This week’s blog post in our “Financial Planter” series is written by Deacon Hayes, a Financial Services Professional.*
There are many steps you can take at home to help you save money while making your home more energy efficient. Between winter heating costs, summer cooling costs, lighting and water usage, it’s clear to see how these expenses can quickly drain your budget.
By following these tips, you can save energy and money at home.
Switch to LED Bulbs
If you’re still lighting your home with incandescent bulbs, you’re missing out on some serious energy savings – and money savings. According to Energy.gov, LED (light emitting diode) bulbs typically use about 20-25% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can save a typical household about $75 each year if you were to switch five of your most used bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR label.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
There’s no sense in paying to heat or cool your house for maximum comfort when you’re not home or when everyone is asleep, yet most people want to return home after a long day to a comfortable house. The solution? A programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set home temperature schedules automatically based on when you will be home and/or up and active.
You can keep the heat turned down in the winter (or keep the air turned down in the summer) until about an hour before you get home, making sure that you arrive home to a comfortable house without having to pay for heating or cooling all day when you’re not home. Bonus: Programmable thermostats are relatively easy to have installed by a certified technician.
Seal Windows and Doors
Most heating and cooling leaks occur through windows and doors. By sealing, caulking and weather-stripping your windows and doors properly, and by using window insulator kits (the plastic sheeting made to cover windows), you can minimize the amount of heat or air that escapes through windows and doors.
Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater
Setting your water heater temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or 49 degrees Celsius, the recommended temperature from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Department of Energy) will keep your water hot enough to kill most harmful bacteria while ensuring protection from hot water scalding.
Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater will also save you money on your energy bill. Energy experts say you can save up to 10% on your energy bill just with this one adjustment alone. You’ll likely have to adjust your water heater temperature manually however, since most manufacturers automatically set water heater temperatures to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius).
Install Low Flow Shower Heads
Today’s low-flow shower heads are much different than the low-flow shower heads of yesteryear. New water flow technology means you can have an energy-saving (and money-saving) shower head and a comfortable shower at the same time.
Get Energy-Saving Appliances
As your old appliances wear out, consider replacing them with energy-saving appliances. Appliances that have the ENERGY STAR label meet strict energy criteria that will help you use less energy, save money on energy costs, and may be eligible for federal tax credits, as well. Customer service experts at your local appliance store can help you understand the ENERGY STAR label and choose the type of appliance that’s best for you.
Have Your Heating and Cooling System Regularly Maintained
A consistent annual check-up of your heating and cooling system allows professional technicians to keep the system running at optimal levels and helps diagnose potential energy-draining problems early. Trained professionals can clean the system, replace filters and assess the performance of your furnace system - usually in less than an hour’s time. HGTV offers some additional and easy tips on how you can care for your heating and cooling systems. Check with local plumbing and heating companies to see if they offer discounts during the year on annual system checkups to get the best price.
Implement Small Energy-Saving Practices
There are other steps you can take to save money and energy that will together add up to a big difference in your energy usage, such as:
- Cooking with a slow cooker instead of using the oven.
- Hang drying your clothes instead of using the dryer.
- Air drying your dishes and avoiding the dishwasher’s dry cycle.
- Only washing full loads of dishes and clothing.
- Making sure lights and appliances are turned off/unplugged when not in use.
- Closing air/heating vents in rooms you don’t use.
Get an Energy Audit
- Many energy companies offer free energy audits to help their customers define steps to make their home more energy efficient. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) provides a directory of certified energy raters and auditors near you.
By implementing these and other tips that will help your home run at maximum energy efficiency, you can save cash and help improve the environment all at the same time.
*All content provided in this blog is supplied by Deacon Hayes and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
Image credit: iStockphoto