It's no secret that sealing up old windows with plastic helps to keep heating costs down during the winter, but did you know you could take steps now to save on utility costs throughout the year?!
The following tips offer just a few ways you can make your home more energy efficient. Check your local electricity company or gas company website as well. They might even have a free energy efficiency kit to send you to help make the changes.
STRATEGIZE YOUR COOKING
Many don't consider how much energy is used up while cooking, especially if your using all your appliances. Instead of heating up the oven for a few pieces of toasted garlic bread, consider using your toaster oven instead. Instead of steaming a vegetable on the stove, while roasting meat in the oven, try roasting the vegetable and meat in the same oven. This reduces the amount of gas or electricity used and will certainly help keep utility costs down.
Another great idea is to prep, plan and cook your entire week's menu in just one day! Of course, when the day comes to eat, you'll have to use some sort of energy to re-heat, but the savings will certainly outbeat the expense. Not only will this strategy likely save money by preventing a last minute stop at the drive-through (which can really drain the budget), but it also uses the same philosophy as above: one oven, cooking multiple dishes at a time, ultimately saves.
DON'T OVERWORK THE THERMOSTAT
Whether the winter or summer, it's always best to adjust your thermostat to a comfortable setting and leave it alone. Dropping or increasing the temperatures drastically based on your "needs" puts strain on your HVAC system and can freeze your air conditioner. A great rule of thumb is to set the temperature in the winter to 70° and in the summer to 75° F. This creates a comfortable atmosphere with room to use your clothing as additional temperature support. If it's winter, bundle up in warm clothing! If it's summer, dress in thin layers. Regulating your thermostat and body temp in this way will save you big time!
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
Energy efficient light bulbs, water faucets, shower heads and more can really stack up the savings both in energy and costs, plus it's an easy fix even for the not-so-handy man. Another tip is to replace your appliances with energy efficient ones. While it may not be feasible to switch all your appliances out to new ones at once, make the commitment now to purchase the energy efficient kind later when your current appliances need replacing.
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. Energystar.gov indicates that, "Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer." Considering that the average American washes about 400 loads per year, you can begin to see the benefit of turning that dial to cold water instead of hot or warm. The great thing is that many laundry detergents these days now offer a cold wash soap specifically designed to dissolve and wash clothes effectively even in cold water. No risk, all reward!
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!
Do you have energy saving tips to share that we haven't listed above? Great! Contact us to let us know and we'd be happy to feature them on our Facebook page. When you're ready to take advantage of a unique housing opportunity, give us a call to arrange for a home showing.