Winter usually brings lower temperatures and higher energy bills. Unfortunately, the strain on your wallet may be a bit greater this year with rising oil and gas prices. That’s why we put together these simple energy efficiency tips. They can help you save energy and money and also stay warm and toasty all winter long.
Tip #1 – Get smart about your home temperature
Adjusting your thermostat can help you save money. While that may seem hard to do, consider lowering your thermostat while you’re out of your home or sleeping. Smart thermostats make this super easy by allowing you to lower (or raise) your thermostat from an app on your phone.
If you don’t have a smart thermostat, a simple programmable thermostat which turns your temperature up or down automatically can help tremendously.
Caution! Frozen pipes are much more costly to repair than any energy savings you gain, so never lower your thermostat during cold spells or when temperatures drop below freezing.
Home tip: We know this is a big-ticket item and may only be practical if you’re already considering renovating, building a home, or installing central air. However, a dual-zone heating and cooling system can target specific areas of your house and help you save money by not making your HVAC unit heat or cool your entire home. Maximize your savings by choosing a programmable thermostat in each zone. (This is also a great addition for families with members who like to live at different temperatures.)
Tip #2 – Unplug your energy vampires
It may shock you to learn that electronics continue to use energy when they’re turned off or on standby mode as long as they are plugged in. (Yes, this includes your phone charger!)
Combat these “energy vampires” by unplugging your TVs, computers, and similar items or by plugging them into a smart power strip. With a smart strip, you can cut the power to these devices by turning off the entire strip from an app on your phone! For small appliances that are used less often, such as a toaster, simply unplug them when they’re not in use.
Tip #3 – Get bright ideas about your light bulbs
It’s time to say good-bye to your incandescent light bulbs and hello to LEDs. According to the Department of Energy, 15% of the average home’s electricity use comes from lighting, and simply changing a home’s incandescent light bulbs to LEDs can save a household about $225. That’s because LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy and can last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. To get the most savings, make sure to use ENERGY STAR LED bulbs.
Tip #4 – Weatherstripping
If you’re feeling drafts inside your home, it may be time to replace the weatherstripping around your doors and windows. Properly installed weatherstripping can help seal up your home and help you save on your utility bill. Your local home improvement store has a wide range of options to help seal up any gaps, from insulation tape to caulk to door sweeps and much more.
Tip #5 – Become more water efficient
Energy and water usage go hand in hand. The more hot water you use, the more energy you use, and according to the Department of Energy, water heating is about 20% of your home’s energy use. A simple way to save money is to turn your hot water heater down to 120°F. This keeps your hot water warm enough to dissolve soap, oil, and grime on your dishes while also saving you money.
Also, run full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washing machine, and consider taking showers rather than baths. A bath generally takes 30 to 50 gallons of water, but a 10-minute shower can use as little as 25 gallons of water. This means less water needs to be heated for your daily bathroom routine.
Tip #6 – Complete routine home maintenance
By completing regular home maintenance, you’ll help to keep your appliances running efficiently. This means they’ll use less energy and even last longer. A few simple home maintenance tasks to complete include:
- Replacing or cleaning your HVAC air filters as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Cleaning the refrigerator coils twice a year (or once a season if you have pets).
- Vacuuming your dryer’s exhaust vent at least once a year.
- Cleaning your dishwasher filter monthly.
Not only does this help save you money, but it can also help to prevent safety issues. After all, there’s almost 2,900 dryer fires annually, and a dirty dryer vent is a common culprit. Cleaning your refrigerator coils and replacing your HVAC filters can also help to prevent home fires and safety hazards.
Extra tip – Upgrade your appliances
While this may not help you to save money immediately, newer appliances, especially ENERGY STAR models, run more efficiently and use less energy. Old, inefficient refrigerators can cost between $140-$160 to run annually, while an ENERGY STAR rated refrigerator can cost as little as $20.
If your appliances are more than 10 years old and routinely breakdown, look for appliances with the blue ENERGY STAR label, which denotes the product as meeting strict cost saving and energy efficiency requirements. ENERGY STAR even divides the country into four climate zones, so you can choose the appliances that best suit your home.
Homeowner Insurance for The Way You Live
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