Here’s a fact: When you save energy, you save money. Here’s another fact: You don’t have to wait to start saving money off your monthly utility bills — you can start saving today by making some simple changes to the way you use energy in your home. Here are six tips to help you start saving energy and money right away.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable digital thermostats are more accurate and efficient when it comes to keeping your house comfortably cool in the summer and comfortably warm in the winter. Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter when you’re home, then program it to raise the temperature to 88 degrees in the summer and lower it to 58 degrees in the winter when you’re away at work or out of the house for a while. This is called “setback.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you’ll save about 1 percent off your monthly utility bill for each degree of setback as long as the total setback period is least 8 hours a day.
2. Turn Off Your Computer and Monitor– Don’t Just Put Them to Sleep
Setting your desktop computer and monitor or laptop computer to sleep may be a convenience when it comes to how quickly you can resume work or play, but sleep mode uses a lot more electricity than you think. Sleep mode still consumes about 10 to 30 percent of the electricity a computer or monitor uses in full operation. And since computers and electronics account for almost 10 percent of the average home’s electric bill, there’s room for some real savings by simply shutting your computer down.
3. Use Power Strips for Everything
All your home electronics and gadgets continue to draw electricity when they’re “off” because they need juice for features like clocks, powering sensors that await commands from remote controls or carrying out scheduled tasks like recording your favorite shows. In fact, modern technology rarely ever turns off. To make sure that your technology does, attach it to power strips and then turn off the strips when you’re not using any of the electronics plugged into them. While it’s not necessarily a good solution for DVRs if you like to record shows, it’ll work wonders for things like computers and home theater systems.
4. Air Dry Dishes and Clothes
To save energy when you wash your dishes, turn off the heat dry feature and let your dishwasher air dry your dishes. To save energy when washing clothes, opt to dry them on a clothesline rather than in the clothes drier. Your clothes will last a lot longer and you’ll save money if you don’t pay to dry them with a machine.
5. Wash Only Full Loads
Washing dishes and clothes when the machine is only partially full wastes a lot of energy and water. If you have them, use energy efficiency settings on your dishwasher and clothes washer to help more closely match your energy and water use with your workload. In clothes washing machines, for example, wash only full loads using cold water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fully 85 to 90 percent of energy use in clothes washers goes towards heating water and washing only full loads will save the average homeowner 3,400 gallons of water a year.
6. Lower the Thermostat on Your Hot Water Heater
Some water heater manufacturers set their thermostats at 140 degrees. Not only is that inefficient, but water that hot can scald you. Instead, set your water heater to 120 degrees — each 10 degree reduction in water temperature can save you from 3 to 5 percent off your energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
U.S. Department of Energy booklet, “Energy Savers Booklet: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home.”
Energy Savers website, “Thermostats and Control Systems.”
Energy Savers website, “Lower Water Heating Temperature for Energy Savings.”
Energy Savers website, “When to Turn Off Personal Computers.”
ENERGY STAR website, “Top 10 Tips for Renters!”