During the winter months, energy costs often skyrocket, leaving many consumers wondering how to save money. It’s actually not that difficult to make a few changes that will improve your heating and electricity costs, in addition to cutting down on carbon emissions. If you are looking for some green tips to make your home more efficient, there are some simple every day things you can easily do this winter to help conserve energy and make your home more eco-friendly.
As you try to think of ways to reduce costs and energy use around your home, consider the things you do daily that count the most. For example, showers can waste a great deal of water and it takes energy to heat the water up. Why not install a water conserving shower head and an insulated wrap around the hot water heater? Sometimes, just making small changes can make a big difference when trying to make your home more green.
Speaking of water usage, try washing all your laundry in cold water. Science has proven that cold water does just as well at cleaning clothes as hot water. There are even detergents that are designed to work better in cold water. In the kitchen, you can set your dishwasher to a lower heat setting and only use it when the dishwasher is completely full to maximize your water usage.
Select energy efficient appliances for your home, especially the units that get a lot of daily use. From kitchens to laundry rooms and entertainment spaces, your home should include appliances that have the “Energy Star” rating, a seal of approval that guarantees lower energy use and a reduction in pollution. Buy appliances that are designed for what you need, not the oversized models that are for large families or commercial use.
When you are not using them, be sure to unplug all electronics and get used to using them during off-peak time frames to maximize your savings. You’ll experience a 10% to 30% drop on average for electric bills just by unplugging items like televisions, computer monitors, coffee pots and toasters which account for a large amount of wasted energy in most homes. In addition to saving energy, you’ll worry less about damage to electronics during power surges.
Here’s an easy way to make your home greener, whether you own your home or rent a dwelling. Try switching all light bulbs to energy efficient florescent bulbs. They cost a couple of dollars more, but last five times as long. In addition, you can expect a decrease in electric bills of at least $10 per month for every ten bulbs used. Over time, they practically pay for themselves!
Set your thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 55 degrees at night. Over time, you’ll learn to acclimate to a temperature that is still comfortable, but not causing you to overheat rooms. If you get a little chilly, try throwing on a pair of slippers and a sweater instead of jacking up thermostats. Avoid turning heating systems completely off and then turning them back on abruptly, which only uses more energy.
Once a month, replace heating and air conditioning filters, because energy is lost when air conditioners and hot-air furnaces have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters.Green your home even more with living plants that will filter out impurities and dust in the air, giving your environment systems additional power. Your home will be cleaner and your family will breathe easier with a little help from Mother Nature’s built in air cleaning system.
A little preparation goes a long way when making your home more green. Before the coldest winter weather arrives, take the time to visually inspect your home for any wear, gaps or possible sources of energy waste. Install inexpensive weather-stripping to old windows and seal up cracks with clear acrylic sealant – products that can be purchased cheaply from hardware stores. Use a rolled up blanket at all entry doors to keep out drafts and try switching to insulating drapes at windows.
There are many simple things that the average consumer can do to reduce energy waste at home during the winter months and all year long. Over time, you can save a great deal on energy bills and create a greener, more earth-friendly home by following the above tips.
Published in the Winter 2009 Edition of Simply Green Magazine
Tess C Taylor