Energy bills are one of those monthly expenses that just can’t be escaped. Knowing how to save energy and taking steps to conserve more and waste less will leave extra room in the monthly budget for other things.
Here are some energy conservation and efficiency tips that can result in considerable savings. Some of these energy savers are not practical for renters, but many will help homeowners and apartment dwellers alike.
Tips on Saving Energy
Use the following 10 tips to save on energy and reduce electricity bills:
- Perform regular preventive maintenance on appliances.
- Use energy-efficient thermostat settings.
- Switch out your lightbulbs.
- Put a stop to standby power.
- Drop the hot water heater temperature.
- Be smart about appliance usage.
- Stop the flow of heat out of your home.
- Plug air leaks.
- Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances.
- Replace or insulate old windows.
Here are a few ways to implement these tips that will help you see significant savings.
1. Perform Regular Preventive Maintenance on Appliances
The less efficiently an appliance runs, the more energy it is likely to use. This is especially true of home heating and cooling systems. Having an HVAC system inspected and tuned annually, as well as regularly changing filters, can go a long way in keeping it operating efficiently.
Refrigerators and dryers are two more appliances that can cost more to run if they aren’t well maintained. Keep your dryer lint trap clear and have the vent hose cleaned out annually. Refrigerator coils should be cleaned regularly, too, and door gaskets replaced as necessary. Bonus tip: A full fridge and freezer will use less energy to stay cool than minimally-stocked appliances.
2. Use Energy-Efficient Thermostat Settings
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a homeowner can save 10% annually on heating and cooling a home simply by adjusting the thermostat seven to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its typical setting for eight hours a day. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the less energy will be used.
Having a programmable thermostat can make controlling a home’s temperature easier. A thermostat programmed for the optimal settings for different times of the day can help ensure a home’s temperature stays comfortable and energy bills remain reasonable.
3. Switch Out Your Lightbulbs
LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can save the average homeowner up to $225 per year.
To save even more, use those LED bulbs less. Rely on natural light as much as possible during the day and turn lights off any time they aren’t needed.
4. Put a Stop To Standby Power
Energy used by products switched off or in standby mode is known as phantom power or standby power. It accounts for 5% to 10% of residential energy use. These phantom electronics include game systems, TVs, phone chargers and coffee makers. Putting some of these devices on power strips that can easily be turned on and off can save considerable energy.
5. Drop the Hot Water Heater Temperature
Heating water is the third biggest use of energy in most homes. The optimum temperature for hot water heaters is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, both in terms of function and energy efficiency. Those in colder climates might consider using a water heater blanket to ensure the tank is well-insulated.
6. Be Smart About Appliance Usage
Reducing appliance usage is one of the easier ways to save energy. Only wash full loads of clothes and dishes. Dry clothes on a cycle that uses the automatic sensor to detect when to shut off and turn off ceiling fans and lights when leaving any room.
7. Stop the Flow of Heat Out of Your Home
Insulation prevents hot outdoor air from flowing into a cooled home and warm air from flowing out when it is cold outside. So a properly insulated home will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Ensuring adequate insulation might be a task better left to a professional who can assess a home’s insulation needs and install additional layers where necessary to make the home more energy efficient.
8. Plug Air Leaks
Air sealing involves reducing the amount of cool and hot air leaking from a dwelling, causing the HVAC system to work harder to maintain the thermostat temperature. Use caulking and weather-stripping to seal cracks and openings, especially those around door and window frames.
9. Upgrade To Energy-Efficient Appliances
Upgrading old appliances to new energy-efficient models can cost quite a bit initially. Still, for people who expect to remain in their home for years, this upgrade can lead to significant savings over time. Even the expense of a new HVAC system can pay for itself depending on how much energy the old unit is wasting.
10. Replace or Insulate Old Windows
Window replacement is another energy-saving investment with a high initial cost. However, as with upgrading appliances, it can make financial sense for homeowners who plan on staying in the home long-term. Those who can’t replace windows may be able to better insulate them with blackout curtains or a window insulation kit.
Learning how to save energy is helpful for those who wish to implement energy conservation and efficiency measures. Almost any homeowner or apartment dweller can reduce energy usage and lower electric bills by following these simple tips.
Start small. Pick up a few power strips and determine the optimal energy-saving thermostat settings for your home. Then move on to the more expensive tasks that will lead to more significant savings. Renters may even be able to convince their landlords to make some of these improvements.
Saving Energy FAQHere are quick answers to popular questions about reducing home energy use and waste.
- How can I reduce energy use in my home?
- Reducing home energy use typically involves making the home as energy efficient as possible and using as little electricity as necessary. Improving energy efficiency includes replacing old appliances and windows with more energy-efficient ones and incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. Using less energy is easier and includes tasks such as turning off lights and fans when leaving rooms and unplugging electronics and chargers that use energy in standby mode.
- How can I reduce energy waste?
- One significant way to reduce energy waste in the home is to ensure that as little hot and cool air escapes from the home. Make sure cracks around windows and doors are sealed and HVAC ductwork is free of leaks. Also, determine phantom load sources, unplug them when not in use and turn off lights whenever possible.
- What uses the most electricity?
- Climate control and water heating typically consume the most electricity in homes.
Information is accurate as of Aug. 1, 2022.
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- Consumer Reports. 2021. "10 Ways to Save Energy Doing Laundry."
- Real Simple. 2022. "Refrigerator Maintenance Steps You Should Know to Save on Energy Costs."
- My Florida Home Energy. "Water Heating: Basics."