There are many factors that contribute to our residential energy usage. We use energy to cool our homes in the summer, heat them in the winter, and run our appliances and electronics. More often than not, we use more energy than we truly need.
By cutting back on unnecessary energy usage we can reduce our environmental impact as well as save money on energy bills. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can reduce your energy bill by focusing in on three specific areas of energy consumption:
1. Electricity Costs
2. Cooling Costs
3. Water Heater Costs
Note: all of these could be classified under “electricity costs” but it is efficient (pun intended!) to segment them for an analysis of potential cost savings.
The majority of electric costs go to power lighting and appliances. Only about a third of households use electricity as their primary source of heating, as natural gas seems to be the principal source. For this reason, it is important to focus on a simple energy savings opportunity in the home, lighting.
For a simple solution to save money on energy bills, consider an investment in compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLS) or LED bulbs instead of standard bulbs. These bulbs use only a fraction of the energy of traditional ones and are less than half the cost per hour[i].
While you’re at it, pick up some timers that can automatically turn your lights (as well as other appliances) off automatically. These timing devices can also incorporate motion detection indoors or outdoors and automatically turn on lights for a preset amount of time when it senses someone is in the room and turn on spotlights when movement is suspected in an outdoor area, respectively. These timers and motion detectors can be picked up at your local home improvement store and offer convenience, energy conservation and of course, cost savings.
Other ways to save money on energy bills include getting smarter about how you cool your home. One way to do this is to use ceiling fans. Ceiling fans won’t decrease the temperature of a room on their own, but they will circulate the air making the room feel a few degrees cooler than it actually is. When you use a ceiling fan in conduction with an air conditioner you can actually increase the temperature a few degrees on your A/C which would lead to additional cost savings on your energy bill each month.
In the summer months the warmth from the sun coming through the windows can make a room hotter than you’d like causing your air conditioner to work harder than it has to. Installing window treatments will allow you to block the sun’s rays from increasing the temperature in your home and save money on your energy bills because you’re A/C won’t have to work as hard to maintain a certain temperature.
Speaking of maintaining a certain temperature, are you a homeowner that leaves your A/C set at the same temperature even when no one is at home? If so, you can save on energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat that automatically raises – and decreases – the temperature of your home according to your schedule.
Finally, be sure to change out your air conditioner filter regularly. This is by far the most important maintenance task you can perform on your own to ensure that you’re A/C is running as efficiently as possible. A dirty air conditioner filter can contribute to as much as five to 15 percent of your air conditioner’s energy consumption.
The water heater accounts for about 17 percent of the energy used by the average home. Most commonly, this hot water is used in your laundry machine, for rinsing and bathing, and for your dishwasher.
You can save money on energy bills by doing your laundry with cold water. If you must use hot water, make sure you are maximizing it with a full load of laundry. In most cases your laundry detergent will provide all the cleaning power you need and will negate the need for a constant supply of energy that the water heaters requires.
In the kitchen and bathroom, consider the installation of water-saving faucets and showerheads. Modern, money-saving water faucets and shower heads will still provide all the water pressure you need while helping to use less water in the kitchen, bathroom or shower.
Last but not least is the dishwasher, the appliance that typically uses about two percent of your utility bill. For starters, stop rinsing dishes off before you load them in the dishwasher. If you have scraped the food off the plate and have a dishwasher model that is Energy Star qualified, it will do the cleaning for you. Another way you can save on energy costs with the dishwasher is to make sure you run a full load whenever possible and turn off the heat drying option and let those suckers air dry.
As a responsible consumer of energy you can do your part to reduce our environmental impact on the earth as well as save money on energy bills. Saving a few dollars here and there can result in more significant gains at the end of the month and more substantial gains at the end of the year. Before you go to sleep tonight do a sweep of your home to see how you can put a plan into action to save money on your electricity, cooling and water heating costs right now and carry those savings throughout your year.