As stated in the book Do It Yourself Home Energy Audits, Americans spend an average of $2,000 a year on electricity, or around $166 per month, according to the Energy Information Administration. For people who live in areas of the country with more extreme weather conditions—like Phoenix, Arizona, with its blistering hot summers or Portland, Maine, with its long, cold winters—this figure can easily go much higher to accommodate the extreme temps. A home’s size is also a factor, with larger homes and multi-level homes requiring more energy usage than smaller dwellings such as apartments.
Fortunately, there are a variety of simple and easy tips that any homeowner can do to help reduce the overall use of power, as well as energy costs. Check out these eco- and wallet-friendly tips.
1. Maintain Your Heating Unit Regularly
Sometimes, it’s the simple things that can make the biggest difference. Change the furnace filter on a monthly basis and having your heating unit inspected annually. The $50 to $75 that you will spend to have your system thoroughly checked over by a professional could reward you with energy savings of around five percent. To make it easy to remember these tasks, change the filter on the same day you pay your electric and/or gas bill every month, and schedule the inspection around your birthday.
2. Keep Heat Registers Open
For homeowners with forced-air furnaces, keep all of the heat registers open—even in the rooms that are rarely used. Although this might seem counterintuitive, the furnace was created with a certain home size in mind and will work just as hard when the registers are closed. In addition, cold air from the closed register rooms can leak out and cause the rest of the house to feel colder than necessary.
3. Lower the A/C Unit
In order to save on air conditioning costs, focus on minor adjustments. During hot summer months, raise the thermostat just a degree or two from what your normal settings to reap up to 25% savings on your summer cooling costs. Your A/C will run less often, potentially extending the lifecycle of your unit. To keep the A/C unit running as efficiently as possible, change the filter every month; clogged filters can make the unit work a lot harder, which leads to higher monthly bills.
4. Keep Curtains and Blinds Closed
Your southern-exposure windows may offer a beautiful view, but they can also add to the increased temperatures in your home during the summertime. When the sun is beating on the glass, consider keeping the curtains and blinds closed; this can help to keep the temperature in the room down and reduce energy usage. In addition, the types of window coverings you have in your home can impact a room’s temperature. For example, retailers like The Shade Store offer a wide variety of wide variety of window coverings including solar shades that reduce the impact that sunlight has o your energy bills.
5. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat to better control your day and night temperatures and keep cooling costs in check. The Energy Star program suggests the following:
- 7-day models are best if your schedule tends to change day to day. These models offer the most flexibility, and let you set different programs for each day.
- 5+2-day models use the same schedule every weekday, and another schedule for weekends.
- 5-1-1 models are best if you tend to keep one schedule Monday through Friday and have different schedules on Saturday and Sunday.