Energy conservation is becoming an important important concern for homeowners not only because they want to do their part to help the environment but also in order to save money. The following ten steps help to achieve both of these goals and each is a simple and easy item to accomplish.
1. Turn Off The Lights! It seems like such an easy concept but as many people know, lights get left on all over the house on a daily basis. This is especially true during the mad dash of morning as people are getting ready for work or school in a half-awake stagger that turns into a frantic rush once they notice the time. The easiest way to get into the habit of turning off lights is to try and allow extra time in the morning for you to wake up and get ready for the day while leaving a few minutes before you head out the door for a quick check for lights or other appliances that may be left on. Sure the coffee pot might be set to turn off automatically after a few hours, but it takes less than two seconds to hit the power button on your way out in the morning.
2. Swap Your Bulbs. Technological advances in the past few years have opened the door to energy efficient light bulbs for every light fixture in your home. From reading lamps to laundry room lighting, energy efficient bulbs last longer and run at a lower energy level without compromising quality of light. When the time comes for you to buy new bulbs, check out the long-life energy efficient alternatives. These bulbs often cost a bit more than their old fashioned cousins but since they last longer as well as conserving energy, they offer better value for money overall.
3. Check Your Temperature. In the summer it's easy to get in the habit of leaving the air conditioning on to run throughout the season. But when Mother Nature graces you with cool summer days that stretch into even cooler summer evenings turn off the AC and open the windows. Strategically placed fans can help circulate fresh air further and in addition to sending a clean fresh breeze through your home to keep you cool, the fresh air will also help to literally air out your home, making it smell cleaner and fresher throughout.
4. Finger Your Filters. Remember also to check and replace Air Conditioner filters during the summer season. You may be surprised at how clogged and dirty these filters can become in one short season. The same is true about furnace filters and these should be replaced once a year at the minimum. Replacing filters is an easy job and filters are inexpensive and available at any household repair store. If you're not sure about the kind of filter you need, take in the name and model of your air condition or furnace and speak to one of the trained store representatives or look online. Dirty filters require your air conditioner to work that much harder which drives up energy use and costs.
5. Strip Down! Around each door and window of your home, you should have some kind of weather stripping. It is most common around doors and should be checked regularly. This stripping is exposed to the elements and so can degrade and develop cracks over time. Weather stripping is another inexpensive Do-It-Yourself project that even novice homeowners can accomplish. Check them once a year and if they need replaced do it as soon as possible. Those little strips can save you up to 20% in energy costs.
6. Chill Your Laundry. Washing your clothes using the Cold / Cold setting on your washer can save up to 90% of the energy used by the average washing machine. Your clothes will not come out any less clean and your wallet won't feel as though it has been taken to the cleaners, either.
7. Turn Off the TV! This is sometimes easier said than done, but the longer you leave your television off, the more you're cutting your energy bill. Many families have a Family Game Night where they play board games and have some snacks and just have a good time without staring at the television or their head buried in their phones or hand held gaming devices. Admittedly, this one can be hard to kick off if your family isn't interested but if you can manage to wrangle them around a table and get them playing a game, chances are they will soon get into the party mood. In addition to saving on the electricity normally used by the television it will also help to bring your family closer together – double bonus!
8. Check Usage Rates. Many electric companies have variable rates for electricity. The rate is sometimes less in the early morning or later in the evening. If your electric company has this set up for billing, plan your washing around their schedule. By washing your clothes or running the dishwasher either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening you could wind up saving big.
9. Upgrade Your Thermostat. You can purchase a programmable thermostat for less than $ 100 and install it yourself with minimal fuss. You can pre-determine the temperature you want your home to be, even going as far as to reducing the heat at night when everyone is blissfully asleep and cozied up under the blankets or away from home during the day. During times when people are home you can have it set to your family's optimal temperature and, over the course of a few months, the programmable thermostat should easily pay for itself.
10. Protect Your Windows. During the day, close curtains or blinds on windows that receive a lot of sunlight. This will help keep heat at bay in the summer and serve as added insulation in the winter. Also look into having your home's windows tinted. Window tinting can cut nearly 90% of solar heat and it also block ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun which can fade furniture, carpets and even wall hangings. This can be particularly helpful if you live in an area that experiences sunny summers.