Reducing energy consumption in your home year-round not only lowers your energy bill, but it also reduces your home's carbon footprint. There are many different ways to conserve energy in your home, whether you're looking to make extensive home improvements or minor adjustments, here are seven ways to save on your utility bills while protecting the environment.
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Air Dry Dishes and Laundry
Skip your dishwasher's drying cycle and let your dishes air dry by opening the door after the rinse cycle. Air drying can cut dishwasher energy use by 15 to 50 percent depending on your machine. Do the same thing with your clothes and opt for hang drying clothes, especially in the summer.
Use Power Strips
Plug your appliances and electronics into power strips that allow you to switch off power when your technology is not in use or when you leave your home for an extended period of time. This will reduce your standby power load, or the energy used by electronics when they're plugged in but not in use, which accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use and saves the average U.S. household $100 per year.
Invest in ENERGY STAR-Certified Appliances
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ensures products with the ENERGY STAR certificate deliver energy efficiency that save consumers money while protecting the environment. Use ENERGY STAR-certified light bulbs, appliances, heating and cooling technology, water heaters and more. Even stream media with ENERGY STAR-certified electronics and use 25 percent less energy while doing so.
Work Your Curtains and Blinds
In the summer, keep your home cooler with blinds or shades that keep out the sun and reduce your need for air conditioning. In the winter, open curtains facing the sun to naturally warm up your home and reduce your use of lighting during the day. Close curtains and blinds at night to help your home retain more heat and reduce your need for a heater.
Clean Those Filters
Cleaning and replacing filters throughout your home increases appliance efficiency and reduces energy consumption. Filters in your furnace or A/C unit should be cleaned or replaced every three months, while the filter in your dryer should be cleaned after every use. Consider high-quality air filters that can further reduce energy consumption and return larger economic benefits for your home.
Maximize Your Home's Insulation
Insulating and sealing your air ducts will reduce air loss through leaks and overall energy consumption for your home heating/cooling system, says Energy.gov. If upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified water heater is not an option, add an insulating blanket to an older water heater to reduce standby heat loss by 25 to 45 percent and save 4 to 9 percent in water heating costs, energy company Constellation reports. You should also insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss and to slightly raise water temperatures compared to uninsulated pipes.
Keep It Cool When You Can
Keeping it cool when you can will reduce energy consumption from a heating system or water heater. Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your energy bill by turning back your thermostat when you're not home. Skip the rinse hold setting on your dishwasher to eliminate the use of 3-7 additional gallons of water per cycle, says Constellation. Wash your clothes with cold water when possible and save upwards of $60 a year.
Energy saving in your home can be as simple as unplugging electronics when not in use to upgrading to ENERGY STAR-certified appliances. No matter what changes you make, conserving energy in your home is simple and will lower your monthly electricity bills while doing your part to fight climate change.
Natalie Posdaljian is a naturalist and environmental advocate who prefers to be outdoors whenever possible. When she's not soaking up Vitamin D, you'll find her planning her next adventure, reading or on her yoga mat.