Summer is coming along with its heat waves and dreaded high electric bills. If you are like me, I really hate high energy bills and as a family, we do our best to conserve wherever possible. Here are some things that we have been working on to get our house ready to conserve energy.
1. Washer/ Dryer
Instead of washing your clothes with hot water, switch to warm or cold. This will help your water heater not to run on overtime. Also, give your dryer a break for awhile and line dry your clothes in the summer heat. Not only is this an awesome way to save the life of your clothes, the sun is a natural stain remover.
If you really hate the stiffness of line dried clothes, just throw them in the dryer for a couple of minutes to get them soft and fluffy again. This is still saving energy because you are not fully drying them, but you get the feel you desire.
Another way to save with your dryer is to make sure the lent trap is cleaned out before each load. This helps the air to circulate more freely, allowing your clothes to dry more quickly.
Put a thermostat in your refrigerator and turn your refrigerator down, keeping the temperature around 37 degrees. Try to keep your freezer around 3 degrees. Refrigerators consume about 20 percent of your electric bill so keeping the gaskets and around the doors sealed tight is a big energy saver.
3. Water Heater
Setting your water heater at 120 degrees instead of the typical 140 degrees saves you quite a bit. "Each 10 degree reduction saves 600 pounds of CO2 per year for an electric water heater, or 440 pounds for a gas heater. If every household turned its water heater thermostat down 20 degrees, we could prevent more than 45 million tons of annual CO2 emissions - the same amount emitted by the entire nations of Kuwait or Libya." (taken from Ecomall)
Another easy way to save money with your water heater is wrapping it in an insulation jacket like this one. They normally only cost between $20-30, and are well worth their investment!
I know this is really difficult for some, but keeping your house around 80 degrees in the summer and 65 degrees in the winter really keeps your electric bill to a minimum. Do your best to find a happy medium in what temperature you can live with.
We are totally okay with having our house 80-85 in the summer, but I also rarely if ever us the oven. I plan simple meals that can be cooked in a crockpot, grilled outside, or cooked quickly on the stovetop. Vice versa, during the winter, I use the oven and stove a lot. If your house is sealed properly, it will be able to conserve heat from these sources and save energy that way.
Because I don't really like being cold, I take full advantage of our awesome fireplace. We use this natural heat to warm up the house instead of turning on the heater during the day. My husband also is Romanian and loves any excuse to build a fire, so this works well for us.
5. Air Filters
Keep an eye on how dirty your air filters become. Air filters should be changed once a month to once every three months depending on brand and location. Air filters block pollen, dirt, and debris from getting into the a/c and heating unit. When they become dirty, it makes your HVAC unit work very hard to pump air through them thus wasting electricity.
6. Weatherize your House
My husband is very adamant about energy conservation and is always looking for little ways to make our house more energy efficient. Some simple ways he has done this are as follows:
- Caulking all outside seams
- Insulating under the house
- Good insulation in walls, ceiling, and attic
- All holes, inside and out, sealed
- Weather strips around the windows
- Seal around HVAC and water heater pipes
- Seal around plumbing vents
- Apply radiant barrier to your attic roof
- Caulk cracks where the floor meets the wall
- Use an inflatable fireplace plug when it is not in use
7. House Color
If you live in a warm climate like I do, painting your house a light color helps to conserve the cold air during the summer time. If you live in a cooler climate, consider painting your house a darker color to help it conserve heat naturally.
8. Turn off Lights
Whenever you leave a room, remember to turn off the light. As much as you can, do your best to avoid turning the lights on altogether by utilizing natural light sources. I keep my windows open all the time to help the house be nice and bright. This not only helps conserve energy, but it also reduces the stress on your eyes causes by artificial lighting.
I have noticed recently that when I use my computer with tons of natural light available, my eyes do not get tired and achy. Whereas when I am working on my computer with only artificial light, my eyes become very sore after a short while.
Things to Purchase to Help with Energy Conservation
1. Double pane windows
Double pane windows are definitely a big investment, but according to the experts, they will pay off themselves off in a few short years. They reduce the outside noise as well as help to insulate your house.
2. Solar Panels
It has been said that you can save a minimum of $85 a month on your electric bill by utilizing the power of the sun to supply electricity. There are also several tax breaks that you can take when you invest in solar panels like this one. "The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30 percent tax credit for residential and commercial properties that convert to solar energy by the end of 2016."(Taken from Forbes)
3. Energy Efficient Appliances
While I love old models of appliances and have always been slow to change with trends, I must admit that the energy efficient appliances of today really do make a big difference. They are made with energy conservation in mind and do a lot to reduce the amount you spend on your electric bill.
I never realized this huge difference until I walked into my mom's laundry room after having done six big loads of laundry for the day. I stopped for a moment and realized that the laundry room was not hot. It was a tad stuffy, but not hot like mine was after doing just one load of laundry.
So as much as is budget possible, it is best to fade out the old appliance in exchange for the newer energy efficient models.
These are some future investments that we will eventually make, but for now, we are just concentrating of being good stewards and using our energy sources wisely. What are some ways that you have learned to conserve energy and keep your electric bill to a minimum?