The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 a year on home utility bills. These bills are a part of life, however many don't realize the power they have to cut this figure – saving both money and energy in the process – by up to 25%.
Before diving into helpful tips provided by energy.gov, let's first focus on how we use energy in our homes to give us better perspective on how the costs add up:
- Heating and cooling your home uses more energy than any other system in your house, typically accounting for about half of your utility bills.
- Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home, accounting for about 18% of your utility bills.
- Keeping your food and beverages cold accounts for about 5% of your utility bills.
Do your homework when considering financing energy improvements for your home. Shop around for an option that best suits your situation, making sure you understand the terms and risks of each option.
Money–Saving Energy Tips: low–cost and no–cost
- Adjust your thermostat by 7°–10°F for 8 hours a day from where you would normally set it, and you could save an estimated 10% per year. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to manage your heating and cooling systems more efficiently.
- Clean or replace the filters on your furnaces and air conditioners once a month or as recommended.
- Use interior fans along with your air conditioner to help spread the cooler air throughout your house.
- Close your curtains at night to block cold drafts and open them during the day to warm the home with sunlight.
- Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
- Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use–TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
- Switch to energy–efficient lighting, one of the fastest ways to cut your lighting bills.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F, providing comfortable hot water for most uses.
- Set your refrigerator between 35°-38°F and at 0°F for separate storage freezers.
- Take short showers instead of baths and use low–flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes (but don't overload!)
- Wash your clothes in cold water, with cold–water detergents. The warm or cold water setting will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes, and making the switch from hot water to warm can cut your load's energy use in half!
- Air dry clothes, whenever possible.
- Ensure that your windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on products, ensuring that they meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you're looking for more significant energy savings over the long term, consider buying and installing energy–efficient products. They may cost more initially, but the savings will continue over the life of the appliance.
Follow this series to learn more about energy efficiency in your home and the importance of being green.