Did you know that taking small steps to save money on your energy bill can also help reduce your impact on the environment? You don’t need to flip your whole life upside down but making small changes here and there can yield big results. When taking the step to reduce your energy consumption here are a few things you can lookout for.
Look for Energy Star Label
Energy Star labels are strict guidelines created by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency for energy efficiency. Manufacturers achieve efficiency in different ways, but no matter what technology is employed, one of the easiest ways to identify the most energy-efficient products is to simply look for the Energy Star label.
Use Energy Efficient Light bulbs
LED lightbulbs are the best bulbs on the market right now. They are the most energy efficient when compared to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) and incandescent bulbs. This is because CFL and incandescent bulbs release a large amount of their energy through heat whereas LED bulbs do not. In terms of lifespan, LEDs last on average 6 times longer than CFL bulbs. Most importantly, LED bulbs do not contain mercury which means that you have nothing to worry about when throwing them away or if they break. LED bulbs do cost more than any other bulb with an average price of 6 bulbs at around $28, but in terms of their longevity and their advantages it is well worth the cost.
CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs) are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. They only use a quarter of the electricity and last years longer. Each CFL bulb contains 5mg of mercury so you will have an extra item to sort in the recycling bin and need to be very cautious in cleaning up a bulb if it breaks.
If you can spring for replacing the appliances in your house (washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, stove), then look for appliances marked with the Energy Star logo.
Try to avoid using your dishwasher when it hasn’t been fully loaded. This will reduce the amount of times you are using it which will save on water and electricity. In our home my dad was always strict about the use of our dishwater, I swear it was more for show than for actual use. We always made sure that it was always full to the brim before we started it. Another thing we did was scrubbed off any stuck-on food before loading into the dishwasher. This meant that we didn’t need to use higher power settings and increased the lifespan of our dishwasher.
Wash clothes with cold water or at least warm water in place of hot water. Instead of using a dryer, air-dry or hang your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack. A lot of energy companies will offer lower rates off peak hours, so if you can wait, wash your clothes during off peak hours.
Take Showers, less Baths
Taking showers instead of baths will reduce water usage and lower your heating bill.
Switch to a low flow energy efficient toilet. The average modern-day toilet can use on average 1.6 gallons (6 liters) per flush, with older toilets ranging from 2-5 times more per flush. Updating your toilet to a low flow or dual flush toilet can reduce the amount of water you use per flush. Now imagine the savings stretched across a day for a family of 4 and you get the long-term big picture. This small change can save you big on your hydro bill.
Turn Off all Appliances Not in Use
Turn off and unplug all small appliances/electronics (tv, toaster, lamps, etc.) when they are not in use. Even though an appliance/electronic may have been turned off, it is still consuming power when it is plugged into an outlet. Invest in power bars, and plug all your electronics such as computers, TVs, and DVDs into them. Using a smart power switch can reduce electricity used to power home appliances, and instead of having to unplug appliances/electronics from them, you can just switch off the power bar which will cut power to all devices.
Weather-Strip Windows and Doors
Check windows and doors for air leaks. Air leaks can be sealed by caulking or weather-stripping. Securing the leaks in your home will reduce the heat exchange between your home and the outside environment keeping hot and cool air in your home longer. Fluctuations in temperature in your home result in higher energy bills. Most people will set a temperature in their home to be maintained automatically. As temperature exchanges between your home and the outside environment, it causes your thermostat to respond to these fluctuations and correct the temperature back to the temperature you set. These temperature corrections result in higher energy bills.
Replacing Windows and Doors
Replacing windows and doors is a common home-remodelling project and experts say it can greatly reduce utility bills. When it comes to choosing more energy-efficient options, consumers are often left feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of technology, terminology and options on the market today.
Understanding the standards will make you better informed when purchasing the right energy efficient window and doors. Efficiency ratings are based on U-Factor, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, and Visible Light Transmission. U-factor is the amount of heat flow through a product, with a lower U-factor being more efficient. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) indicates the ability to block heat generated by sunlight. Like the U-Factor, a lower SHGC value is better. Visible Light Transmission is the percentage of sunlight that penetrates a window or door. Higher percentages mean more light will enter through the glass. Low-E glass controls the amount of heat transferred through a window, which prevents heat loss in the winter. Dual-pane, Low-E glass will help to ensure they are weather-tight and energy efficient. When purchasing doors, look for energy-efficient cores, sills and frames that provide a barrier to energy exchange.