Looking for a realistic resolution to kick off the New Year? Consider becoming more energy efficient. – or, in some cases, several – dollars off your monthly utility bill. There are many different ways to reduce your household’s energy use, ranging from simple behavioral adjustments to extensive home improvements. The two major motives for conserving energy are to save on utility bills and protect the environment.
Here are 14 ways to be more energy efficient in the new year!
Replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which give off the same amount of light but more efficiently. Make sure you use the appropriate CFL bulb for each light fixture, and consider using timers to turn lights on and off automatically during the day.
Upgrade your thermostat to a programmable one that allows you to preset temperatures specific to various times during the day. According to the Department of Energy, programmable thermostats could save an estimated 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. It’s also more cost-effective to keep the inside of your home at a temperature close to the temperature outdoors. Cooling your home can add up to about 50 percent of your electric bill. Set your thermostat as high as comfort permits. Save two to four percent on electricity for every degree higher the thermostat is set. The higher the setting, the more energy you’ll save which will cost you less in energy bills.
Servicing your air conditioner by performing general maintenance such as replacing, or cleaning air filters can lower your cooling system’s energy consumption by up to 15 percent. Add a calendar reminder for the first day of spring to check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil. This should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing optimally.
Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort. In the summer, they should be turning counterclockwise so air pushes downward, making the home feel cooler. Make sure to turn off the ceiling fans when house is empty. Remember to switch your ceiling to rotate counterclockwise in the summer so the blades push cooler air down in the room. This simple step can help with circulating the cooler air in the room and also save you money on your electric bill because your air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard to cool your home.
Don’t run space heaters 24/7 – doing so will zap your energy bill! Space heaters are great for occasional use to temporarily heat a certain area of your home. Your heating bill may be lower if you run them for longer periods of time, but your electricity bill will most certainly be higher.
Rely on your windows when possible to heat and cool spaces. Keeping window treatments like curtains or blinds minimal or leaving them open allows more sunlight into the room, which will generate heat. Leaving windows covered keeps areas cooler.
Washing clothes in cold water could help you save up to 40 cents per load. Low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets can also lead to significant energy savings.
Plug electronics into a power strip, and turn off the strip when the devices are not in use. Avoid energy vampires that drain power and boost monthly bills – this includes plugged in coffee pots and cell phone chargers, screen savers on computers, and virtually anything else that’s plugged in but not in use.
Check the label when buying any new energy-consuming appliance or product. Look for ENERGY STAR labeled items for greater efficiency and cost savings. ENERGY STAR TVs, for example, are 30 percent more efficient on average than traditional models.
Use your appliances wisely, and remember it’s the little things that can sometimes make a big difference. Here are a few tips: A full freezer maintains the appropriate temperature more efficiently. Matching the correct pot size to the size of your burner supports efficient energy consumption on your stovetop. And washing and drying several loads of laundry back to back uses less energy than letting appliances cool down completely between loads.
Give your refrigerator some breathing room by cleaning the condenser coils located on the back or bottom of your refrigerator every three months. This will allow for maximum heat transfer and to keep the condenser from overworking. Also, keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C) and the freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C) as these are the recommended temperatures for storing food safely. If you are buying a new refrigerator, look for an ENERGY STAR® model that uses less energy. And, remember to recycle your old refrigerator through the PNM Refrigerator Recycling program.
Consider installing high performance windows. According to ENERGY STAR, “heat gain and loss through windows accounts for up to 50 percent of a home’s heating and cooling needs.” Advancements in window technologies, including double glazing and low-E coatings, can dramatically reduce heat loss and gain. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to make sure you’re buying the most efficient windows.
Conduct a home energy audit. Calling in experts to analyze every aspect of your home can help you identify energy-consuming issues that may be overlooked by the average homeowner. This includes roof problems, leaky pipes, and improperly sealed windows and doors. Auditors can also make recommendations on key upgrades to consider for further energy savings
To reduce energy consumption in your home, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products. Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. You can also use energy-intensive appliances less by performing household tasks manually, such as hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer, or washing dishes by hand.
The behavior adjustments that have the highest potential for utility savings are turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average home’s utility bills, so these reductions in the intensity and frequency of heating and cooling offer the greatest savings.
There are tools you can use to figure out where most of your electricity is going in your home and which appliances are using the most electricity on a day-to-day basis.