Every year the average American family spends at least $2200 on their home utility bills. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that households could cut their energy bills by as much as 25% by using a “whole-house” approach to energy saving. Here are five tips to consider as you look at ways to save energy. Some tips are very easy, others more of an investment, but all can help you cut costs of your energy bills.
DIY Energy Evaluations
Understanding where you are spending the most on your energy bill can go a long way toward reducing it. Do a room-by-room evaluation of your energy needs. Check that all rooms are properly insulated (don’t forget the garage and attic). Look at windows and doors to see if air is leaking through gaps. Take time to check all your appliances, heating and cooling systems and your water heater to make sure everything is in working order and well maintained.
Low and No-Cost Changes
You can start cutting the costs of energy bills today with some very simple low and no cost changes. Be sure to turn off lights and unplug any items not in use when leaving a room. In the family room or any bedrooms with a television and other home entertainment, plug all those devices into one power strip. It makes it very simple to turn off everything when not in use.
Showers and baths can affect your energy bills, especially depending on the size of your family. Opt for showers over baths, be sure not to spend too much in the shower and reduce your water heater temperature to 120 degrees. Wait until you have a full load of dishes or laundry to wash before running those machines. Save even more by air drying those items instead.
And don’t forget about your light bulbs. If you still aren’t using LED bulbs, it is time to switch. LED bulbs utilize 25 to 80% less energy than the traditional ones. Just replacing the old bulbs with LED bulbs can save you $75 a year.
Heating and Cooling
Did you know that almost half of the average energy utility bill is spent on heating and cooling the house? The first step in cutting that bill is simple. Lower your thermostat as low as comfortably possible in the colder months, and raise it as high as comfortably possible during the warmer months. Maintain these systems regularly to keep them running efficiently. Clean and change the filters in your furnace and air conditioner once a month. When it is time to upgrade, be sure you invest in as energy efficient a system as you can afford. Curtains can help reduce energy bills as well. Draw curtains during the day in the summer to reduce heat from the sun. In the wintertime, close drapes at night to block the chill from old windows.
Energy Star® Products
Created by the EPA 25 years ago, the Energy Star® Program helps businesses and consumers identify the most energy-efficient products available today. For a product to be Energy Star® certified, it undergoes testing and evaluation from a third-party EPA-recognized laboratory. Purchasing an energy-efficient product with the Energy Star® label can reduce your energy bill. It can also entitle you to occasional rebates offered by Energy Star® partner companies. Your local gas and electric companies might also offer rebates to households that upgrade older models of water heaters and other appliances. Federal Tax Credits could be available for replacing inefficient appliances too. You can find out more about the Energy Star® Program here.
Energy Bills Rate Comparison Shopping
Energy rates can vary widely. The amount of energy your household is using, and when that usage is occurring, determines the rates. Some power companies offer discounted rates for a set amount of energy to encourage conservation. If your usage falls within the allotted amount, you will enjoy that reduced rate. But be warned that if you go over that amount, the rate will increase.
Another option is to look into off-hour plans to reduce your energy plans. Some power companies offer reduced rates for households that use most of their power during the off-peak hours of the day. If you can limit your energy usage during peak hours, this is a great option.
For households that already are conserving energy well but are still want to cut their energy bill, it might be time to look into solar power for your home. In 2016, Congress extended the solar tax credit, also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for five years. This tax credit allows you to deduct 30% of your solar power system costs off your federal taxes until 2019. From 2019 to 2022, the tax credit will still be available but will not be as generous.
Using these tips will not only help cut your energy bills but make your home more comfortable too, all while helping the environment.