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11 ways you might not have thought of to save energy

Washington Energy | 04/01/2015 | Posted in Home energy audit

Some people don’t turn their heat on until the first snow hits in November. Others have been known to drape their freshly washed clothes on their furniture in the winter instead of putting them in the dryer.

These are just a couple of the strange things people do to conserve energy, though it’s certainly a laudable goal to try to save energy and lower their costs.

If you’re hoping to conserve energy around the house and save more money, you might be interested in knowing about some of the unique things people around the world are doing to conserve energy and keep more cash in their wallets.

 

1. Biking to work year-round

People who bike to work in sleet or shine may seem crazy, especially if their bike commute lasts more than 30 minutes. But the decision to bike daily and leave the car at home can save you as much as $1,000 a year. Plus, the reduction in car use will significantly shrink your carbon footprint, and you can enjoy the good health and fitness that comes with the exercise.

2. Updating appliances every few years

Maybe you’ve heard your grandmother say: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” It’s a good motto for many things, but when it comes to appliances, that may not be so true.

Every few years the EPA comes out with a new set of standards for Energy Star-rated appliances because as the technology continues to progress, appliances become ever more energy-efficient by the year. People who buy new appliances as they improve will continue to save, especially if they’re smart and sell the used appliance to help pay for the new one.

3. Covering windows with plastic

Have you ever visited someone’s house and noticed there’s plastic over their windows? It may not look very lovely, but it’s a pretty smart way to save energy, at least as a temporary fix.

Outside air can leak into your home through old window caulking, so you have to run your heat and air conditioning more constantly. The plastic helps to keep air outside where it belongs.

That being said, it should be treated only as a temporary solution. If there’s air coming in through your windows, you probably need new insulation, windows, caulking, or all three.

4. Requesting an energy audit

The word audit never sounds like good news, so if a friend tells you he’s having an energy audit done, you might think he’s crazy. Actually, an energy audit is a very smart move.

An energy auditor will examine your home to understand and diagnose your comfort, energy use and health issues. Things like rooms that are too cold or stale air and high utility costs. They perform testing of your house, insulation, structure, ventilation, air leakage, utility bills and more, seeing how your house uses and loses energy. Then they provide prioritized list of what you can do to change that.

5. Replacing all windows and doors

Windows and doors have a single purpose in the home, and they last forever, right? Wrong. Old windows and doors can let in so much air that they cause your energy use to skyrocket.

New windows and doors are among the best changes you can make to your home if you wish to improve its overall value. You’ll also see a nice investment return at an average of $300 per year on utilities for window replacements alone.

6. Moving lamps away from the thermostat

Has a friend ever suggested that you should move your television and lamps away from your room air conditioning unit or thermostat? Heat sources such as lamps, if placed near your thermostat (for central air) or AC unit. , can significantly increase the demand for air conditioning, which raises your energy waste. In the winter it can create the opposite effect, telling the thermostat that your house is already warmed up, when you are still freezing.

7. Setting air conditioning at 78 degrees

It may feel a touch on the warm side at your friend’s home, but it may be worth the relative discomfort. If you set your air conditioning at 78 degrees instead of 72, you can enjoy an average savings of 10 percent on your utility bill.

There other affordable ways to keep it cool, such as running a ceiling fan or drinking ice water. You can save money and stay cool at the same time if you use your imagination.

8. Microwaving meals

It might be true that baked potatoes don’t taste quite as good when they’re cooked in the microwave as opposed to in a regular oven, but your lower utility bill may add to the taste.

Turning on the oven, especially during the summer not only costs you more in energy to power the oven, but also in your cooling bills, since the oven heats up the house. A microwave consumes far less energy and can save you hundreds when it’s hot outside.

9. Unplugging devices after each use

The cost of leaving a computer on can cost you $75 per year alone in utility charges. This doesn’t count the other appliances and electronics you leave plugged in all day long. It may feel like a hassle to have to unplug every electrical outlet in your home repeatedly, but you won’t regret it when the bills come rolling in.

10. Buying LED bulbs in bulk

Did your friend just put a giant box of LED light bulbs in her Costco cart? If you want to enjoy energy and cost savings on your lighting, just follow her lead.

Incandescent light bulbs are one of the biggest energy wasters on the planet. They use only 15 percent of the energy they consume, and the rest converts to heat, which is useless for you.

LED light bulbs not only direct most of their energy to lighting instead of heating, but they also have a much longer life span than incandescent bulbs, which means you can save on both your purchases and your utility bill.

11. Planting trees

Trees aren’t just meant outdoor decoration. They can also lower your heating and cooling costs.

A tree planted strategically to shade your window without blocking the view can help to reduce your utility bills, because it will reduce the amount of sunshine and wind that permeates the window. A well-placed tree can also help raise your property value.

Though some of these ideas may sound strange, they can save you big. And they aren’t the only moves that can help increase your energy efficiency. For more information on how you can save on your heating and cooling bill, contact us today.

 

4 Responses to “11 ways you might not have thought of to save energy”

  • Virginia Guest

    The thing that is difficult to unplug your TV is that you have to reset it every day when you plug it back in. Does it really save you that much in $$$ for make up for this headache every day?

    Reply
    • Washington Energy

      Virginia, you have a great point. If you have something that you have to reset every day and it’s a hassle, don’t unplug (except maybe if you are going away for a long vacation). Most people have all kinds of things plugged in in their house that are not used daily or even weekly. Look around the kitchen, basement, garage, office, spare rooms, and you may find some.

      Reply
  • Alice Cain

    What about solar panels? They’re the best of all! We’ve had them for a year, and have paid for no electricity in that time, plus have gotten more than $8,000 in incentives. That beats the heck out of a few LED bulbs!

    Reply
    • Washington Energy

      Yes, solar panels are a great way to save energy, but for those who it’s not a good fit for, don’t give up, there are other ways to go too.

      Reply

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