Save Energy, Save the Environment
Just like that, fall is upon us. For many of us, that means breaking out the sweaters and storm windows and preparing for the shorter hours of daylight ahead. And with a typical family spending nearly 30% of its annual energy bill in heating, there is no better time to start thinking about how to save both money and energy while helping the environment in the process. Here are seven conservation hacks to get you started:
1. Use a Programmable Thermostat
We know, the last thing you want to hear is for somebody to tell you to turn the heat down again. But a programmable thermostat will automatically adjust your heat so you don’t have to, making it lower when you’re sleeping or away from home, and higher when you’re there. By simply turning a thermostat down seven to ten degrees from its normal setting for eight hours a day, you can knock some 10% off your energy bill.
2. Turn Down the Water Heater
Many manufacturers set their heaters to 140ºF when, in most cases,120ºF would do just fine. In addition to the reduced consumption, you’ll also save in heat loss from the water heater into the surrounding area, with total savings of up to $450 a year. Better yet, you won’t have to worry about scalding yourself at the sink or in the shower anymore.
3. Go Low-Flow
While we’re on the subject of showers, let’s talk about how to save not only heat, but also water. The average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water a day – that’s 29,000 gallons a year. So go low-ﬂow: on toilets, faucets, and showers. And when using the washing machine, make sure you wash full loads only or adjust the water setting to accommodate for smaller loads.
4. Purchase Energy-Eﬃcient Appliances
You know that yellow sticker on appliances such as boilers, refrigerators, and televisions? That’s the EnergyGuide label, and it contains important information about estimated yearly operating cost and electricity use. Best of all are appliances that qualify for the government’s EnergyStar qualification, which means they meet certain eﬃciency requirements that generate significant energy savings.
Heat ﬂows through three mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation. Bottom line? This means that heat constantly ﬂows from warmer to cooler areas until there is no longer a temperature difference. And with this handy tool from the U.S. Department of Energy, you can now find out exactly how much insulation your home should have based on age, location, and number of residents—and how much you’ll save as a result.
6. Seal the Drafts
Insulation is great for walls, attics, and basements, but warm air can still leak out through the gaps around windows and doors. So take some time to track down the leaks in your house and then seal them off with your choice of caulking, weather stripping, sealant, or even a good, old-fashioned set of drapes.
7. Plant Trees
But aren’t we talking about how to save energy inside the home? That’s what planting trees does – all year round. In the summer, they provide shade and cool the air, while in the winter, they can protect from cold winds. By planting deciduous trees on the south, east, and west of your home, you’ll get the best of both worlds: shade in the summer and warmth from the winter sun when they shed their leaves.
These are just a few of the ways you can bring your energy bill down, saving both money and precious resources. With just 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. uses an astonishing 25% of the world’s energy resources. We can do better – one house at a time. For more great DIY energy-savings projects, please visit the Department of Energy’s page here.