Looking for ways to save some money? One of the easiest ways to cut costs is to make your home energy efficient. Here's seven tips for making your home greener, while saving some green in the process.
1. Sealing and insulation: Sealing and insulating the "envelope" or "shell" of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.
2. Lighting: Change out 5 of the most frequently used lights in the home to ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs and save about $70 in energy costs. There is now a full range of CFLs for the home including flood lights, can lights, 3-way lights and dimmable bulbs. Even if you don’t purchase CFLs right away, always turn off your lights when leaving a room. Turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb, that would otherwise burn eight hours a day, can save about $15 per year!
3. Thermostat: When used properly, a programmable thermostat can save up to $180 a year in energy costs. Save with a manual thermostat, too! Every degree the thermostat is set up in hot weather or down in cold weather will help save on the overall energy bill.
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4. Electronics: Even when turned off, electronic and IT equipment and battery chargers often use a small amount of electricity. This stand-by or “phantom” power load can range from a few watts to as much as 20 or even 40 watts for each piece of equipment. Using a power strip for your TV, computer and all peripheral equipment allows you to completely disconnect the power supply from the power source, eliminating standby power consumption.
5. Washing & Drying: Water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor. Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater) and more than $30 annually (with a gas water heater). Buy an ENERGY STAR qualified washing machine and save 30% energy while using 50% less water than you would with a standard model.
One of the easiest things you can do to increase drying efficiency is to clean the lint trap before each and every load. This step can save you up to $34 each year. Also, hang drying your clothes can save a lot of energy.
6. Showering: A 5-minute shower can use almost half as much water as a full bath. With a new 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low-flow) shower head, a 5-minute shower will use less than 13 gallons of water, saving you 8-10 gallons of water over a typical bath. A new showerhead also will save energy — up to $145 each year on electricity — beating out both the bath and an old-fashioned showerhead.
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7. Take advantage of local programs: Be sure to take advantage of your utility’s energy saving programs and discounts. For example, northern and central California residents can take voluntarily enroll in PG&E’s Smart AC program, http://www.pge-smartac.com.
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