You don’t have to sacrifice comfort in your home to save a little extra on your electricity and water bills.
#1: Install a Smart Thermostat
“Installing a smart thermostat, such as a Nest, can save homeowners 10% to 12% on their heating bills,” according to Josh McCormick, VP of Operations at Mr. Electric. Similar to a programmable thermostat, a smart thermostat can warm or cool your home depending on the time of day. But a smart thermostat comes with even more user-friendly features, such as smartphone and smart home compatibility, motion detection and even reminders to change your air filters.
#2: Use Automatic Daylight Shutoff
Never forget to shut off your outdoor lights again. “Light sensing controls automatically turn off the fixtures at dawn,” McCormick says. “This way, you save energy without having to set your alarm early to manually turn of the lights when the sun comes up.” An alternative to this is a timer. “Set it so the lights are only on when it’s dark out,” he says.
#3: Use Portable Heaters Sparingly
When the temperature dips, many people turn to portable heaters and strip heaters. “However, they are among the highest sources of electricity demand during periods of extreme cold, straining your wallet and the electrical grid,” McCormick says. He recommends making sure that your home is air-tight and properly insulated, and then suggests that you dress warmly. “Heat only occupied rooms with a portable heater in combination with lowering your thermostat temperature to avoid heating unoccupied spaces.”
#4: Consider Motion Sensors
“If you intend to install some lights purely for security purposes, motion sensors are a great option,” McCormick says. “Most of the time they remain off, adding nothing to your electricity bill.” The fixture only comes on if someone approaches your driveway, back door, or wherever the motion sensor light is installed.
#5: Light It Up With LED Bulbs
“LED lights are praised for their low energy consumption, impressive durability and high performance in cold environments,” McCormick says. “You can use these bulbs in exposed fixtures without fearing problems with rain and snow.”
#6: Wrap Your Water Heater
“If you have an old hot water tank, wrapping it in an insulated blanket can save around $20 on gas and $50 on electric heaters annually,” McCormick says. According to Energy.gov, an older heater with an insulation R-value of less than 24 could greatly benefit from insulation. Water heater blankets and pre-cut jackets usually cost around $20. If you can’t find the R-value, Energy.gov recommends a simple test: touch the water heater, and if it’s warm, you need to insulate it.
#7: Keep Your Dryer Vent Clean
“A clogged dryer vent makes a dryer work much harder than it needs to,” according to Jason Kapica, president of Dryer Vent Wizard. “A clothes dryer needs adequate airflow through the vent to properly dry clothes.” And when it has to work harder, it uses more energy. “Also, make sure to clean the lint screen after every dry cycle, since this will help the dryer get adequate airflow and help prevent excess lint build-up in the vent.”
#8: Use Code-Compliant Venting Materials
The type of dryer vent material you use can make a difference. “Plastic or foil accordion style venting traps lint in its rough interior,” Kapica explains. “Lint can easily build up in the grooves and result in a clogged vent.” Kapica also says it’s easy to crush these types of venting materials, which restricts airflow. “That causes the dryer to work inefficiently, waste energy, and create a fire hazard.”
He recommends a rigid metal venting with a smooth interior, which does not have grooves to trap lint. “It is also sturdier and less likely to crush, maintaining a safer and more efficient airflow.”
#9: Use Cold Water to Wash Your Clothes
“Water supplied to your home is naturally cold, and heating this water uses energy,” Kapica says. “In fact, an estimated 90 percent of the energy it takes to do a load of laundry is used to heat water used to wash clothes.” However, more advanced washing machines and laundry detergents help clean clothes and preserve colors just as well when washing with cold water.
#10: Wait Until You Have a Full Load of Laundry
“Don’t get carried away doing multiple loads of laundry when they could easily be combined into one,” Kapica advises. “It’s okay to let dirty clothes pile up until you can wash at least one full load.” He says you waste water when you do a lot of small loads. “In addition, if you have enough to do two full loads of laundry, you can take advantage of a dryer that is already hot from drying the first load,” Kapica says. “The dryer uses energy to heat up, so if you can throw a second load of laundry into the dryer immediately after the first load is done drying, you can save some energy and money.”
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