When looking for ways to save money, a good place to start is by saving energy. Do you really need to use as much energy as you do on a daily basis? If you were to look at your habits and home equipment very closely, you will likely find that a large portion of the money you spend on energy is waste.
Energy waste refers to energy used to produce heat, light, motion, or sound when those forms of energy aren’t needed. If a light is on in an unoccupied room, that’s energy waste. If a home’s air conditioning is running while nobody is home, that too is waste.
A common misconception in regard to energy conservation is that a person must sacrifice to save energy. That’s totally untrue and I’ll explain how you can start saving money with a few simple changes to your lifestyle.
1. Turn off lights when not needed. You’ve heard this tip before, right? That’s because it’s the easiest, and one of the most effective ways to save energy. Leaving just one 100-watt light bulb turned on all day, every day, would cost over $87 in a year. Get into the habit of turning off lights when you leave a room. Your wallet will thank you.
2. Close curtains and blinds. Windows are usually the least insulated part of a house. Windows tend to have an R-value, also known as their ability to resist heat transfer, below 2.0. Blinds and curtains add an extra layer of insulation and additional R-value. That extra insulation can really add up to big savings over the course of a year.
3. Program your programmable thermostat. According to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, about half of the people who have a programmable thermostat don’t use them properly. They tend to just use the “hold” feature, which turns a programmable thermostat into a wasteful, standard thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, learn how to use it properly. If you don’t have one, buy an Energy Star-rated programmable thermostat at the first chance you get.
4. Use a microwave oven to heat foods. Microwave ovens use significantly less energy to heat food than conventional stovetops and ovens.
5. Unplug vampire devices at night. Vampire devices, like televisions, DVD players, stereos, and computers, still use energy even when turned off. For the equipment’s protection, they should always be plugged into a surge protector. You can then save energy by simply getting into the habit of turning off those surge protectors before bed.
6. Use your dishwasher. We often forget that a large part of our home’s energy usage can be attributed to heating water. Dishwashers are much more efficient than washing dishes by hand. Just make sure the dishwasher is completely full before turning it on.
7. Lower water heater to 120 degrees F. Having your water heater set above 120 degrees F is wasteful and dangerous. Use a thermometer to check the water coming out of a nearby faucet and adjust the water heater accordingly.
8. Use your computer’s power-saver mode. Changing your computer’s power plan to power-saver can cut your computer’s energy usage by as much as half.
9. Turn off coffee-makers when done brewing. Coffee-maker heating plates use a lot of energy and place demand on your home’s cooling system. Instead, turn off the heating plate and re-heat brewed coffee in a microwave. You won’t notice a change in the coffee’s taste, but you will notice more change in your pocket.
10. Replace incandescent light bulbs. While my intent for this article is to highlight no-cost (free) ways to save energy, I never pass up an opportunity to mention how wasteful incandescent light bulbs are. There is simply no excuse for anyone to purchase an incandescent light bulb ever again. Replace your incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent (CFL) or LED bulbs immediately. The new bulbs will typically pay for themselves within a few months, and they last a lot longer.
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