21 Tips for Decreasing Your Energy Bill

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Published on March 3rd, 2011  |  Discuss This Article  

I’ve recently been blogging about my experience getting an energy audit for my home and how we responded to what the auditors found. Many people think that addressing energy problems in your home is expensive. What I learned during this process is that there are lots of things you can do that are easy on the wallet; and several things that don’t cost a dime.

Check out my list of 21 ways to decrease your energy bill and your impact on the environment:

7 Free Ways: No Excuses Here!

  1. Keep your thermostat at 68 in winter and 78 in summer (and dress appropriately for the weather of the season).
  2. Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees: each 10 degree reduction saves you up to 5% on your bill.
  3. Avoid using the ‘heated dry’ cycle on the dishwasher – just let them air dry
  4. Conserve water – wash clothes on cold and shorten your shower: this reduces your bill and your impact on a very limited resource.
  5. Line dry your laundry when the weather is nice.
  6. Use a ceiling fan in the summer and wear an extra layer in the winter.
  7. Unplug your electronics when not in use: anything with a LED light glowing (e.g., cell phone charger, computer monitor, etc.) is drawing power even if it is not ‘on.’

7 Cheap Ways: Small Investment, Big Payoff

  1. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent. (Cost: each bulb can save up to $40 over lifetime of bulb and lasts 10 times longer)
  2. Make sure all your windows and doors are well sealed with caulking or or weatherstripping. (Cost: Less than $100)
  3. Make sure your plumbing and wiring penetrations are sealed. (Cost: Less than $50)
  4. Get your heating and cooling system serviced annually to maintain and monitor efficiency. (Cost: The average service call is $75)
  5. Insulate your hot water heater (Cost: $10, savings up to 9% on your water heating bill)
  6. Insulate your air compressor and hot water piping. (Cost: Less than $50)
  7. Change your air filters at least every 3 months. (Cost: $2.50 per filter)

7 Tips for the Big Ticket Items:

  1. Follow Department of Energy guidelines on insulation – check out the map.
  2. When replacing your roof, choose the lightest roof color you can handle aesthetically – this will keep the house 10-15% cooler in the summer.
  3. Get your ducts inspected and repair any holes or faulty connections.
  4. Because hot water heaters are the second largest energy user – it is important to explore your options when replacing a worn-out unit.
  5. When you need to replace an appliance, make sure it has an Energy Star rating.
  6. When replacing windows, be sure the windows are Energy Star certified.
  7. When replacing an HVAC system, make sure you purchase Energy Star certified equipment and that you buy compatible heating and cooling systems.

For more information on tackling the energy hogs in your home, check out the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s Consumer Resources.

Read parts one and two of this series.

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8 Responses to “21 Tips for Decreasing Your Energy Bill”

  1. ckhan says:

    Just wanted to let you know that the “68 in winter, 78 in summer” does have acceptions. I have Multiple Sclerosis and end up losing vsion, ability to walk & talk, and cognative loss when exposed to rooms over 70ish for an exposed period of time. Sadly many medicals conditions where the body can’t regulate heat have to keep temps down. On the flip side, in the winter I never set the thermostat above 64. I just wanted to let you know that there are populations to which the “no excuse” rules you list just don’t work.

  2. Paul McGovern says:

    According to you,…if I set my HWH to 0 degrees, i save 60% on my bill!!! what bill? total electric? heating & cooling? lighting? simplicity sux & does nothing for the movement!

  3. Marjorie Wells says:

    It is also difficult for the elderly to live in temperatures much lower than 70, as there is danger of hypothermia. For them to live in heat above 75 can be hard on their circulatory and respiratory systems.

  4. el chupacabra says:

    78 degrees in the summer? You obviously don’t live in the South. Of course, I also keep the thermostat set to between 62-64 during the winter.

    And where are you finding air filters for $2.50? Buy a decent one and they will last longer than 3 months. You just need to clean it once a month.

  5. Stephanie Wear says:

    Great to see your comments here. The temperature guidelines are just that – guidelines – everyone has to do what they are most comfortable with. For example, when I had a newborn in the winter, we kept the temperature higher than usual. I do live in the south – in the middle of Florida and it gets plenty hot here …but we do keep the temp around 77 or 78. To stay comfortable, we keep fans on and shades drawn on the sunny side of the house. I find that as long as you don’t have a health issue that requires a certain temperature range – that your body quickly adjusts. I lived for four years in the Caribbean with no air conditioning…not at work, at home, or in my car. Whenever I came to Miami for meetings…I froze in the AC! So – it is all about your own personal comfort and doing what makes most sense to you.

  6. Good post by authour on 21 Tips for Decreasing Your Energy Bill

  7. A says:

    Man, I sure would love if I could set my thermostat to 78 in the summer… Mine is set at 81, and it struggles to keep it that low, even though the A/C is in perfect working order. Maybe the fact that 81 is 25 degrees lower than the outside temp is what’s doing it. Setting it at a comfortable 75 would require it to run 95% of the time, which is completely unacceptable.

  8. Going Green says:

    Just a quick note on the air filters, please use a reusable air filter than can be cleaned, it will cut down on landfill waste.

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