Going Green - 10 ways to save energy
1. Minimize Phantom Loads
The term “phantom load” refers to the energy that an appliance or electronic device consumes when it is not actually turned on. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. You can eliminate phantom loads by unplugging appliances and electronics when you are not using them, or by plugging them into a power strip, and turning the strip off when they are not in use.
2. Use More Energy-efficient Appliances
If you are shopping for new appliances, make sure to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label before making a purchase. Energy Star appliances use between 10 and 50 percent less energy and water than their conventional counterparts. They may cost more than appliances without the Energy Star designation, but in most cases they will more than make up that additional cost through energy savings.
3. Change Your Light Bulbs
One of the least expensive and most effective changes you can make in your home is replacing your light bulbs. According to Energy Star, one of its qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), which cost just a few dollars, “will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
4. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats work by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature to your schedule, keeping it comfortable only when you need it to be. If you don’t already adjust your thermostat throughout the day, a programmable thermostat could save you as much as 15 percent on heating and cooling costs.
5. Use Fans for Cooling
In the summer, use stationary, ceiling and whole-house fans to cool your home, reducing the need for air conditioning. Simple Ways to Cool Your Home and Save Big explains that for every degree you raise your thermostat, you reduce your cooling costs between 7 and 10 percent
6. Seal Air Leaks
In addition to thinking about whether your home has enough insulation, you should also look for any small cracks and gaps where air is leaking into and out of your home.
7. Make Windows More Efficient
Even if you seal windows well, window glass is a thin barrier against outside temperatures. If you can afford it, install new storm windows in your home. If you can’t install new storm windows, there are other simple and inexpensive ways to improve the energy efficiency of your windows. You can cover windows with transparent material to improve insulation. Use bubble wrap for this, and estimates that it can reduce heat loss from a window by half or winter window treatments are other ways to make your windows more efficient, including using insulated shades and window quilts.
8. Improve Insulation
The Energy Star program estimates that more than 50 percent of a home’s energy use goes toward heating and cooling. Beefing up the insulation in your house’s attic, walls, floors and ceilings slows the flow of air between inside and outside, making it easier to control your home’s temperature. The easiest place to add insulation in your home is the attic.
9. Conserve Water
Using less water will lower your water bill. And when you use less hot water, you’ll also see savings in your gas bill, or your electric bill if you have an electric water heater. To cut down on water use, take faster showers and be conscious of the water you use when washing dishes and clothes and preparing food. You can also save energy by lowering your hot water temperature.
10.) Plant Trees and Shrubs
Planting shade trees around your home can lower your summer energy bill by reducing your home’s exposure to the sun. Properly placed tress can cut your summer electric bill by up to 40 percent. Energy savings from a tree varies greatly depending on its size and location in relation to your house. Planting shrubs and bushes around your home can improve insulation in the summer and winter. If they are planted 1 foot away from your home, they create a dead airspace that shields against cold or hot outdoor temperatures.