20 Ways To Reduce Your Household Energy Use

by RC on April 9, 2009

Although gas, electricity and other fossil fuel prices have fallen recently, that is no reason to pay more than you need to for your utility bills such as water, natural gas, or electricity. And even though winter is over and those in cold climates will get a break, those of us in warmer climates (read:hot!) are about to get hit with higher utility bills as it heats up during summer.

Becoming more energy efficient throughout your house is good for several reasons. First, it will save you money, often fairly quickly for little initial expense.  Second, it saves natural resources, as cutting down on your energy use saves fossil fuels, like coal, heating oil, and natural gas, both for direct use and generation of electricity in many parts of the country. There is also a federal tax credit of 30% (up to $1500) for installing energy efficient products in 2009 to 2010.  It is a great time to take advantage and upgrade, lowering your bills in the process!

Save on Water

  • Check for leaks- Check for leaky faucets, a running toilet, or other signs of water leaks, and get them repaired.
  • Go low flow- Consider getting a low flow showerhead or toilet for more efficient usage.
  • Reduce the amount of time you run water faucets- Whether in the shower, the sink, or washing dishes, turn off the faucet as quickly as possible.
  • Do your outdoor watering early or late- Avoid watering in the middle of the day, when the water will evaporate faster and make your watering efforts less efficient.

Save on Power, Electricity, Natural Gas, and Lighting

  • Upgrade old appliances- Older appliances can be very inefficient compare to newer, Energy Star compliant appliances. If you are thinking of replacing an older appliance, you may save quite a bit on energy use costs, so keep that in mind.
  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs, like compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL’s)- Compact fluorescent bulbs use about one quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs do, and can last up to 10X longer.
  • Turn off lights- Leaving lights on can become a habit, but getting into the habit of turning off lights when you leave a room is easy to get into.
  • Allow more natural light into your house- use lighter colors, or sheer curtains, to allow more natural light into your house during the day.
  • Eliminate phantom use-unplug unused appliances or chargers- If you leave appliances in that you rarely use, get in the habit of unplugging them, as they will still draw a small amount of power. The same goes for chargers too, such as your cell phone or other portable electronic devices.
  • Set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode- Computers use quite a bit of energy, so be sure to set it to hibernate or sleep mode. You can turn off your computer, too.  The advice that you should leave your computer on most of time is outdated, newer components can withstand the turning off and on better, and most computers will become obsolete technologically before they would wear out anyway.
  • Lower your hot water heater a few degrees- Once again, if you lower it several degrees, you will have to heat it less, and will get used to the slightly lower water temperature quickly.
  • Use your dryer for several loads at a time- The residual heat will cut down on drying time for subsequent loads.
  • Consider an on demand or tankless water heater- Instead of heating gallons and gallons of water, only heat what you need with a tankless water heater.

Save on Heating or Air Conditioning

  • Check for leaks or drafts- Find out where your energy leaks are, and get them closed off or sealed.
  • Insulate- Weatherstripping around doors or windows and insulation in attics or other places can reduce drafts.
  • Lower or raise your thermostat settings- Set your thermostat several degrees lower in the winter, and a few degrees higher in the summer.
  • Consider a programmable thermostat- A basic programmable thermostat can be had fairly cheap, and will start paying for itself right away.
  • Upgrade windows- Older windows, in an older house, can often let a tremendous amount of airflow, i.e., heating or cooling, through, all of which is wasted. It may be more cost effective over a surprisingly short period of time to replace your older windows with new, energy efficient ones.
  • Plant trees- A few large trees providing shade to your house in the hot summer can reduce your cooling bills. It may take several years or longer for the tree to get large enough to make a difference, though.
  • Consider solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, or solar water heaters- There is also a 30% federal tax credit for installing renewable energy systems, and some states, such as Louisiana (which offers a tax credit of 50% on expenses up to $25,000, or a $12,500 credit-a national high, I believe) , offer an additional tax credit on top of that, so it can really add up.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

May Lime April 9, 2009 at 8:01 am

You have mentioned in your article how to save on heating and air conditioning and those tips are good and effective. Nowadays, people are more likely to install HVAC systems in their houses. This is because it can help them save up in their electricity consumptions and increases comfort rates at home.

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Greg April 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm

When trying to save water you should also consider installing a faucet aerator on every faucet in the house. Typical aerators allow for 5 gallons of water to flow through your faucet a minute. Low flow faucet aerators start at 2.2 gallons per minute and go all the way down to .5 gallons per minute. They are only a few dollars, easy to install and you can find them at any local hardware store. Here is a link to examples, you can’t buy on the site but it will give you an idea of what to look for. http://www.faucetaerators.com/faucet-aerators-c-21.html

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