While most homeowners would like to be more energy efficient and save money, often it feels overwhelming to know where to start.
How can the average family use less energy, lower its utility bill and still meet its daily energy needs? To help jumpstart your effort, it helps to know what the top energy users are in your home. That way, you can choose a path that works best for your family.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the top five energy users in U.S. homes are:
- Space heating
- Space cooling
- Water heating
Adjust the temperature
Together, home heating and cooling use the most energy and take the biggest bite out of your energy budget. On the bright side, there are ways you can save at least 10 percent by taking a few simple low-cost or no-cost steps.
- During cold weather, set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- During warm weather, the recommended indoor temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cleaning the filters of your HVAC system can cut costs from five to 15 percent.
- Clean the coils around your electric baseboard heater to maintain maximum efficiency.
- Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping to the outdoors.
Regardless of the climate or time of year, proper use of a programmable thermostat can reduce your utility bill by 10 percent.
Shine the light on savings
Take a fresh look at the lighting in your home. If you still use incandescent lighting, your lightbulbs are operating at only 25 percent energy efficiency. Replacing your home’s five most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR-certified LEDs can save you $75 per year. Another easy way to save is to always turn lights off in rooms that are not being used.
Water heating efficiency
Just as it is energy-wise to insulate your roof, wall or floor, it also pays to wrap your hot water heater with an insulating blanket. This is all the more critical if you have an older unit. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Some newer water heater manuals recommend not using an insulating blanket. A good rule of thumb is to put your hand on the side of your water heater. If it feels warm, put a blanket on it. If it isn’t warm, no heat is escaping. For additional efficiency and savings, insulate exposed hot water lines and drain one to two gallons of water from the bottom of your tank annually to prevent sediment build-up.
Put cold hard cash back in your wallet
If your refrigerator was purchased before 2001, chances are it uses 40 percent more energy than a new ENERGY STAR model. If you are considering an appliance update, remember: a new Energy Star refrigerator uses at least 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models and 20 percent less energy than required by current federal standards.
Regardless of the age of your fridge, there are additional steps you can take to save energy and money. For example, don’t keep your refrigerator too cold. The Department of Energy recommends temperatures between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for separate freezers (used for long-term storage).
By understanding how your home uses energy, you can determine the best ways to modify energy use and keep more money in your wallet. For more ways to save, give us a call at 574-223-3156.
Member Services Manager and
Energy Advisor at Fulton County REMC