You work hard for your money. I know I do. Being raised by depression-era parents, I hate the idea of wasting anything. That’s why I am always on the lookout for ways to save money; especially ones that cause no hardship.
According to Energy Star, almost half of all the energy we use in our homes goes toward heating and cooling and a significant amount goes towards water as well. One of the best places to start looking for savings is where we use the most energy.
Energy Efficient Appliances
While no one likes the added expense of replacing appliances, if you should be in this position, make sure your new appliance purchases are energy efficient.
- You can do this by comparing the EnergyGuide labels. These labels provide the annual operating cost and efficiency ratings of the appliance. The most efficient appliance will save you more money month over month. Even if it initially costs a bit more to purchase, you will save more over the life of the appliance to come out ahead in the long run.
The four appliances using the most energy in your home are the water heater, refrigerator and/or freezer, dryer and heater.
I still remember the smell of air dried sheets. My mother often hung clothes and linens on a clothes line to dry. If this is an option you can use, it will save you a lot of money. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions do not allow this or our life styles prevent us from doing it.
When you do use the dryer, make sure it is running at top efficiency.
- Clean the lint catcher after every load. Also, wash the lint catcher each quarter with dish soap to remove the film that results from dryer sheet buildup which prevents air from getting through. If water sits on top the mesh then air is not able to circulate. Make sure the dryer vent hose is clear of lint and not kinked for maximum air flow and to reduce a potential fire hazard. Make it a habit to check the dryer hose semi-annually. I do it when I check the batteries in the smoke alarm.
- If your freezer is not full, place jugs filled with water to take up unused space. This will reduce how hard the freezer is required to work and save you money. The frozen jugs can be used in coolers or to provide a cold drink on car trips.
Not Changing the Bulbs
Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs can save 85% in energy and while more expensive to purchase, will last much longer than traditional bulbs – up to 5 years. I replaced all of my light bulbs in my house with LED bulbs and saved almost $100 a month on my electric bill. Officially, estimates of savings are up to $50 per year if you replace 15 light bulbs with LED ones. And if they last 5 years, you could be saving $250 total.
Turn It Off
One of the reasons my savings were higher than average is simple: I have kids who continue to leave lights on when no one is in the room or house! The same applies to ceiling fans left on. One ceiling fan running for a month adds $7 to your bill. This is unacceptable and such a waste.
- One way to combat this is install motion detectors on light switches to automatically turn them off when there is no motion in the room. Unfortunately, I have pets in the house which would mitigate the usefulness of that solution.
Not Maintaining HVAC Equipment
Almost half of the energy in your home is used in heating and cooling. Your HVAC system should be tuned and inspected annually to maintain top efficiency. Heating and cooling losses are cumulative over time and can be up to 2% a year.
- Changing your air filters monthly will also help maintain optimum performance by allowing the unit to “breathe” and not cause it to work harder.
- Adding fiberglass insulation is inexpensive and it is relatively easy to install. Energy Star estimates you can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs after effectively insulating your home.
- Up to 50% of the energy to heat your home escapes through under-insulated walls, floors, ceilings and attics. Rugs for the floor and heavy black out drapes can also reduce your energy usage.
- Turn down the heat in winter. For every degree you dial down, you will save from 1%-3% on your heating costs.
Caulking & Weather-Stripping Your Home Regularly
- Weather stripping is applied to windows, doors and larger gaps to prevent drafts. It is a roll of foam with an adhesive back and is very easy to install. Even if you have to reapply it annually, it does make a huge difference in stopping drafts.
- Examine your heating duct work for leaks that need to be sealed. Use duct foil tape or latex caulk where duct fittings meet to seal the duct work so the heat and cool air goes where you want it to.
- Use caulk to seal cracks where pipes, electrical wires, vents and ducts enter your home to improve heat and air retention and to prevent vermin and insects and entry. Unsealed electrical outlets can allow about 2 percent of air, especially on outside walls. Use insulation made for electrical outlets to eliminate this leakage. You can also use safety outlet plugs to stop cold air from entering your home.
- Insulate hot water pipes in any unheated areas of your home to keep hot water hot when moving to the fixture.
- Examine the caulk around all windows and doors annually and replace when needed. (For safety reasons, do not caulk the area around any gas water heater exhaust or furnace exhaust pipes.)
Not Using Correct Faucets and Shower Heads
As Americans, we take for granted there will be fresh, clean water when we turn it on. Water is a precious resource that we need to appreciate and conserve.
- Fix any leaks immediately when detected. If a water bill is unusually high, read the meter before you go to bed then check it in the morning to see if the reading changed significantly. If so, you have a hidden leak and may need some help to find and fix it. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. That will increase your water bill and your energy bill.
- Adding a 50% reduction aerator on a kitchen faucet will save about 20% on your water bill. You can increase your savings by doing the same to the bathrooms. An older shower head can put out almost 5 gallons of water per minute. A low flow version puts out only 1.5 gallons and feels just as good. A jar filled with rocks added to the toilet tank will reduce the amount of water needed for each flush until you need to replace the toilet with a low flush version.
Hot Water heating
Your hot water is typically the family’s third largest expense and consumes about 14% of your utility bills.
- Wrap your hot water heater in insulation, especially if it is located in unheated space. There are kits sold for this purpose; but if you have left over insulation you can also use it to get the job done.
- Lower your water heater temperature setting to 120 degrees. Lowering the thermostat will cut water heating bills without sacrificing comfort. The manufacturer’s setting is usually 140F, so lowering it to 120F will save you 6% to 10% on your monthly heating bill.
- Simple enough – Turn off hot water (and cold) when you don’t need it. Don’t let the faucet run when you brush your teeth, wash or shave.
- Use cold water to wash whenever possible. The savings do add up and most detergents are formulated to work in cold water. Better still, your clothes will last longer.
- Drain the water heater tank completely once a year. Next, turn the incoming water on and off, alternately, for about 20 seconds. This action will flush any minerals and sediment from inside the tank and make your water heater more efficient. Some newer models are self-cleaning. Check the manufacturer’s manual to find out the features of your unit.
Xpert Home Services is your all in one home maintenance team. If you want assistance in making your Outer Banks home more energy efficient, call us today at (252) 491-3333 to start saving.