Energy cost checklist: Are you really saving money?
A lot of recommendations are available for energy savings, but sometimes, knowing whether the investments are worth the cost is difficult. Use this checklist to learn how to save money on energy, no matter your budget.
Not everyone has the cash on hand to invest in new windows or insulation. If your budget is low to non-existent, try the following fixes:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs). These options use considerably less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs. According to Utah Clean Energy, you'll save roughly $30.00 in electricity over the span of each bulb's life.
- Plug all appliances and electronics that have adaptors, lights or clocks into a power strip that can be switched off when not in use. These include items like microwaves, toasters, TVs and stereo systems. Utah Clean Energy estimates that 40 percent of all electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off; power strips will prevent power from running to these electronics.
- Wash clothes in cold water and dry them on a line or drying rack to save more than $60.00 each year on your energy bill.
- Set the thermostat low during the winter and high during the summer. For every degree you lower or raise the temperature, respectively, you can save approximately 5 percent on heating and cooling.
If you have a little money to invest in energy savings, consider the following:
- Invest in Energy Star Rated appliances and fixtures. If you can only replace one appliance at a time, start by replacing your water heater or refrigerator. These two fixtures alone account for 13 percent and 10 percent of your energy bill, respectively.
- Install and use a programmable thermostat.
- Replace traditional ceiling fans with Energy Star ceiling fans. These will keep the room cooler while using less energy.
Worth the big investment
Some energy improvements cost a pretty penny up front. If you have the money on hand and you want to see long-term savings on your home's energy bills, consider the following fixes:
- Increase your home's wall, floor, basement and attic insulation. In most cases, you'll need a contractor to recommend and install insulation materials, which can get a little spendy -- but this could help cut heating and cooling expenses by 20 to 30 percent, according to Utah Clean Energy.
- Install Energy Star double-pane windows throughout your house. Like insulation, new windows can save up to 30 percent on your heating and cooling. If you can't afford new windows, consider placing plastic sheeting around your windows during the winter. It may not look pretty, but it can save you almost as much on your energy bill as new windows.