Looking for a realistic resolution to kick off the New Year? Consider becoming more energy efficient. Not only could it help you reduce your carbon footprint, but it could also shave a few – or, in some cases, several – dollars off your monthly utility bill.
Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
- Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL). Replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which give off the same amount of light but more efficiently. Make sure you use the appropriate CFL bulb for each light fixture, and consider using timers to turn lights on and off automatically during the day.
- Programmable Thermostat. Upgrade your thermostat to a programmable one that allows you to preset temperatures specific to various times during the day. According to the Department of Energy, programmable thermostats could save an estimated 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. It’s also more cost-effective to keep the inside of your home at a temperature close to the temperature outdoors.
- Space Heaters. Don’t run space heaters 24/7 – doing so will zap your energy bill! Space heaters are great for occasional use to temporarily heat a certain area of your home. Your heating bill may be lower if you run them for longer periods of time, but your electricity bill will most certainly be higher.
- Natural Heating. Rely on your windows when possible to heat and cool spaces. Keeping window treatments like curtains or blinds minimal or leaving them open allows more sunlight into the room, which will generate heat. Leaving windows covered keeps areas cooler.
- Washing Clothes. Washing clothes in cold water could help you save up to 40 cents per load. Low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets can also lead to significant energy savings.
- Use of Power Strips. Plug electronics into a power strip, and turn off the strip when the devices are not in use. Avoid energy vampires that drain power and boost monthly bills – this includes plugged in coffee pots and cell phone chargers, screen savers on computers, and virtually anything else that’s plugged in but not in use.
- ENERGY STAR. Check the label when buying any new energy-consuming appliance or product. Look for ENERGY STAR labeled items for greater efficiency and cost savings. ENERGY STAR TVs, for example, are 30 percent more efficient on average than traditional models.
- Use Your Appliances Wisely. Use your appliances wisely, and remember it’s the little things that can sometimes make a big difference. Here are a few tips: A full freezer maintains the appropriate temperature more efficiently. Matching the correct pot size to the size of your burner supports efficient energy consumption on your stovetop. And washing and drying several loads of laundry back to back uses less energy than letting appliances cool down completely between loads.
- Energy Efficient Windows. Consider installing high performance windows. According to ENERGY STAR, “heat gain and loss through windows accounts for up to 50 percent of a home’s heating and cooling needs.” Advancements in window technologies, including double glazing and low-E coatings, can dramatically reduce heat loss and gain. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to make sure you’re buying the most efficient windows.
- Energy Audit. Conduct a home energy audit. Calling in experts to analyze every aspect of your home can help you identify energy-consuming issues that may be overlooked by the average homeowner. This includes roof problems, leaky pipes, and improperly sealed windows and doors. Auditors can also make recommendations on key upgrades to consider for further energy savings.