When thinking about ways to save energy at home, it’s a mistake to believe that the only way to do that is by paying for expensive renovations or appliances. The truth is that there are ways of having an eco friendly home and saving a large amount of energy that cost very little or even nothing. Here are six ways you can save energy for less than $50.
1) Energy saving light bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s) are an increasingly popular lighting option for people looking to save a lot of energy. Each bulb can save you up to 70% of the energy used by a regular incandescent light bulb. That adds up fast over time, especially if magnified by having multiple CFL’s anywhere in your house that needs a good amount of light. Prices on these bulbs have also gone down drastically, making them an even better value for your dollar–especially because they last many times longer. In future years you can expect to see other technologies hit the market, like LED light bulbs, but it will probably be a while before they get cheap enough to make them worthwhile. For now, CFL’s are definitely the way to go. Cost: can be found for $1.50 or less per bulb.
2) Weatherstripping. While upgrading an old boiler or air conditioning unit will certainly save you a lot of energy, don’t even bother doing that until you think about weatherstripping first. If you don’t plug up every hole in the house through which heat or cooled air is escaping then you are simply throwing money down the drain. Before planning for that appliance upgrade, grab some weatherstripping materials at your hardware store and stuff them into every crack that’s causing your interior home air to escape. Cost: less than $50 for just about any piece of weatherstripping material you would need.
3) Raise and lower your home’s temperature. Did you know you could save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bill by raising and lowering the temperature (in summer and winter respectively) by ten degrees during “non peak” hours? There is no need to keep the engines running at full blast while you’re sleeping or are busy at work. Why not give them a rest and save energy while you’re at it? You’ll suffer a minimum of discomfort, and need only to remember to re-set the thermostat on your way to work or bed (unless you have a programmable thermostat, which helps a lot.) Cost: $0.
4) Reduce hot water usage. Your hot water heater uses a good deal of energy, depending on its setting. Turning down the setting to about 110 degrees helps a good deal. So does being mindful about how you use hot water, especially while showering and while washing clothes. When doing laundry, it’s easy to use a washing cycle that uses entirely cold water, and there are special detergents available that are specifically for washing in cold water. The less hot water you use, the more you save–while the savings can’t be quantified, bear in mind that large amounts of water are heated and used during these activities. Cost: $0.
5) Turn off the computer. A typical computer power supply uses about 300 watts of energy, or the equivalent of five 60-watt bulbs. Many people let their computers run day and night. What for? Turn off the computer and save energy instead. If you don’t want to power it down completely, then set it to “sleep” mode–which turns off the computer except for a tiny bit of power to the computer’s memory to keep track of where you were when you return. In Windows you can set set sleep mode manually or set it up to happen automatically after a certain number of minutes of inactivity. Cost: $0.
6) Try a programmable timer switch. A programmable timer switch (like the previously discussed Leviton 6124h Decora) takes the place of an ordinary light switch, but allows you to digitally program the times you want that light or associated appliance to turn on and off. You no longer have to worry about forgetting to leave the lights on at night, simply let the programmed switch do it for you. Keeping the lights turned off when you don’t need them saves you a good deal of money. Cost: $49 for the Leviton 6124h, which lets you program “on” and “off” settings in thirty-minute increments.
The bottom line is that you do not need to install fancy upgrades to get a big bang for your buck or have an environmentally friendly home. These small upgrades add up quickly to save you a good deal of money without costing a lot to put in place.