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10 Cost-Efficient Ways to Save Energy
As a homeowner, you have many choices about ways to save energy. Investing in energy efficiency is one of the best investments you can make in your home and you’ll also save money on your energy bills! Over time, the investment will pay for itself, leaving you with a comfortable, efficient home. Below are tools to help you save energy.
Energy Saving Tips:
Lighting is a great place to start. Update light fixtures to more energy-efficient models, and be sure to change out your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. These use 75% less energy and last 6-10 times longer than a traditional bulb, which saves money on both energy and replacement costs. Always turn out the light when you leave a room!
Install a programmable thermostat which adjusts the temperature while you’re at work during the day or asleep at night, so you are only heating and cooling your home when you are home. If you can’t install a programmable thermostat, turn down the thermostat manually. By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours while asleep under a down comforter, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. And most people sleep better when it’s slightly cool, so there’s good reason to lower the thermostat on winter nights! Actually, keep the thermostat lower in the daytime while you are at home too, put a sweater on and you’ll save even more on your energy bill.
- In the summer, you can follow the same strategy with central air conditioning, by keeping your house warmer than normal when you are away, and using your air conditioner only when you are at home. Although thermostats can be adjusted manually, programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal as you wake or return home.
Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning. And only use these fans when the rooms are actually occupied. Comfort is a function of temperature, humidity, and air movement. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only 3 to 5 degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3% on cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a "box fan" in the window, or large "whole facility" fan in the attic can push air out of the facility and pull in comfortable outside air. Fans can improve comfort and save energy year round.
Electronics account for 15% of household electricity use, and many appliances still use electricity even when turned off! Use power strips as your central “off” point for all your phone chargers, TVs, computers, DVDs, etc, to stop these “phantom” energy uses. And look for ENERGY STAR appliances, which have built-in technology to reduce power use.
Take showers (5-10 gallons of hot water) instead of baths (30 gallons+ of hot water). Replacing your old showerhead with a low-flow model will save even more water and reduce energy consumption significantly on an annual basis. Insulating hot water pipes where accessible will also help reduce energy costs.
Arrange your furniture such that it is not blocking air registers, allowing for free circulation. If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls to ensure that air circulates into the room rather than into the wall.
If you have south-facing windows, keep drapes open during winter daylight hours to take advantage of the sun’s warmth. In the summer, be sure to close the curtains during the day to keep the house cool and avoid air conditioner over-use.
Before loading the dishwasher, scrape dishes rather than rinse them and if you must rinse some dishes only use cold water. Rinsing uses a lot of water and energy, and most dishwashers today are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that are not fully rinsed. Run the dishwasher only when it is completely full, and use the air dry option whenever available.
Wash laundry in cold water, and try to only wash full loads. You can purchase cold water laundry detergent, which is specially formulated to clean your clothes just as well without the energy costs of heating the water.
Clothes drying, of course, one of the cheapest means of drying clothes is to use a clothesline. And with using the heat of the sun and drying power of breezes, clotheslines are making a comeback in many backyards. If you have outdoor space available, on a sunny day your clothes will dry faster on a clothesline than in a traditional clothes dryer, and over the long term your clothes will last longer. It's no accident that laundry chemicals try to imitate the smell of air-dried clothing. Dump the chemicals and use a clothesline. Your clothes will smell better naturally, and you can skip the softener altogether.
If a clothesline is not an option, take care to not over-dry your clothes. If your dryer has it, use the moisture-control setting to automatically turn off the machine when clothes are dry. Make sure your lint trap is always clean, as the dryer will work faster if it is. Consider drying your clothes until they are partially dry, then drying them on an indoor rack for complete dryness. A dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load could cost you up to $34 per year.
- If a clothesline is not an option, take care to not over-dry your clothes. If your dryer has it, use the moisture-control setting to automatically turn off the machine when clothes are dry. Make sure your lint trap is always clean, as the dryer will work faster if it is. Consider drying your clothes until they are partially dry, then drying them on an indoor rack for complete dryness. A dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load could cost you up to $34 per year.
- Schedule a whole house home energy audit to determine how your home compares with a comparably-sized energy efficient house. This report would include a prioritized list of improvements that will make your home more energy efficient. Typically homes in Pennsylvania need air sealing as a first step to becoming more energy efficient. Air sealing should always precede installation of insulation or upgrading windows. If you don’t want a full energy audit, ask your local energy auditor for an envelope leakage evaluation. This will identify sources of air infiltration throughout your home.
You can use a carbon calculator to see just how much energy in the form of CO2you are using. Below is a link to the EPA's Carbon Calculator.
Personal Emmisions Calculator