Residences in America use around 22.5% of the country’s energy and a lot of it is wasted through leaky ducts or windows, inefficient cooling and heating systems and old appliances. By wasting energy, people are throwing away money that is much needed in today’s economy.
An energy-efficient home that keeps your family comfortable while reducing your energy bill sounds too good to be true. But the reality is that most people have no idea how easy it is to lower your electric bills. Drastic reduction in cooling and heating costs can be accomplished by applying simple changes which most of us can do on our own. By taking simple steps to make your home more efficient, you’ll immediately notice lower energy bills that will save you a lot of money.
How To Reduce Heating Costs
With record low temperatures during winter, saving money on energy bill has never been more important. Therefore, we present to you smart strategies that will significantly reduce your heating costs.
1. Replace/install weather stripping around doors and windows
Seven to ten percent of a heat loss occurs due to leaks around doors and windows and these leaks make us turn up the furnace to keep our home warm. It’s estimated that people can save anywhere from 30%-45% on heating costs just by installing weather stripping around doors and windows. They keep warm air indoors and prevent the cold air outside from seeping in, thus reduce your energy bill.
If you already have weather stripping, determine whether they are still efficient, as some need to be replaced every few years. Replacing them is easy and all you have to do is pull off the old and tack on the new.
2. Adjust the front doors
If you are able to notice daylight under the front door, then you are losing the indoor air and receiving cold outdoor air. Or simply put – you are wasting money. Therefore, it’s essential to adjust the height of the door to eliminate the gap. Most thresholds have screws that enable you to adjust the height, while other doors will be a little harder to adjust. If you are not able to do it on your own, ask your neighbor or even pay a professional, as it will definitely pay off in the long run when you start noticing lower utility bill.
3. Prevent leaks near electrical boxes
Most people have no idea about the leaks around electrical boxes that increase your heating costs. They are drafty as the insulation isn’t placed around and behind them correctly. To lower your energy costs you need to stop air from flowing around the box.
It’s actually quite simple – just remove a cover plate and fill gaps near the box using acrylic latex caulk. If you notice larger gaps, then apply foam sealant instead. Next, put a foam gasket over the switch or outlet and replace the cover plate.
4. Cover windows with plastic film
Windows account for 25% of heat loss that can be easily prevented using plastic film. Therefore, you should cover all your windows (including patio doors) with clear plastic film. This inexpensive plastic film (62×84 inches cost $6) will help you reduce your electricity bills by 14% in the winter.
It’s really simple to put the film on and you’ll barely notice it. When the weather becomes warmer, you can easily strip it off.
5. Prevent air from escaping up the chimney
Having a fireplace is a great way to warm your home. However, it can also be the reason why your heating costs are increasing.
When you are not using your fireplace, the warm air escapes through the chimney and even the chimney flue can’t prevent this. Therefore, you should implement an easy solution like blocking the airflow with an inflatable chimney balloon that you can purchase on Amazon for $50. They are a good investment as they’ll save you around $100 per year, and can last for a long period of time.
Simply blow up the balloon and stick it in the chimney when you are not using the fireplace. In case you forget to take it out before starting a fire, the balloon will automatically deflate and won’t cause any smoke.
6. Use Window treatments
Applying simple logic can help reduce your electricity bill in the winter. During sunny days you should always keep your curtains open, especially on the south-facing windows to let the sun’s rays warm your home for free. In addition, you should close drapes during nights and prevent as much as 10% of heat loss.
7. Control your thermostat
Turning down the temperature by 10-15 degrees while you sleep can reduce your energy bill by more than 10%. In addition, you can reduce your energy bill by 3% for every degree you lower the thermostat. So for example, if you keep your home at 80 degrees and lower it to 75 degrees, you’ll save 15% on your utility bill.
8. Tune up your gas fireplace and furnace
To preserve the life of your furnace, you’ll have to invest some money and call professionals to do some tuning up. This investment will pay off in the long run with more efficient heating that lower your electric bills.
It will include a fireplace or furnace inspection, preventative maintenance and replacement of the parts that are not working properly. In addition, professionals will check for gas and carbon monoxide leaks which can cause serious problems.
9. Use a portable heater
When the temperature is not freezing cold, you can turn down the furnace and turn on the portable space heater to lower your heating costs. Just make sure to place it in a room where your whole family gathers as the rest of the house will be slightly cooler.
10. Lock windows and doors
Closed windows and doors are not pressed as tight against the weather stripping if they are not locked. As a result, there can be leaks that will allow cold air to infiltrate your home. With that being said, always make sure to lock your windows and doors to lower your electric bills.
How To Reduce Cooling Costs
When the summer temperatures start busting the 90-100 degree mark and the humidity makes you feel like you are swimming through a bowl of soup, it’s definitely time to turn on your air conditioning. But using AC doesn’t have to cost you a fortune and there are smart ways to reduce your electricity bills while staying cool.
1. Seal your doors and windows
When we discussed ways to save money on heating costs, we already covered this aspect, but you should know that it applies to summer as well. If there are leaks around doors and windows, the cold air will seep out, which in turn will force you to turn your AC and spend more on your utility bill.
2. Keep the AC low at night
Nights are usually colder and there is no point of having your AC run the whole night while you sleep. Therefore, turn your AC down or choose the “sleep mode” and you’ll reduce your electricity bills during summer as well.
3. Use the portable unit
If you spend most of your day in only one room, you should use portable unit to cool down just that area. It uses 50% less energy compared to air conditioning, which in turn decreases cooling costs.
4. Tune up your AC
Air conditioning requires regular maintenance and will greatly benefit from hosing out. A professional can quickly diagnose any inefficiencies and prevent you from wasting money on electricity bills.
5. Place the thermostat on the right wall
Where you place your thermostat plays a key role in how well your air conditioning works. For example, if you place it on a wall next to a hot window, your AC will kick on more often than it needs. Instead, you should put the thermostat on the interior wall of the room your family members use the most, like the living room.
6. Close the blinds
Opening blinds on a sunny day to let the bright light in is one of the biggest mistakes that can heat up your entire home. You should always close your window blinds and keep out the sun during summer days when it’s really hot. The sun rays won’t only heat up your thermostat – they will heat you up as well. Closed blinds will help insulate the window, reduce heat gain by up to 45% and stop the cold air from escaping. As a result, you won’t have to use air conditioning as often.
7. Increase the temperature
People often wrongly assume that leaving the air conditioning at the same temperature save money as the AC won’t have to work as hard to re-cool your home. However, turning the thermostat up is the most inexpensive way to use AC when you are away from your house or when you are sleeping.
Air conditioning system operates efficiently at full speed during a long period of time. So it makes no sense to leave the AC at the same temperature throughout the day.
8. Use a fan
During summer, we rely on air conditioning too much, and as a result our utility bill rises. However, you can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler using a ceiling fan. It can help circulate the cool air and you won’t have to amp up the thermostat to feel cooler. In addition, ceiling fans use as much as 50 times less energy compared to the air conditioning system and help reduce your electricity bills.
Regardless of the season, make sure to keep your utility costs as low as possible by applying the above-mentioned tips.
Leaky ducts, doors and windows, inefficient cooling and heating systems and old appliances waste both energy and our money. To prevent this from happening, you should make sure your home is energy-efficient, which simply means it has no leaks that can cost you a fortune.