Saving money on your energy expenses is often a matter of making simple changes that reduce energy consumption and trim your bills. For those who are interested in getting the most savings possible, there are also larger-scale actions you can take, now and over the next few months. Here are several ways to save energy dollars that you can put to use immediately, as well as others you can implement over the long-term throughout the year. Even implementing a few of these suggestions will help you save substantial amounts of money while also reducing your overall energy consumption.
Save Energy Dollars: Short-Term Solutions
Short-term solutions to save energy dollars are actions you can take and techniques you can apply immediately. They require little investment of either time or resources and usually involve being more aware of how you consume energy and how it can be used more efficiently.
- Shut off lights when you leave the room: Get in the habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room. Unless you're leaving a light on for security purposes, there's little to be gained from letting lights burn when no one's around to need them.
- Close curtains and drapes to prevent heat gain: In the summer, shut curtains and drapes to prevent excess heat accumulation in your home from sunshine coming through the windows. In the winter, keep curtains open to get the extra heating benefits that sunshine provides.
- Unplug appliances, electronics and other devices when you're not using them: Many appliances and electronic devices will use a small amount of energy even if they're turned off. Plug devices into a power strip that can be shut off when the items aren't in use.
- Change air filters: Check the air filter in your HVAC system monthly and change it as soon as dirt begins accumulating. Dirty filters are a major source of HVAC equipment malfunctions and breakdowns.
- Turn down the temperature settings on the water heater: Water heating consumes a significant portion of a home's monthly energy. Hot water is a necessity, but the temperature can usually be turned down while still providing plenty of water at a useful temperature. Turn the thermostat to 120 degrees for the best results.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs: Incandescent light bulbs are very common, but they can also consume significant amounts of energy. Replace these bulbs with compact fluorescent models. CFL bulbs can commonly reduce energy consumption by as much as 75 percent while still providing plenty of light for your household needs.
- Start planning for replacements and upgrades: Check the age, condition and overall effectiveness of your current appliances and HVAC equipment. Record what you find and make a note of any devices that are beyond 10 years old or that seem to be losing efficiency and effectiveness. Start planning for replacing these items with high-efficiency models when they break down or are no longer effective. High-efficiency HVAC equipment, such as furnaces and air conditioners, can help you save energy dollars by slashing energy consumption for cooling and heating by half or more.
Save Energy Dollars: Longer-Term Solutions
- Schedule a preventive maintenance appointment: Contact your HVAC specialist to schedule preventive maintenance and checkups for your furnace, air conditioner or heat pump. Regular maintenance is the best way to keep heating and cooling systems working at their highest level of efficiency.
- Find and seal air and energy leaks: Air and energy leaks in your home can account for significant losses of money and energy. Use caulking to seal around windows, window casings and door frames. Apply weatherstripping around edges of doors and windows to stop drafts. Make sure your HVAC ductwork is sealed at all connections to prevent loss of conditioned air before it reaches the inside of your home.
- Install a programmable thermostat: Improve control over your HVAC equipment by installing and using programmable thermostats. These electronic devices give you numerous options for improving efficiency and energy use, such as pre-programmed set points that automatically reduce heating or cooling when it's not needed.
- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures: Replace existing plumbing fixtures, such as sink faucets, aerators and shower heads with low-flow fixtures. These devices provide sufficient amounts of water for household purposes while reducing overall water usage. This is especially useful in cutting down the amount of hot water used throughout your home.
Contact one of the HVAC contractors on this site today for more information on energy-saving upgrades to your HVAC system.