Easy Ways to Cut Energy Costs this Fall
Cooler weather generally means higher energy bills. But if you make some small, easy changes, you might be surprised how much money you can save. And, of course, you save energy in general. Good for the Earth, good for your wallet: it’s a win-win.
Furnaces and Thermostats
- Energy experts estimate you save 2-3% on your energy bill for every one degree you set your thermostat back. This is particularly easy to do with a programmable system since you can target a specific temperature and you don’t need to remember to change anything after you set up the schedule. The machine itself will turn heat way down when you’re gone to work and at night when you’re sleeping, if that’s how you programmed it. Best of all, such systems can be self-installed. Check out this how-to at This Old House blog.
- Clean furnaces work better. Inspect yours monthly during seasons of heavy use. Filters need replacing more often when you use your furnace more often, so get to know where yours is and how to switch it out. Fall is a good time to have heating ducts cleaned also, since you’re likely to use your heat in the winter and you want clean, dust-free air moving through you home when you do so.
Furnace registers are those metal grates that rest on top of heater vents. Make sure you clean yours out, and that nothing sits on top of any of these registers. Air needs to move through them unobstructed for maximum efficiency.
Capture that Heat
- Weatherstrips block any air coming in or out from under doorways. These can be as advanced as metal you drill onto your door or as simple as a long cylinder shaped pillow you sew yourself and stuff into the gap.
- Ceiling fans can help the temperature stay warm as well as cool. Use them in fall and winter to circulate heat by adjusting them so they rotate clockwise. (Counter-clockwise rotation works for keeping rooms cool, so remember that when summer returns, or for those Indian summer days of fall.)
- Different types of light bulbs abound, and there are multiple options for eco-minded homeowners. LED lights, low-watt traditional bulbs, and compact fluorescents all offer different ways to cut electricity use and cost. But each has a different purpose and aesthetic effect, so first-time homeowners might benefit from visiting a Home Depot, Lowe’s, or similar home improvement store to discuss the kinds of fixtures and bulbs available.
Attention to Appliances
- Fridges and freezers are often turned up farther than they need to be. Check you setting. Can you dial it down one notch? Check by using a candy or meat thermometer. The ideal temp in a fridge is around 40 degrees, and in the freezer it’s 5 degrees.
- Similarly, hot water heaters may be up to high. Why would you need your hot water to be hotter than 125 degrees? Check it with that same thermometer. If it’s higher, you can turn your water heater down and enjoy the energy savings.
- Dishwashers often have eco-friendly features like air dry or light wash. Employ these features whenever possible to save money and energy.
- Time to replace something? Choose Energy Star TM appliances when you buy new. Not only will they save you money over the long term, you may get a tax break or rebate from your state or your local utility company.
- Yes, we all want new, double-pane windows. But some of don’t have the thousands of dollars needed to install them just yet. So in a pinch, try blow-on film that traps solar power. Older windows are often insulation deficient, so warm air escapes along the edges of window panes. Products like 3M are simple DIY solutions: just affix and then blow dry onto the windows. The film is clear so it does not obstruct your view in any way; but its ability to trap the sun’s power and to insulate your home could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert
Photo credit: J JMesserly via Wikimedia Commons