Summer break may be over for many, but temperatures certainly disagree. Many of us are still faced with 90- and 100-degree days with energy bills continue to creep upward. Looking for ways to cut costs without cutting the A/C? Read on for tips to trim your energy bill and save more green.
1. Upgrade your appliances
It’s true – sometimes you have to spend money to make money, or in this case, save money. But with many state and local governments (even some utility companies!) offering incentives and rebates for upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances, it might not cost as much up front as you think and the long-term savings on your energy bill could be worth it.
To check what incentives are available in your area, simply enter your zip code into the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). For example, when searching within the state of Texas, DSIRE reports that 125 programs are offered, including grants, rebates and tax incentives.
2. Save heat-generating chores for cooler parts of the day
Have a load of laundry to wash or a full dishwasher to run? Baking treats for the kid’s school bake sale or church carnival? Your best bet is to wait to complete these tasks at the coolest parts of the day. A 350-degree oven warming your home in the heat of the day only forces your air conditioner to work overtime to maintain your desired temperature. Save your laundry duties for post-sundown or early mornings, and consider using the lowest heat settings that will still get the job done – this includes washing laundry on cold since up to 75% of the energy required to run your washing machine goes toward heating the water, which easily turns into cost savings.
Tip: Forego the oven and stove whenever possible and turn to your slow cooker. There are endless recipes for everything from pork roast to brownies, and slow cookers typically use less energy and won’t raise the temperature in your home while in use.
3. Make your home smart
We’ve previously shared tips for making your home smart, which not only adds convenience to your daily routine, but can also help lower your energy consumption. The first place to start? A connected thermostat. A smart thermostat will give you the greatest bang for your buck in the long run. Thermostats such as the Nest, which learn your schedule and preferences and adjust the temperature accordingly, even partner with several energy companies to provide incentives to customers. According to independent studies, learning thermostats like the Nest can lower heating consumption by 10-12% and cooling consumption by 15%, equating to an average annual savings of $131-$145 a year.
Long story short: it can pay for itself in under two years, while continuing to save your green for years to come. And who doesn’t want one less thing to have to think about?
4. Switch to Energy-Efficient Bulbs
Making the switch to energy efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to reduce your energy bill. This part of the results of the new lighting standards between 2012 and 2014. The studies show common light bulbs sold in the United States now use about 25-80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. All while lasting 3-25 times longer. Not only were the old incandescent bulbs inefficient, 90% of the energy given off was in the form of heat, contributing to cooling costs. While consumers have many different options when selecting energy efficient bulbs, including halogen, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED), the biggest savings will be found when purchasing ENERGY STAR-rated bulbs.
Tip: “By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year,” according to Energy.gov.
5. Know the Low-Down on Light Bulbs
Although the initial price of the light bulb can give you a bit of sticker shock, keep in mind that the new energy efficient bulbs will cost you less to operate over the lifetime of the bulb. Not sure which bulb to buy? Here’s the scoop:
- Halogen Incandescent:
Most similar to the light bulbs of yore, halogen incandescents come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and meet the minimum federal energy efficiency standards. For the most energy savings, read on for more efficient bulb options.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs):
CFLs are simply curly versions of those lights, now available in compact versions for a variety of uses. A CFL with the ENERGY STAR stamp of approval will use about a quarter of the energy and last ten times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb. In fact, a standard CFL can pay for itself within nine months and uses about a third of the energy that the above mentioned halogen light uses.
- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs):
Lasting 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20-25% of the energy of the bulbs. They will save you money over the long run due to their extended lifespan. LEDs are ideal for many indoor uses. Because of their durability and ability to withstand cold temperatures, LEDs are also great for outdoor use. Many offer convenient features such as motion sensors, dimming capabilities and even solar-powered outdoor lighting.
Comparisons between Traditional Incandescent,
|60W Traditional Incandescent||43W Energy-Saving Incandescent||15W CFL||12W LED|
|Energy $ Saved (%)*||–||25%||75%||65%||75%-80%||72%|
|Annual Energy Cost**||$4.80||$3.50||$1.20||$1.00|
|Bulb Life||1000 hours||1000 to 3000 hours||10,000 hours||25,000 hours|
|*Percentage saved is an estimate.
**Based on 2 hrs/day, an electricity rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour, shown in U.S. dollars.
Of course there are hundreds of way to trim your energy bill. But these are the biggest bang for your energy-saving buck. The best part? Mother Earth will thank you.