One of our co-op members recently attended the Park Forest Fire Department event which brings awareness to fire prevention. When she was there, she met with some of the utility companies who hosted information booths. She shared with us that they were full of useful and simple tips on making your home as energy efficient as possible. We thought this community education was wonderful and decided to keep it going!
Along with this co-op member's ideas, we searched and found tons more of helpful tips on saving energy, which in turn, saves you money! Then, we compiled a list of our favorites so you can start saving money on your bill too!
Here we go...
WASH CLOTHES IN COLD WATER
This one is as easy as it sounds and actually helps to preserve the bright colors in your clothes along with saving on your bill. I started doing this one about 6 months ago when I read that the average US home washes about 400 loads of laundry per year. I then read on www.Energystar.gov that, "Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer."
Those facts really stuck with me. Why was I washing on high heat? Was it only because I remember my mother preaching that hot water cleans better? Well, maybe hot water makes a difference in dishwater, but not in your clothes washer. It was time to consider the switch. I could only imagine the savings to the environment by reducing our home's carbon footprint as well as saving us money. Now, I delight in using the cold water cycle, saving roughly 15% off our gas bill every month!
HANG DRY YOUR CLOTHES
This doesn't always work, depending on your space, but thankfully our cooperatives have huge basements with plenty of space to install a hanging bar for drying clothes. You can also purchase a portable clothes rack at your local department store for pretty cheap if you are not comfortable with installing a clothes rack.
Hanging your clothes saves on the gas and electricity required to dry them in the dryer. It also keeps fabrics looking their best for longer. So this trick actually saves you money up front on your utility bills and in the end by not having to purchase new clothes as often. Double bonus!
OPEN ALL YOUR VENTS
It's a misnomer that closing vents in one room (unless completely closed off from the rest of the house) will help save on the cost of heat/AC. By opening all vents in the home, you help circulate the air throughout your home which places less strain on your blower.
Another tip to circulate the air is to utilize ceiling fans correctly. In the summer, make sure your fan is set to spin counter-clockwise; in the cooler months, set it to spin clockwise. This pushes the heat down or draws the heat up, depending on the setting. Both of which help regulate the room's temperature, thus saving you heating/cooling costs.
CHANGE FURNACE FILTERS FREQUENTLY
Depending on the filter you purchase, the average furnace filter lasts only 1-3 months. A clean filter is essential for proper airflow. Free-flowing air means your furnace doesn't have to work as hard to push the air throughout the house. This can save you money.
While this sounds so simple (and cheap...filters run only $1-5) it is really easy to forget about it. As the saying goes...out of sight, out of mind. So a great way to stay on schedule, and save on utility costs is to set a monthly reminder on your phone or calendar. Another tip is to purchase 6 months worth of filters up front. Then, when your reminder comes due, you only have to walk to the basement and get it done, instead of driving to the hardware store.
SWITCH TO ENERGY EFFICIENT FIXTURES
I'll admit it, I did not make the switch to energy efficient fixtures for fear of poor water pressure or under-performing lights. Boy was I wrong! Nicor (our housing cooperatives gas provider) currently has a program that allows to you get free shower heads, faucet spigots, thermostats and more. I finally took them up on their offer and was so impressed by their performance. The shower sprays wonderfully and the faucets actually have better water pressure than they did before.
I feel better conserving water AND money! If you haven't yet taken advantage, and are looking to save money on your utilities, visit their website to order your free kit today.
WEATHER-STRIP YOUR DOORS
Weather-stripping helps keep the cold air outside in the winter and the cold air inside in the summer. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, even for the non-handyman/woman types. These little strips of plastic can virtually eliminate those cold drafts that can skyrocket your gas bill.
Another option is to purchase a cloth door strips that you simply rest near the bottom of your door. Some are filled with sand and some with cotton fill. They do a better job than not having anything at all, but they are also not as effective as an official weather-strip.
Energy.gov has a great article on the energy efficiency and differences between all kinds of light bulbs. I would try to explain...but they really did it best.
When talking about energy efficiency, I rarely hear people discussing their use of appliances in the kitchen. And yet, I can't help but think that I'm wasting gas every time I cook garlic bread. I turn the heat up to 450 degrees, pop the bread in for 5 minutes and bam, the bread is done. Now I have an extremely hot oven and nothing else to cook. Waste.
Here's an idea...cook strategically! Some can make once a month cooking work (I say they're crazy!). Some cook once per week and make it work for their family. What they do is cook everything they need for that week's menu all in one day. This makes perfect sense as the oven's already hot, you've already got the cutting board out and after a glass of wine, I'm sure you're in the cooking mood.
This method helps save money on your utility bill by reducing the times you heat up your oven, use your stove and run your dishwasher. It also saves time throughout your busy work week AND saves a ton on your food budget! Now you can buy in bulk, cook at once and have a week's worth of meals already planned out. Genius!
I hope you've enjoyed our tips. When you give them a try, let us know. Visit us on facebook and post your results!