The cost of owning a home can easily add up and make you nostalgic for the days when you lived in a utilities-included apartment and your landlord was the only one who saw those bills. Implementing the following energy-saving tips will not only help you cut your utility bill, but it will allow you to brag to people that you are “going green” and doing your part to save the planet.
Here are ten ways to reduce your energy bill, from simple and free to a bit of an investment:
The simplest thing you can do to reduce your utility bill is to turn off lights and unplug electric appliances (including computers, cable boxes, DVD players, DVRs, microwaves, hair dryers, etc. – and try using a power bar to easily shut them off) when you’re not using them! You’d be surprised how many people waste money this way.
Electric lights can account for 25% of your home’s energy use, so replace your lightbulbs with energy-saving bulbs. Check out the Department of Energy’s list of which light bulbs are best and will save you money.
Using hot water in the washing machine wastes a lot of energy. Use cold water instead – it will clean your clothes just as well (you are using detergent, right?) but require less energy.
Speaking of which, make sure you do a full load of laundry whenever possible so you don’t waste water (which uses energy) doing a partial load. Same goes for your dishwasher.
Try drying your clothes on a clothes line in the backyard like your grandmother used to do. Not only will you save money on your energy bill, but your clothes will smell spring fresh! In the wintertime or when the weather is bad, air dry your clothes in the basement with a line and pegs.
Regularly change the filter on your furnace (in the winter) and air conditioning (in the summer). This will allow the unit to work more efficiently, which not only saves you money, but improves the quality of the air in your home. Energy Star suggests replacing the filter every 1-3 months.
Additionally, using a programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 per year in energy costs, which you can get at any Home Depot or hardware store.
Ensure that your house is properly insulated. If your home is older, the insulation is probably not completely effective. One simple thing you can do immediately to improve insulation is to apply weather stripping around your doors and windows. The Department of Energy recommends calling in a qualified home energy auditor to do a complete insulation check.
It might also be worth it to have an electrician take a look at your house and point out where you can make improvements (like upgrading your existing electrical system). Keep in mind that most local government agencies offer financial incentives like rebate checks for homeowners who have updated to energy-efficient appliances. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for incentives in Missouri.
If you use outdoor lighting on your home, install motion-sensor lights rather than keeping lights on all through the night.