More than half the energy you use in your home goes toward heating and cooling, according to Energy Star, the joint project of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. You can save much of the energy wasted every hour in your home with proper care of your HVAC equipment, windows, doors and simple conservation practices.
Small steps in energy conservation produce large annual utility bill savings.
Programmable Thermostats (Big Savings)
Lowering your thermostat in the winter and raising it during the summer saves energy. For every one degree you lower your thermostat in the 60 to 70 degree range, you’ll save as much as 5 percent on your heating bill, according to the Consumer Energy Center of the California Energy Commission. Changing heating and air by 10 to 15 degrees for an eight-hour period, such as when you sleep, can cut your electric bill by as much as 15 percent each year, according to the USDE. Consider a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home, while you’re gone or sleeping. When you’re gone during the day, don’t turn your heat all the way off in the winter; re-heating ice-cold sheet rock makes your furnace work harder.
Reduce Hot Water Use
Keep your water heater setting no higher than 120 degrees and insulate any exposed pipe leading from the heater to the wall. Take shorter showers and at lower temperatures. Use low-flow showerheads and faucets to reduce water use. An energy-efficient dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand, if you wash dishes more than once a day. Wash clothes in cold water, unless the garment label specifically states otherwise.
Keep Registers & Filters Clean
Cleaning the air filters throughout your house on a regular basis will make your heating and cooling units work more efficiently. Regularly changing or cleaning your air filters can reduce energy consumption by as much as 15 percent. Energy Star recommends changing filters every three months. Don’t block registers with furniture or drapery.
Seal Windows & Doors
During the winter months, open drapes and curtains during the day on the south side of your home or apartment to allow sunlight to heat rooms. Close drapes at night to keep cold air trapped near walls, and during warm months to lower the heat caused by sunlight. Install energy-efficient doors and windows to prevent cold air from coming in during the winter and air conditioning from leaking out during warm months. Energy-efficient doors and windows will pay for themselves during their life. If you can’t afford new windows, consider sealing windows you don’t open frequently with sealing tape.
Replace Old Equipment
Many utility companies and government agencies offer rebates and other incentives to consumers who replace old heating and cooling equipment, including water heaters. Not only will you get new equipment at a discount, but you’ll reduce your monthly energy bills and increase the value of your home.