The joy of saving money on energy can provide rewards that increase your bank account and challenge you to develop a plan to do it. Most people like to win, and you can turn energy savings into a game where you beat your opponent every time. When you think about your energy company as a huge monster that takes bites out of your budget every month, you can enjoy making the bites as small as possible. These 10 steps give you tips on how to win the energy game.
1. Get the facts about your energy usage.
Your electric bill lists how much energy you use in kilowatt-hours per month. Until you face the reality of using too much, you may not know how to cut down on it. Find the kHw amounts for a year and write them down. Enter them on an interactive form to see where you rank on a yardstick of usage. It takes a little bit of effort to find the information and enter it, but it gives you a target to hit when you want to reduce your electric bill.
2. Try solar energy.
Americans have a reputation for finding a better way to do something, and you can do it too by using solar technology. You get to reduce the amount you pay to the electric company each month as you earn a significant return on your investment. When you use a solar energy system as a shield against the rising cost of electricity, you increase American energy independence.
At night or when power outages occur, you can rely on your stored energy to avoid any interruption in service. As someone who cares about protecting the planet, you can appreciate the fact that solar energy produces no greenhouse gas emissions. Electric companies burn fossil fuel to generate electricity, but solar offers clean energy with no side effects.
3. Control your water use.
The Environmental Protection Agency states that a 10-minute shower uses 30 – 50 gallons of water, and about 65% of it comes through the tap heated. Hot water costs more and uses more energy than cold, but you have an alternative that works when you install a low-flow showerhead. Set a goal that limits showers to four minutes to control the excessive use of hot water. A four-minute timer can help everyone know when a shower needs to end.
4. Let a thermostat control room temperature.
Home heating costs about $662 per year, and your cooling costs add approximately $394 more. The combined total accounts for almost half of home energy costs. The exorbitant expense of heating and cooling makes your HVAC an excellent place to start to reduce usage and expenditures. You can save energy when you set the thermostat at 78°F for cooling and 68°F for heating. Encourage family members who want to feel warmer or cooler to wear a sweater or shed some clothing. Make sure that everyone lets the thermostat control the temperature without making any adjustments to it. Every degree of extra heating or cooling increases your energy use by as much as 8%.
5. Break the light habit.
When you commit to reducing your use of home energy, you may find that some bad habits get in your way. A light switch has a single purpose of providing light in a room when someone needs it but not when no one occupies the space. Even then, most people can find familiar objects in their usual locations without turning on a light and potentially leaving it on. Lighting expenses amount to only one-quarter of your heating and cooling costs. However, your savings can amount to hundreds of dollars annually when you turn off unused lights.
6. Tackle the energy waste in the laundry.
A task that many families face 30-50 times each year offers plenty of ways to save money on energy costs. A full washer requires about the same amount of energy as a partially filled one, giving you an opportunity for efficiency just by loading it fully. Detergent manufacturers developed products that clean very effectively in cold water. About 90% of the energy that a washer uses comes from heating the water. You can reduce the cost of running your machine by half with one easy step. When you lower the settings from hot to warm, you achieve significant savings that you can increase by using cold water.
7. Lessen the demand.
You have less need to use air conditioning when you reduce the amount of heat that enters your home. Some ways that you may consider include closing the drapes, a practice that prevents the sun’s rays from discoloring your furniture. In the winter, open them to receive the warmth from the sun to lower your heating costs. Let nature help you control the heat gain in your home by planting trees or shrubs outside the windows that face the sun. Bring decorative plants inside to lower the level of humidity that can make a room seem warmer.
8. Choose a safe setting for your water heater.
The factory setting for the thermostat on your water heater may reach 140ºF, a level that can harm an unsuspecting user and consume too much energy as well. To prevent scalding and promote energy conservation, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends a temperature setting of 120ºF. Your savings may amount to as much as $61 each year from standby heat losses and hundreds more from demand losses.
9. Look for savings in unusual places.
Your computer and monitor have power management features that can help reduce your energy costs. Many people let their home office equipment run 24 hours a day, but you can save money if you do not. Electronics use less energy in sleep mode that lets them run cooler and last longer with practices that reduce the need for air conditioning. When your monitor has no activity, avoid using a screen saver. Your energy bill can start to diminish as you help protect the environment by turning off your fax machine, copier, printer and scanner. Remember to include your TVs and chargers as significant energy users. When you connect your electronic devices to a power strip, you can turn all of them off at the same time.
10. Consider some little-known facts.
The abundance of electronic equipment that you enjoy for work or entertainment can use more energy than you may imagine. Your laptop computer uses more than a desktop, and inkjet printers require more as well. DVRs draw power that you can avoid with a service from your cable company, and even the clock on your microwave involves electricity. No surprise, but your large TV requires more energy than smaller ones. When you know where to look for wasted energy that drives your electric bill, you can start to win the energy game.
Energy Concepts, serving Fresno and surrounding communities, is happy to discuss the benefits of going solar. Call (559) 377-7080 to schedule an appointment.