Wednesday, 08 September 2010 14:47
Soaring energy prices are here, not only at the gas pump, but in our own homes. American’s spend over 160 billion dollars a year to heat, cool, light and run their homes. That represents 21% of all the energy consumed in the United States each year. With a little planning and awareness most households could save 20-30 percent a year in their home energy costs. Let’s look at what you can do now to lower your energy bill and save hundreds of dollars a year!
Your biggest opportunity to save is with your heating and air cooling systems which accounts for up to 45 percent of your total energy use. It starts with simple maintenance.
- Have your system inspected at least once a year. Many heating and air conditioning companies have automatic maintenance programs.
- Clean your air filter every three months. A clogged filter puts stress and creates inefficiencies in your system.
- When replacing your system, look for units that are “Energy Star” rated by the Federal Government. These can save up to 20 percent in energy costs per year.
- Consider a programmable thermostat. When you are not at home it will automatically change temperature settings to save you as much as $150 per year!
- Seal and insulate all air ducts. This can be a huge factor with even a small leak.
- Keep debris away from your outside unit and make sure the coils are clean.
- Keep furniture away from air ducts
Lighting would seem to be a small energy consumer, but it accounts for 15 percent or more of your monthly utility bill! This is one of the easiest ways to save on energy for very little cost.
- Turn off lights when you are not in rooms! You can install motion lights that automatically turn off when you leave a room.
- Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer! You can save about $30 over each bulbs lifetime. These bulbs also produce 75 percent less heat saving on air conditioning costs.
- Look for the “Energy Star” seal when purchasing.
Here is an interesting statistic; If all American homes just replaced one traditional light bulb with a “CFL bulb” we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes, save $600 million annually and prevent green house gases equivalent to 800,000 cars!
Your water heater consumes over 20% of the energy used in today’s homes and often accounts for the most inefficiencies. A few quick tips to save lots of “energy cash.”
- Make sure the pipes leading into and out of your hot water heater are insulated.
- Consider a timer that cuts your water heater off when you are not at home or away on vacation. It can be set to come on before you arrive home and be ready for use.
- Drain a quart of water every few months from your water heater to remove sediment that can cover your heating coils.
- Check the entire house for faucet leaks. Even a small leak uses and incredible amount of energy.
Most homes have numerous “leak points.” Always check to make sure your insulation is in good shape.
- Check insulation around doors and windows.
- When replacing doors and windows consider highly insulated brands.
- On windows facing the sun in summer keep shades or curtains closed and consider reflective or shaded film to reduce heat.
- Check with your local utility company about performing a free “energy audit” on your home. Most provide this service at a low or no cost basis and could save you hundreds of dollars.
- Make sure the fireplace damper is closed when not in use. This is a major energy leak that few people think about.
Appliances are energy hogs in many cases especially if not properly utilized. Keep appliances off when not in use,
- keep your refrigerator set between 35-38 degrees and the freezer set between 0-5 degrees.
- Turn off the dry feature on your dishwasher and open the door for air drying.
- Make sure your clothes dryer filter is clean and that the exhaust duct is free of lint and particles. Not only does this reduce energy efficiency but it also creates a fire hazard.
- Wash and rinse clothes in cold water and use the proper amount of water for the load.
- When replacing any appliance, upgrade to an “Energy Star” rated product for maximum energy savings over the life of the product.
There are numerous websites that can help you with your energy savings effort. A few I recommend are:
www.energystar.gov This site has a wealth of information on energy savings and gives great recommendations on other sites.
http://www.irs.gov/newsroon/article/0..id=153397.00.html This IRS site provides information on tax credits for individuals who make energy efficient home improvements or who purchase hybrid or alternative fuel automobiles.
http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/ A great site for numerous energy saving ideas for the home and car!
Okay, you have your “to do” list for the weekend and you can start thinking what you are going to do with all that savings! Maybe buy some new energy efficient appliances? Just a thought!