Tips to Save on Energy Costs
September 10, 2021
Energy efficiency is defined as 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 and, as a result, lowering your monthly utility bills while helping the environment.
HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO SAVE ENERGY
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, cooling and heating accounts for almost half of the energy use in a typical home, and your lights, refrigerator, TV, and other electronics consume about 20%. Together, this accounts for about two-thirds of your energy usage, which means reducing energy in these appliances can lead to significant savings.
An audit from your utility or a local company is a good place to start when it comes to finding out which home improvements will help you save the most money on your energy bill.
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 also create shade, which helps keep your home cooler, providing a similar benefit 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, which induces 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 also provide a wider range of options that closely mimic natural light. You can also 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 lightbulbs!
Energy Star Appliances
This governmental 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, but the program also offers certifications for office equipment, data centers, and other commercial purposes.
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, especially when you are asleep, have guests over, or are using the stove or oven.
The Nest, ecobee, Emerson Sensi, and Honeywell Lyric are all great options for a smart thermostat.
Check with your utility company to see if they have a demand response program such as Austin Energy’s Power Partner or TXU iThermostat, which incentivize you for helping them balance electricity loads during peak demand periods.
Ensure your HVAC unit is performing at peak efficiency to avoid overpaying for energy. You can even sign up for ongoing preventative services like ABC Home & Commercial Services’ Proactive Maintenance program so your HVAC upkeep can remain stress-free.
And while central heating lacks in ambience, it’s more efficient than a fireplace because 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.
And consider turning your water heater down about ten degrees if you host parties or welcome overnight guests — this will reduce your energy costs by 3% to 5%.
Landscaping for Shade
Another way to reduce your air conditioner’s load during hot summers — while keeping your house warmer in the winter — is to plant both south- and west-facing deciduous trees and shrubs to block sunlight.
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 utilize technology and protect your finances from any future rise in energy costs.
[Related: Guide to Solar Panels]
HOME IMPROVEMENTS TO SAVE WATER
While the cost of water is lower than electricity, you’re still paying for your usage each month.
Rainwater collection systems are an affordable and easy way to keep your plants and lawn happy year-round while reducing your water bill and saving your treated drinking-quality water for home use.
Low-Flow or Dual-Flush Toilets
Flushing accounts for about 30% of indoor water use, making toilets the biggest water user in the home. Improved technology means that 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.
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.
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 installed, consider making it smarter. Look for smart controllers such as the Rachio 3, a WiFi-enabled scheduling app for smartphones that makes automatic hyperlocal weather adjustments.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has certified water-efficient products for both residential and commercial use. In addition to irrigation products and toilets, showerheads and faucets are also available.
10 EASY LIFESTYLE TIPS FOR SAVING ENERGY
Carrying out a number of simple daily actions can reduce your energy consumption without sacrificing any hefty investments or lifestyle trade-offs:
- Let your dishes air-dry instead of using the “dry” setting on your dishwasher.
- Change air filters regularly so your electricity system doesn’t have to overwork.
- Clean the lint filter in your laundry dryer after every load.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
- Turn the hot water heater temperature down to warm (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Open windows and use ceiling fans to help a room feel cooler in the summer, and reverse the blade direction in the winter to make a room feel warmer.
- Only run full loads in the laundry (washing and drying) and dishwasher machines.
- Use cold water for laundry and showering more regularly or whenever possible.
- Use smart power strips to avoid charging appliances when you aren’t using them.
- Don’t leave your phone plugged in overnight; it’s bad for the battery and wastes electricity!
CONSIDERATIONS FOR NEW HOME AND BUSINESS CONSTRUCTION
If you’re building a new house or planning an extensive remodel, incorporating energy efficiency into your design will help in delivering even bigger savings and financial returns:
- Cool roofs use reflective materials such as thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), 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 usage 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 appropriate places at the right times.
- Advanced house framing minimizes lumber usage and reduces construction waste.
Commercial buildings are responsible for about 20% of the U.S.’s energy consumption. Many home energy efficiency improvements can be scaled up for commercial buildings to make an even greater impact on energy reduction, resulting in more savings.
Key areas of focus for commercial energy efficiency include:
- Smart energy management systems
- Roof materials
- Solar panels
- Insulation and windows
- Water usage in bathrooms
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’re soaking up all the rays they can; and just like a car, you should regularly check your panels to make sure they’re performing as efficiently as possible.
Here are a few quick steps you can take to ensure peak performance:
- Ensure that your system is working properly.
- Inspect panels regularly. Visually inspecting your panels twice a year for any debris buildup or rodent nesting activity ensures your panels are maintaining quality function.
- Trim your trees. To ensure that you’re maximizing your solar output, inspect the trees around your roof to make sure that they are trimmed and not causing any shading.
[Related: 50 Facts About Solar Power]
CONSIDER RENEWABLE SOLAR POWER FOR ELECTRICITY USE
Going solar will help you gain energy independence and protection against cost fluctuations that lead to high electric bills. And making sure your home and appliances are running efficiently will keep costs down, too.
To learn more energy efficiency facts and tips, visit the National Resources Defense Council, or contact Freedom Solar to get information on residential or commercial solar panels and how they can help you save money on your home electricity bill. Get in touch today by calling +1 (877) 795-0577, or fill out the online form on our contact page.