vibrant colors of your clothing and do not have to replace them as often, but you also reduce energy use and your out-of-pocket utility expenses.
- Cost: Free
- Projected savings: Around $190 each year compared to washing and rinsing with warm water exclusively.
8. Swap out Your Dusty Filters Each Month
When your home’s HVAC system pushes air through dusty, clogged filters, it works overtime and operates less efficiently. Set a reminder on your phone every one to three months to replace the filters in your home’s HVAC system. Replacing these dirty filters not only helps keep your family healthy but also reduces your energy bill and prolongs the life of your heating and cooling system.
- Cost: Approximately $10-$20 per filter.
- Projected savings: A reduction of between 5-15 percent energy consumption.
9. Schedule a Professional Home Energy Audit
Last, but certainly not least on this list of tips to help significantly cut your energy consumption, and spending, on utilities, is to schedule a professional home energy audit. Connect with a certified home auditor by contacting your utility provider or searching your area through the Residential Energy Services Network.
During the home energy audit process, an energy efficiency expert evaluates all aspects of the structure of your home and may ask you several questions about your family’s energy consumption behavior.
- Cost: Usually runs between $200 to $600
- Projected savings: Varies widely, but could help you save between $100-$600 each year based on the number and type of upgrades you conduct.
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