There are lots of ways to save energy. You can replace your old appliances with new Energy Star appliances. You can install solar panels. You can invest in insulating storm windows that reduce temperature loss. They’re all great solutions, but they’re also big ticket items. Those storm windows can set you back as much as $10,000! Sure, you’ll get your investment back over time in the form of lower energy bills. But if you get creative, you can find all kinds of small, effective, inexpensive energy savings tips. Here are 10 of my favorite ways to save energy. You’re invited to share yours.
1. You can’t fix a problem until you know you’ve got a problem. To identify your in-home energy hogs, do a home energy audit. It’s the first step to figuring out how much energy you’re using and what you can do to make your home more energy efficient. You can do it yourself or hire a pro. The U.S. Department of Energy website has a section that shows you how to conduct your own home energy audit. They also have valuable information on professional energy assessment, if you decide to go that route.
2. Mother Earth News has 10 useful energy saving tips including some you might not have thought about. For instance, they suggest that you minimize phantom loads. The U.S. DOE says that 75% of the electricity used to power your electronic equipment is consumed while the equipment is turned off. Wow! Who knew? So, if you’re not using something, unplug it.
3. Did you know that conserving water can also lower your energy bill? Water heating is the third biggest energy eater in your home. When you use less hot water for showering, washing clothes and doing dishes, you’ll save energy and lower your water bill, too. An easy way to save is to simply lower your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. Check out the EPA’s WaterSense program for more tips.
4. Plant trees and shrubs to create natural, cooling shade. Properly placed plantings can reduce your summer electric bill by up to 40% and even improve insulation in the winter. Many cities offer free or low-cost shade trees to help defray the expense. Check with your local utility to see if they offer such a program. Learn more about the proper way to plant at ArborDay.org.
5. Instead of burning your porch lights from dusk to dawn, The Daily Green recommends that you install motion sensors on your outdoor lighting. It’s one of seven simple energy saving ideas they offer.
6. Clean and replace filters on A/C, furnace and clothes dryer. Keeping filters clean not only saves energy, it increases the life of your appliances.
7. Run full loads in your washer, dryer and dishwasher. You’ll save energy and money on detergent. Even better, when the weather permits, line dry clothes outdoor. You’ll save about 40 cents per load and you’ll love the way sheets smell when they’ve dried in the sun.
8. Instead of turning on the oven to bake a couple of potatoes, use a countertop toaster or convection oven. Use a small electric skillet or crock pot to cook stews or casseroles instead of your range top. And does anybody NOT use their microwave to boil water?
9. If a brand new refrigerator isn’t in your future right now, you can still improve the energy efficiency of your old model. Once or twice a year, unplug your refrigerator, pull it out from the wall and vacuum the dust that collects on the condenser coils and motor. Check the seals around the refrigerator and freezer doors while you’re at it. If you can move a dollar bill through the closed door, you’ve got a loose seal. That means your refrigerator is working harder and using more energy to keep food cold.
10. Replace old lamps with LED-lighting. The initial cost is higher, but the lights use 10 times less energy and last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They also use one-third the energy and last 5 times longer than compact fluorescents, while giving a warmer, more pleasant light.