Whether you own an older home or live in a newly constructed home, assessing your energy usage can help you save money on your utility bill year round. One of the largest power users in most homes is your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system, which means higher power usage during summer and winter. Reducing the amount of energy your HVAC system uses is the best way to save money on utilities all year round, but we’ve listed out a variety of other energy saving ideas too!
Try energy saving ideas for summer
- Cook more with the microwave in the summer – It doesn’t use as much heat as the stovetop and oven do.
- Cook with the HVAC off – If you do use the oven in the summer, try turning off your HVAC until you finish baking or cooking and turn the HVAC back on once your oven cools down.
Make sure your ceiling fans turn the right way – A ceiling fan can either turn clockwise or counter-clockwise, but make sure that your ceiling fan turns counter-clockwise in the summer. This airflow won’t lower room temperatures, but it will make you feel cooler without turning up your air conditioner.
- Raise the temperature when you’re away – When you leave the house, turn your thermostat to a higher temperature. You can also use a smart thermostat to schedule temperature changes strategically throughout your day.
2. Try energy saving ideas for winter
- Turn your house into a greenhouse– Trap heat from the sun in your house by leaving curtains open on the south-facing side of your home and closing curtains that face north.
- Close vents – If there are rooms in your house you don’t use much in the winter, close the air vents feeding heat to those rooms.
- Add weather stripping and draft guards – Reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home by blocking gaps around doors and windows with weather stripping or draft guards.
Lower your temperature when you’re away – Just as in the summer, adjusting your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter while you’re away from your house, such as a temperature between 62-66° F, can help you save on energy.
3. Clean to save money
- Dump the dirt from your water heater – Draining a gallon of water from your water heater annually can help remove settled sediment and improve your water heater efficiency.
Change your air filter every 30-90 days – Putting in a fresh air filter on a regular schedule not only helps your HVAC unit perform more efficiently and save you as much as $45 each year—it helps extend the life of your HVAC system which saves you more money in the long-run.
- Clean the coils on your refrigerator – Vacuum up dust and dirt from the coils on the back of your fridge to increase its efficiency and reduce its daily energy usage. Plus, cleaning your coils helps reduce the likelihood of refrigerator breakdowns.
4. Perform or get an energy audit
Getting a professional home energy audit is helpful and gives you the knowledge that you need to make smart decisions about updating your appliances, windows, home structure and more. You can also complete your own home evaluation to evaluate your insulation, evaluate how well your home is sealed, see if older appliances could be updated and more.
5. Use your energy audit to guide home improvement
Just having the results of your energy audit aren’t enough to start saving you money; it’s all about what you do with the results of your energy assessment! You can use the following strategies to get the most out of your home energy assessment.
Start with the quick fixes
Make easy updates first because they’ll motivate you to keep improving your home for additional utility savings. Some easy updates to start with, depending on the results of your energy assessment, may include:
- A couple hours of re-caulking corners and seams that leak air
- Throwing an extra layer of insulation on top of your attic insulation
- Add electrical tape or duct tape to leaking faucets or hoses
- Add a brick to your toilet tank so it will fill up with less water
- Changing your HVAC system air filter to make your HVAC system more efficient
- Create a morning unplug routine to eliminate phantom electricity usage
Then tackle the big projects
If your energy audit finds major energy leaks such as roofing problems, wall insulation, electrical hazards or a number of other potential fixes, you can find a professional who can address these issues. Inviting in a professional to repair other major issues could cost a lot, but can save you money in the long-run and even improve the safety of your home.
6. Evaluate your appliances
- Unplug more often – Even if you’re not using that microwave, printer or television, your appliances use electricity as long as they’re plugged in. Unplug those vampire electricity suckers and save up to 10% on your electricity statement.
Use power strips – Don’t want to unplug those appliances and devices? Plug them into power strips and simply switch the strip on or off to reduce the amount of energy your appliances use.
- Go for ENERGY STAR® updates – If you have old, outdated appliances such as an oven, dryer, washer or fridge, an ENERGY STAR certified replacement could help you save on electricity, natural gas and more.
You can use these summer and winter energy saving tips and other smart energy ideas to reduce the amount of electricity and natural gas you use at home all year long. Taking steps each day to make your home more energy efficient keeps more money in your wallet and makes for greener living throughout the whole year.
Last updated 10/4/18.