Whether you want to save money or do your part to help save the environment, there are hundreds of ways to save energy inside your home. And the truth is, many of these tried-and-true tips reduce home energy consumption without requiring any major changes or financial investments.
If you start with these five easy steps, you can start saving energy immediately.
1. Adjust the Thermostat
According to the Energy Department, it costs homeowners $11 billion every year to power their air conditioners. To lower that bill, set the thermostat to the highest temperature as comfortably possible; the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, the higher the savings. Installing a programmable thermostat can help save up to 10% on cooling and heating costs a year. Regularly cleaning and replacing the filters in your cooling/heating system also increases efficiency. And, move appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, away from the thermostat.
2. Keep it Clean
While many utility companies offer discounts and rebates for the purchase of energy efficient appliances, their websites also provide simple tips to save, including one that doesn’t cost a thing— start with good old-fashioned housekeeping. Try dusting the coils behind your refrigerator every time you dust your house; it helps the compressor cool faster and run less frequently. Cleaning the lint filter on the dryer before every load keeps the dryer running efficiently.
3. Cut Down Cooking Time
You can also save energy in your kitchen with a more efficient use of your stove and oven. Limit pre-heating the oven unless necessary and keep the door closed. The temperature can drop by approximately 25 degrees each time you open the over door. You can also turn the oven off when food is almost ready, the existing heat will finish the cooking for you. The same holds true for the burners on your stove. For smaller meals, try using a toaster oven or convection oven; both use about one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-size oven.
4. Pull the Plug
If you have a lot of home electronics, take a closer look at what’s plugged in and if it’s turned on. Home electronics should be plugged into a power strip, which you can turn off when not in use, to save in energy costs. Most battery chargers, when fully charged, or not in use, draw power continuously. And don’t forget to select the “standby” or “sleep” mode on power features like clock displays and computer screens.
5. Turn off the Lights
When mom said to turn off the lights when you leave a room, she wasn’t just trying to be a pest. You can save energy and ultimately money by flipping the switch. The amount of savings varies depending on the type of lighting used, for example with incandescent lights, an estimated 90% of the energy used is given off as heat; the remaining 10% is light. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are already efficient, so energy experts say it’s best to turn the lights off only when you are going to be out of the room for 15 minutes or more. You also may want to consider timers and motion detectors.