Heating And Cooling
Electricity costs have been on the rise and the average homeowner can do several things to combat the costs of energy in their home. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can lower your electric bill. Home heating and cooling are 10 of the biggest culprits behind hefty utility bills — and the best places to look for cost-cutting opportunities.
Check seals on windows, doors and appliances. Make sure your fridge and freezer are well sealed to keep the cold air where it belongs. Same goes for your doors and windows. A bad seal allows energy to seep out, draining your wallet in the process.
Fix leaky ductwork and improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems by repairing leaky heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts. Give your thermostat a nudge and set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you. Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature. Set your fridge to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. This will keep your food fresh, but your fridge and freezer won’t need to work as hard to maintain the temperature.
Hot water is the second-largest expense in powering most homes, according to the Energy Department. Cutting back on your hot water usage in the shower, laundry and dishwasher can make a sizable dent in your overall energy bill. Try taking shorter showers. Trimming two minutes off your shower time can cut your water usage by 10 gallons. Replacing your shower head with an efficient shower head can reduce your water usage by 2,700 gallons per year. Look for one with the WaterSense label, which is certified to meet efficiency criteria set by the EPA.
Don’t wash your clothes in hot water. Cut your per-load energy usage in half by sticking to warm or cold water when you do laundry. Fix any leaky faucets. That drip isn’t just annoying, it wastes gallons of water. Adjust the temperature on your water heater. The default temperature setting on water heaters is typically 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees can reduce your water heating costs by up to 10%. Turn your water heater to the lowest setting to conserve energy usage when away from home for extended periods of time.
Purchase energy efficient appliances. If you’re in the market for a new washer, dishwasher or water heater, buy an energy efficient model to yield long-term savings. A dishwasher with the Energy Star label is required to use 5.8 gallons of water or less per cycle, compared to the more than 10 gallons used by some older models. Ask about discounted rates. Some utility providers offer cheaper rates during certain times of the day, making laundry and other energy-intensive chores 5% to 25% less expensive during off-peak times.
Power and lighting
Keeping the lights and electronics on accounts for roughly 12% of a home’s energy usage. Swap out your light bulbs and save $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your most used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label. Installing dimmer switches lets you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity.
Utilize smart power strips. Some electronic gadgets never truly power off; instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can add up over devices and time. These are usually items with a remote control, because the remote sensor needs power while waiting for your input. Plug these electronics into a smart power strip, which cuts off the current when the devices aren’t in use. Ask for an energy audit. Utility providers will often conduct a home energy audit, sometimes for free, and can identify additional ways to reduce your energy usage.
Have you ever considered installing solar panels on your roof? Many homeowners are wary of doing so because of the upfront costs associated with this energy efficient home improvement project. But the upfront costs will soon be covered because of the money you save with solar panels. How? Here are a few ways you can save money when you install solar panels. Save money on electric bills. Using solar panels instead of relying on a utility company can help you cut your electric bill drastically each month. When your home has solar panels, energy from the sun will be used to power your electricity, except for when the sun is not present, such as during thunderstorms or at night. In these cases, regular electricity provided through your local utility company will be used as a backup. But remember, using power from the sun is free—so you will just have to pay for the electricity you use when the sun’s not out.
Use solar energy for tax credits. Depending on where you live, you may be entitled to tax credits for making the environmentally-conscious decision to install solar panels. For example, the state of Maryland is one of many states that offers residents clean energy grants as well as Solar Renewable Energy Credits as an incentive for installing solar panels. But regardless of where you live, you could be eligible to receive a federal tax credit for your solar panels. The federal government will pay for up to 30% through the end of 2019 of your solar panel installation cost, making it far more affordable than you originally thought.
Steady electric costs
Utility companies rely on coal, oil and natural gas to power homes across the country. The cost of all three of these fossil fuels are vulnerable to fluctuating markets, so homeowners may notice rising electricity costs as the years go by. But when you install solar panels, you free yourself from having to worry about how much your electric company will charge you on a monthly basis. With solar panels, you are protecting yourself from having to deal with the rising electricity costs that will inevitably happen within the next few years.