Rising fuel costs and a suspect economy has forced many homeowners to look for ways to cut costs around the house. Conserving energy is one way to do just that. And in addition to saving money, conserving energy also helps save the planet.
Though preserving energy around the house might sound difficult, it’s actually quite easy, and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to conserve. The following are a few ways to conserve energy around the house and help your bottom line and the planet at the same time.
• Cool it with the hot water. Heating water for the home accounts for a significant percentage of your monthly utility bill. But many homeowners might not know just how simple it can be to reduce the costs of heating the water. You can trim between 3 to 5 percent off your utility bill for every 10 degrees you dial down the thermostat on your water heater. A water heater set in the range of 130 degrees won’t require as much energy to heat and hold water as one set around 140 degress or above, and a setting of 130 degrees is enough to prevent bacteria from growing within the tank and still provide water that’s hot enough for a shower or bath.
A water heater set around 130 degrees might also extend the life of the tank. That’s because chemical reactions speed up in tanks that are hotter, accelerating the buildup of rust within the tank.
• Install a digital thermostat. A digital thermostat makes it easy for homeowners to automatically turn down their thermostats during times of the day when no one is home. The thermostats can be programmed to turn up the heat shortly before you typically arrive home, so you won’t be forced to sit in a cold house when you get home, nor will you be forced to pay to heat a home while no one is there. The thermostat can also be set in the summer to allow the temperature in the home to rise without automatically triggering the air conditioning.
When shopping for a digital thermostat, be sure to purchase one that is compatible with your HVAC system. Otherwise, the thermostat might not work properly.
• Turn off the lights (and change the bulbs). Perhaps the simplest way to conserve energy around the house is to turn off the lights in empty rooms. It’s easy for all residents of a home to turn on a light when entering a room, only to leave that room but keep the lights on. But electricity used for lighting can constitute as much as 10 percent of a monthly utility bill. How much of that electricity is being used to illuminate empty rooms? Get in the habit of turning lights off whenever you leave a room. Though the savings here might not be substantial, turning off the lights will help conserve energy.
In addition to turning off the lights, be sure to use compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, instead of traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs consume less energy, don’t give off nearly as much heat as incandescent bulbs and can last as long as 10,000 hours, which is roughly 10 times as long as the best incandescent bulb.
• Make use of nature. Homeowners can also employ their landscape to help conserve energy around the house. A strategically planted tree, for example, can shade a room that is exposed to the sun throughout the day. That shade can make it cooler inside the home, allowing residents to stay cool inside without having to rely too heavily on their air conditioning unit. During the winter months, open the curtains during the day to allow sunshine in, naturally adding a few degrees to the home so you won’t have to crank the temperature on the thermostat.
Homeowners hoping to conserve energy around the house can do so in a number of ways without having to sacrifice comfort or luxury.
Opening the blinds or curtains to allow natural light in is one way to conserve energy around the house.