Tips To Save on Energy Costs: Solar Energy Savings and More

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Tips To Save on Energy Costs: Solar Energy Savings and More

Energy efficiency means using less energy — and therefore paying less money — to achieve the same level of comfort in your home.

These days, that means using technology and changing your behavior to use electricity and water more efficiently. As a result, you lower your monthly utility bills while helping the environment.

How do you reap the benefits? Let’s check out tried-and-true energy savings tips, including solar power.

Home Improvements To Save Energy

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, cooling and heating account for almost half the energy use in a typical home. Your lights, refrigerator, TV and other electronics consume about 20%. All together, this accounts for about two-thirds of your energy usage, which means reducing energy in these appliances can lead to significant savings.

Energy Audit

An audit from your utility or a local company is a good place to start. The auditor helps you find which home improvements would save the most money on your energy bill.

Attic Insulation 

Proper insulation, especially in your attic, is an easy way to reduce the burden on your air conditioner during the summer. Additionally, solar panels covering the sunniest parts of your roof create shade. In turn, that shade helps keep your home cooler, similar to insulation.

Window Sealing and Weather-Stripping 

Window sealants and weather-stripping are two of the easiest ways to prevent air flow into and out of your home. That back-and-forth flow prompts higher energy bills during hot and cold weather.

LED Light Bulbs 

LED lights are more economical and energy-efficient than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, and they provide a wider range of options that closely mimic natural light. Plus, you can enjoy lighting features such as timers that ensure they’re only on and consuming energy when you want them to. And remember to recycle your old light bulbs!

Energy Star Appliances 

This government program certifies a wide range of high-efficiency appliances that lower your energy costs. You’ll see the biggest savings from large home appliances, such as refrigerators and laundry machines. However, the program also offers certifications for office equipment, data centers and other commercial purposes.

Smart Thermostats

Your HVAC is responsible for a significant portion of your electricity use. 

A smart thermostat can help you conveniently save on energy by letting you program your home’s temperature based on your schedule. Turning the heat one or two degrees lower can make all the difference. That’s especially true when you’re asleep, have guests over or use the stove or oven. 

The Nest, ecobee, Emerson Sensi and Honeywell Lyric are all great smart thermostat options. 

Response Program 

Check with your utility company to see whether it has a demand response program, such as Austin Energy’s Power Partner or TXU iThermostat. These programs incentivize you for helping them balance electricity loads during peak demand periods.

HVAC Tune-Up 

Ensure your HVAC unit performs at peak efficiency to avoid overpaying for energy. You can even sign up for ongoing preventive services (like ABC Home & Commercial Services’ Proactive Maintenance program) so your HVAC upkeep remains stress-free. 

And although central heating lacks ambience, it’s more efficient than a fireplace. Unfortunately, cold air can enter your home via the flue.

Hot Water Heater

Older hot water heaters typically require more energy to run. Consider replacing your hot water heater with a newer model or insulating it with a heater blanket or wrap. 

Also consider turning your water heater down about 10 degrees if you host parties or welcome overnight guests. It’ll reduce your energy costs by 3% to 5%.

Landscaping for Shade 

Here’s another way to reduce your air conditioner’s load during hot summers while keeping your house warmer in the winter. Plant both south- and west-facing deciduous trees and shrubs to block sunlight.

Solar Panels 

Solar panels are a great way to reduce your energy bill and increase the value of your home. In addition to caring for the environment, solar power is another way to use technology and protect your finances from any future rise in energy costs. Solar energy savings span your home’s electrical needs!

[Related: Guide to Solar Panels]

Home Improvements To Save Water

The cost of water is lower than that of electricity, but you still pay for your monthly usage. 

Rain Barrel

Rainwater collection systems are an affordable and easy way to keep your plants and lawn happy year-round. As major bonuses, they reduce your water bill and save your treated drinking-quality water for home use.

Low-Flow or Dual-Flush Toilets

Flushing accounts for about 30% of indoor water use. That makes toilets the biggest water user in the home. Improved technology means new toilets can deliver the same performance with less than 1.3 gallons of water per flush, compared to as much as 6 gallons for older toilets.

Native Landscaping

Replacing part of your lawn with native, drought-tolerant plants can lower your water usage. And depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a utility rebate!

Drip Irrigation

If you have a small lawn or sections of plants, install a drip irrigation system instead of sprinklers to minimize water evaporation or runoff.

Smart Sprinkler Controller

If you already have a sprinkler system, consider making it smarter. Look for smart controllers such as the Rachio 3, a Wi-Fi-enabled scheduling app for smartphones that makes automatic hyperlocal weather adjustments.

WaterSense Products 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has certified water-efficient products for both residential and commercial use. In addition to irrigation equipment and toilets, showerheads and faucets are available.

[Related: Solar Cost Estimator]

10 Easy Lifestyle Tips for Saving Energy

Taking simple daily actions can reduce your energy consumption without sacrificing any hefty investments or lifestyle trade-offs:

  1. Let your dishes air-dry instead of using the “dry” dishwasher setting.
  2. Change air filters regularly so your electricity system doesn’t overwork.
  3. Clean the lint filter in your laundry dryer after every load.
  4. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  5. Turn the hot water heater temperature down to warm (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
  6. Open windows and use ceiling fans to cool a room in the summer. Reverse the blade direction in the winter to make a room warmer.
  7. Only run full loads in the laundry (washing and drying) and dishwashers. 
  8. Use cold water for laundry and showering more regularly or whenever possible. 
  9. Use smart power strips to avoid charging appliances when you aren’t using them.
  10. Don’t leave your phone plugged in overnight. It’s bad for the battery and wastes electricity!

Considerations for New Home and Business Construction

Residential Buildings

If you’re building a new house or planning an extensive remodel, incorporate energy efficiency into your design. It’ll deliver even bigger savings and financial returns:

  • Cool roofs use reflective materials such as thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO). It’s a type of single-ply roofing that absorbs less sunlight and keeps your home cooler in the summer.
  • Passive solar home design considers the home, landscaping and environment to minimize energy use. It does so through strategic selection and placement of materials such as windows, thermal mass materials (ranging from masonry to water-based products) and distribution mechanisms to transfer heat to the right places at the right times.
  • Advanced house framing minimizes lumber usage and reduces construction waste.

Commercial Buildings

Commercial buildings are responsible for about 20% of U.S. energy consumption. Professionals can scale up many home energy efficiency improvements for commercial buildings. That makes an even greater impact on energy reduction and results in more savings. 

Here are some key areas of focus for commercial energy efficiency:

  • Smart energy management systems
  • HVAC
  • Lighting
  • Roof materials
  • Solar panels (leading to solar energy savings)
  • Insulation and windows
  • Water usage in bathrooms

[Related: Businesses Continue To Choose Renewable Energy]

Solar Power Tips for Hot Days

Summer is the peak time of year for power generation, making it a great time to have your solar panels installed and ready for use. This ensures they soak up all the rays they can. And just like a car, you should regularly check your panels to make sure they perform as efficiently as possible.

Here are a few quick steps you can take to ensure peak performance and reap solar energy savings:

[Related: 50 Facts About Solar Power]

Consider Renewable Solar Power for Electricity Use

Going solar helps you gain energy independence and protects against cost fluctuations that lead to high electric bills. Ensuring your home and appliances run efficiently keeps costs down, too.

To learn more energy efficiency facts and tips, visit the National Resources Defense Council. You can always contact Freedom Solar for information on residential or commercial solar panels and how they help you save money on your home electricity bill.

You have dozens of ways to enjoy solar energy savings, so why wait? Get in touch today! Call (877) 795-0577, or fill out our online contact form

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Willie Nelson for Freedom Solar

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