In this time of stagnant wages and increased cost of living, who isn’t interested in finding ways to cut costs as well as benefiting the environment? There are several steps you can take to ensure lower costs; some require a little investment of time or money upfront, but the long-term benefits make it well worth it. Not only can they benefit you with lower energy bills, but these improvements may also increase your home values and help your chances of selling your home. Here are seven easy and beneficial ways we came up with:
Set your heating and cooling temperature to best suit your needs by investing in a programmable thermostat. You can program the temperature to be higher (summer) or lower (winter) when you are at work or away on vacation, helping to cut costs and save energy. A programmable thermostat can save you an average of $100/year on your energy bill.
Insulation upgrade. Nearly half of the homes in the U.S. are under insulated. Make sure your pipes and furnace, as well as attic and any outside walls, are well insulated to help cut down on money from seeping out unnecessarily through the windows and walls. Applying a fresh seal of caulking on the windows and installing door sweeps will also help keep heating and cooling from escaping.
Ceiling fans are a great way to save costs. In the summer they keep you and your home cool and in the winter you can switch the directions of the fan blades so it circulates the heat back down, allowing the thermostat to register a more accurate reading and keeping the heat where it is needed most – on the lower levels.
Replace old appliances. Kitchen appliances have drastically increased their energy efficiency over the years due to strict regulations and higher industry standards. So while may you think you’re saving money by keeping an older appliance running, the amount of money needed to run the machine may be costing you more in the long run.
Switch light bulbs. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). CFLs last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. LED bulbs are mercury-free and last up to five times longer than CFLs. The price of running a 60-Watt incandescent bulb for 20 years (based on 6 hours per day) is $360 compare that to running a 60-Watt LED equivalent for the same amount of time is only $72. Imagine how much you could save by replacing every bulb in your home with LEDs over the course of many years!
Solar Power where possible. Solar panels, which can be used to heat water or generate electricity, can save money on your energy bills in the long run, lower your fossil fuel usage, and may qualify for tax incentives. This technology is still fairly new and although costs have decreased, it is still quite an investment. You can have an expert energy auditor come out and inform you of how much you’ll actually save with the use, sometimes free of cost to you.
Check with your energy provider to see if you qualify for a rebate for installing certain qualifying appliances or equipment. For example Columbia Gas of Virginia will give their residential customers a $300 rebate/unit for installing a high-efficiency gas furnace if it has an AFUE greater than or equal to 90% and a $50 rebate/unit for the purchase and installation of a Smart Thermostat from a pre-approved list.
What do you think about these seven ways to make your home more eco-friendly?