Did you know that the average U.S. family spends close to $1,300 a year on utilities? Sadly, (for your pocketbook and for our environment) a big portion of that energy is wasted.
We’ve all gone through our houses and turned off lights, checked for leaky faucets, and inspected weather stripping. But here are a few things that you maybe haven’t thought about before that can help you save even more.
Take advantage of the sun. Keep draperies and shades open on south facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Don’t heat or cool empty space. Turn down the thermostat or turnoff the heat for unoccupied rooms.
Keep registers, and filters clean. And make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
Be patient. Your house won’t warm up or cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past your desired temperature. And it’s easy to forget to turn it down, which wastes more energy.
Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units – but don’t block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses about 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees Fahrenheit provides hot enough water for most uses.
Take showers instead of baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.
Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from your house.
Clean your windows to maximize solar heat that can be gained.
Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to reduce your energy bills. A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can provide shade or act as a windbreak and reduce overall energy bills.
Plant trees that lose their leaves in the fall. When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house.
Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch on your dishwasher, prop the door open a little after the final rinse so the dishes will dry faster.
Use a microwave or toaster oven to cook small portions.
Put a lid on your pot. This reduces cooking time and energy use.
Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Turning on the hot water for even a second uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet.
Match the size of the cookware to the heating element.
Dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, about 6 gallons less per load.
Front loader washing machines use about a third of the energy and less water than a top-loading machine. They also remove more water from you clothes during the spin cycle which means less energy will be used to dry them.
Use the moisture sensor when drying your clothes. The sensor automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. This not only saves energy, but it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
Information taken from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.