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We have more electronics than ever today, from cellphone chargers to set-top boxes to air fryers — the list goes on. On the plus side, some major energy efficiency improvements have been made, such as with LED lightbulbs. Nevertheless, having so many different appliances drawing power can lead to exorbitant energy costs if you aren’t careful.
The good news is that you can take some simple steps to keep your energy bill from going haywire. Consider these quick tips to lower your energy costs this spring.
Conduct an Energy Audit
Conducting your own energy audit is one of the most affordable ways to deal with home maintenance. An energy audit allows you to identify the areas of your home where there is energy loss. In addition, it will help you find potential areas of improvement that will lower your overall energy bill.
“A professional can review your HVAC system to ensure it is operating at optimal efficiency, looking for things like air duct leaks that may need to be plugged/repaired,” said Andrea Woroch, consumer and money-saving expert at AndreaWoroch.com. “Changing air filters regularly is also key to ensuring your a/c system runs smoothly.”
Weatherproof Your Home
Yes, we are coming up on spring, when temperatures tend to be milder. But it will be cold again before you know it, so now is the perfect time to fix windows that are letting cold air escape or an attic that isn’t properly insulated. Some of this is easy to DIY as there are several inexpensive items that can help, such as tension seals and door sweeps.
Service Your Heating and Cooling Systems
You probably know that during the hottest and coldest months, your heating and cooling systems are some of your home’s biggest energy consumers. But something you may not have considered is that servicing these systems can help cut energy costs. Tony Abate, vice president and chief technical officer at AtmosAir Solutions, said you can reduce energy costs this spring by having your HVAC system serviced.
Add Bipolar Ionization Tubes to Your Home’s HVAC System
Abate also suggested another solution for reducing HVAC energy costs, and that is to install bipolar ionization (BPI) tubes. “These devices help your air conditioning perform better, and by doing so, dramatically reduce your energy bills,” Abate said. The best part is that according to Abate, they consume very little power with a typical energy footprint of just 5 watts.
Unplug Unused Electronics
You may have heard that electronics can consume power even when not in use, so unplugging them can help lower your energy bill. “As many consumers do, leaving electronics and appliances plugged in throughout the day is wasting energy and increasing your bill unnecessarily,” Woroch said.
“These energy hogs continue drawing electricity even in the off mode which accounts for 10% of your home utility bill, as reported by the Department of Energy.”
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Newer thermostats might look like they are just fancy gadgets with a touchscreen, but using a programmable thermostat can save you money by optimizing your heating and cooling schedule. “To cut down on energy cost and increase the home’s comfort level, now is the perfect time to invest in a programmable thermostat,” said Mark Dawson, COO of One Hour Heating & Air.
As Dawson said, these thermostats can be programmed to turn off the cooling system when no one is home, reducing energy consumption. That can be a big benefit, especially with a properly insulated home.
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Opt For LED Lights
LED light bulbs were mentioned earlier and for good reason. The U.S. Department of Energy says the average household saves about $225 per year by switching to LED. They also last many times longer than incandescent bulbs, so you save money by not having to replace them nearly as often.
Clean Your Vents
You may not think about your vents very often, but they may waste energy if they get too dirty. “You can cool your home most effectively when there’s an unobstructed flow of air coming from your returns and vents,” Dawson said. “So to make sure nothing gets in your way, clean these vents routinely to remove dust and other debris that can cause the AC unit to run harder and longer.”
Optimize Your Water Heater
Your water heater is another big energy user, so making sure it is running optimally can save you a lot of money. Dawson points out that these appliances use a lot of energy because they are in use throughout the day as we bathe, do dishes and do laundry. However, he gave several tips to help your water heater use less energy:
- Set the thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Conserve hot water by taking shorter showers and using cold water for laundry
- Install an insulating jacket around your water heater’s tank and pipe insulation on accessible hot water lines throughout your home
- Flush your water heater at least twice per year and replace the anode rod as needed to maintain energy efficiency over the life of the unit
Reduce Your Refrigerator’s Energy Consumption
Like your water heater, you can also reduce your refrigerator’s energy consumption. Dawson points out that the best way to reduce that cost is by upgrading to a newer, energy-efficient model — but that will be more expensive in the short term.
If you don’t have the cash for that, he gave several tips, such as setting the refrigerator to no cooler than 36 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer to no colder than zero degrees Fahrenheit. You can also periodically clean vents and coils on the bottom and back of the refrigerator and replace door gaskets if they become loose, cracked or brittle.
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About the Author
Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking, credit cards, and real estate. His work has been featured on The Ladders, The Good Men Project, and Small Biz Daily. He also co-runs Modest Money and is a dog sitter and walker.