6 easy ways to save energy (and money)
Trying to keep your home cool in the summer or warm in the winter are big drivers of overall energy costs, but no matter what time of year it is, you’re probably using more energy than you think. Even little things, like leaving device chargers plugged in, can cost you over the long haul.
As electricians, we know that using power efficiently isn’t just good for your home’s electrical system—it also can save you money. Our favorite energy-saving tips are below. Most of them are easy, and many of them are completely free!
- Turn your thermostat up (or down). Whether you have a programmable thermostat or a manual one, adjusting your temperature settings for when you’re away or asleep can cut almost $200 off your annual energy costs. Every degree makes a difference.
- Maintain your HVAC equipment—and don’t forget those filters! Regular maintenance for your furnace and AC unit will keep them running at maximum efficiency, and also prevent the risk of malfunctions. Frequently cleaning or replacing your air-intake filters to remove dust will help, too.
- Look at your lights. From your outdoor porch light—usually one of a home’s most-used fixtures—to all of your other bulbs, consider LEDs or CFLs, which use far less energy and last a lot longer than old-style incandescent lights. Motion-sensing fixtures are great for outdoor uses, because they only turn on when someone is there. (And as a bonus, they can help scare off would-be burglars.)
- Don’t just put devices to sleep—power down and unplug. According to energystar.gov, households in the U.S. spend about $100 a year on powering devices that are in low-power mode or turned off, but still plugged in. Even chargers left plugged into an outlet while not connected to a device draw a little bit of power—maybe not enough to make a huge difference cost-wise for an individual, but multiply it by millions and millions of households doing the same thing, and it adds up in terms of overall energy use.
- Use less hot water. Do you take baths or showers? You can save a lot of water—and a lot of the energy it takes to heat that water—by showering. And it doesn’t need to be super quick, either; if you have a low-flow shower head, even a 10-minute shower could save you nearly $150 a year on electricity versus baths. It’s also important to fix any leaky faucets, and even scrape dishes (instead of using hot water to rinse them) before you put them into the dishwasher.
- Always look for leaks. Poor insulation or badly sealed doors and windows will increase your heating and cooling costs (or at the very least, make your home colder or warmer than you want it to be). In the winter, cold air gets in and warm air escapes—and the reverse happens in the summer. Check for drafty spots around your home; often, you can easily address them yourself with door sweeps, new caulking, and other measures.