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5 Ways To Reduce In-Home Energy Usage

Posted March 5, 2013 by Joe Pawlikowski to Frugality 0 0
This post was written by a EasyFinance.com Community member. The views expressed below may not reflect the views of EasyFinance.com.

Have you ever looked at your monthly energy bill and gasped? It happens to almost all home owners from time to time. There are just so many ways we consume energy in our homes that we're bound to overuse one source eventually.

How can homeowners get ahead of this problem? There are a few home upgrades we can make that will help reduce our energy consumption from month-to-month. Taken together they will lower average monthly energy consumption, and will help avoid those killer months that can really break your budget.

The old adage goes, you have to spend money to make money. The same goes for some of these improvements. Spend a little money now, save big later.

1. Double up your windows

When you were growing up, did your mom ever tell you to shut the door because, "we're not heating the entire neighborhood"? The principle is pretty simple. Your home heats and cools itself based on the internal temperature. If you leave the door open, air escapes. That means your HVAC system has to work harder to maintain a consistent temperature.

Even if you have all doors and windows closed, air can escape and enter. That's because older windows aren't sufficiently reinforced. Air leaks through gaps. The solution? Double-pane windows. Energy Star suggests that you can save hundreds of dollars per year by installing these protective windows. They'll eventually pay for themselves in what you save on your heating and cooling bills.

2. Swap your bulbs

By now you probably know that traditional incandescent bulbs consume far more electricity than is necessary to light your room. Not only that, but they have relatively short life spans. So not only are you consuming a disproportionate amount of electricity, but you are also spending more money replacing them more frequently. The frugal-minded have suggested longer-lasting and energy friendlier CFL bulbs, but they have their issues as well.

The latest trend in energy-saving bulbs is LED. In the past they've been used for outdoor lighting, but modern upgrades have made them efficient for in-home usage. Basically, anywhere you use a fluorescent light you can plug in an LED ligth and save. They last even longer than CFL bulbs, and are more environmentally friendly (in that they contain less mercury than CFL bulbs).

3. Upgrade your water heater

That big tank in your basement consumes plenty of energy. It has to keep itself warm at all times, so it can easily dispense hot water. How much do you think it costs to keep that tank warm all day? It's not cheap, I'll tell you that much.

No, you can't get by without a water heater. But you can change the type of water heater you install. There are many benefits of using a tankless heater. It provides hot water on-demand, so you're not heating a tank all day long. That works great for familiest that consume less hot water. According to the consumer energy center, tankless water heaters can save you 10 to 15 percent over a tank water heater.

4. Program the thermostat

What happens when you leave your home for work every day? Does your house continue regulating its temperature at its normal level? If you have an old thermostat, chances are that is the case. You can turn it down when you leave, but then it will be less than ideal when you return. Thankfully there are modern solutions to this problem. The best available is a programmable thermostat.

When you set up a programmable thermostat you let it know when you normally leave the house for the day. At that point the HVAC system raises the temperature (in the summer) or lowers the temperature (in the winter), thereby using less energy. Then you can program it to return to normal levels right before you're scheduled to come home. That way you're not wasting prescious dollars heating or cooling your home when you're not in it.

5. Unplug

Ever hear the term "phantom energy"? No, it's not energy generated by paranormal activity. It's electricty drawn from the wall that doesn't go to power any particular device. When is this phantom energy drawn? When you have an inactive device plugged in. Your cell phone charger, your blender, your toaster -- they all draw energy from the wall even when you're not using them.

The solution is to just unplug them when you're done. This might be a pain for appliances with digital clocks, but other than your coffee maker do you actually use them? Unplug them and save those pennies. Unplug enough gadgets and the savings will add up to a few dollars per month.

About Joe Pawlikowski: Joe Pawlikowski is a recent homowner who has experienced bill shock. He writes for a living, covering technology topics at his mobile blog MobileMoo.com.

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