May 31, 2018 | Valerie Vargas

How to Keep Money in Your Pocket by Becoming Energy Efficient


It is never a bad time to evaluate your energy efficiency and make changes to lower costs. (And change your smoke detector batteries!)

When it comes to saving money on energy costs there are four main categories.
  • Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Lighting
  • Electronics and Appliances
  • Heating Water
There are many ways we can all save money on each of these categories without investing a lot of money. Some ways don’t cost a single penny, while others may require a little cash up front, but the rewards more than make up for it.  A few changes can make a big impact and leave more money in your pocket!.

Heating and Air Conditioning
Setting the thermostat back ten degrees when asleep or not at home can save up to 10 percent monthly. If you are fortunate to have a working fireplace, turn the thermostat down to 55°. Take advantage of that wood burning heat. Just remember to close the damper after the embers are completely out so that heat doesn’t escape through the chimney.

Another way to be energy efficient is to keep air from escaping by sealing any gaps around the windows and doors with caulk. We always notice the cold draft in the winter, but cool air escapes during the summer months as well.

If you need to replace the windows, choose Energy Star qualified ones. Also, use your window treatments as more than a decoration. Open blinds, shades, and drapes to allow in the sun’s heat during cold periods. On hot days, keep them closed to block out that natural warmth.

Have routine maintenance for the furnace and AC. This keeps them running efficiently and safely which will save you money over the years.
 
If you need to replace them, choose efficient models. Furnaces with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency of 92 or higher are best, while the AC should have a Seasonal Efficiency Rating of at least 14.
Use fans when running the air conditioner. Having the air circulating will help your home feel cooler and it means you can set the thermostat a few degrees higher.

Whenever possible, use natural gas. Switching from other energy sources to natural gas saves money on heating, drying laundry, and even cooking.
Lighting
You’ll save money and electricity by using the proper lights along with energy efficient bulbs.
Remember Mom and Dad saying to turn off the lights when you’re not in a room? That was good advice.

Another low cost way to save money on lighting is by adding dimmer switches to the indoor lights. Motion sensors and timers work wonderfully on the outdoor lights. When replacing light bulbs select Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs. This simple change saves as much as 75% in energy usage.
Electronics and Appliances
Use a moisture sensor rather than a timer on your clothes dryer. The sensor stops the drying cycle once it detects a lack of moisture. This saves energy costs and time as well as prevents clogthes from shrinking!
 
When it comes to electronics it is best to unplug them when they aren’t needed, especiallly if you’ll be away from home for any significant stretch of time. Always turn off games and computers, and check the power management settings as well. The factory default setting isn’t always the most energy efficient.
Plug electronics into a power strip so you can make sure everything gets turned off with just one switch. The new “smart power strips” will turn off automatically when the devices are not in use.
When it comes to the refrigerator and freezer, make sure its size suits your needs. Cooling an area larger than you’ll ever need can be very wasteful. When it is time to replace your current model, again look for the Energy Star label. Older refrigerators that don’t fall under their requirements can actually cost twice as much to run.
Heating Water
Set the water heater at 120° F and wait to wash clothing that requires hot water until you have a full load. It saves water and heating costs. Use cold water when possible and have the rinse cycle set to cold. This also saves energy costs.

Tankless water heaters are cheaper to use, but they cost more to install. This is especially true when replacing a traditional heater and additional plumbing is needed. Estimate the cost to install and run each version before actually making a decision.

If gas hot water tanks are not an option for you, think about getting a heat pump model. These are two to three times more efficient than traditional electric hot water tanks.
Making changes to be more energy efficient lowers your energy consumption and you are rewarded with greater savings.  Start today by evaluating where you can begin your transition to becoming more energy efficient and enjoy a better lifestyle.
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