If there’s one place where budgets were really hit hard last year, it’s home energy costs. Due to inflation raising the cost of nearly everything, fuel prices increased by 28% for natural gas, 27% for heating oil, 10% for electricity, and 5% for propane leading into the winter. That means in most households, they saw their bills go up by as much as tens or even hundreds of dollars per month.
Now more than ever is a good time to do what you can to make your home run as efficiently as possible and stop letting your dollar bills literally float away into the sky. Here are eight tips you can use to lower your home energy bill.
1) Schedule a Home Energy Audit
First things first, you need to know where the problems are in your house. To do this you’ll want to perform what’s called a home energy audit.
A home energy audit is a methodical review of your home’s energy inefficiencies along with some recommendations on how to solve them. A typical home energy audit by a professional might include:
- A review of your home’s major appliances (furnace, hot water heater, washer/dryer, etc.)
- Determining if your windows are retaining heat
- Looking through the attic at the insulation and for drafts
According to Home Advisor, the average cost of a home energy audit is $412 with most homeowners spending between $208 and $670. However, this assessment with fixes could end up saving you as much as 5% to 30% on your utility bills. If you think about how much money that might save you over the course of several years, then it could easily pay for itself.
2) Install Weather-Stripping
When there are gaps around the outside of windows and doors, they can be like a leaky faucet letting all the heat inside your home slip out 24 hours a day. A relatively simple way to take care of this problem is by adding a thin layer of weatherstripping to close this gap.
Weatherstripping is extremely inexpensive and can be purchased in just about any size or thickness that’s needed. All you have to do is cut it to length and then stick it in place. This is a great project, even for beginner homeowners.
3) Program Your Thermostat
If you’re like most families, then you’re not always home and in need of it to be at the perfect temperature. During the hours when everyone is away at work or school, there’s no reason that the temperature can’t be ten degrees colder than it normally is when you’re home.
This can easily be done with a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to write a simple sequence of commands where you choose
- Which time to turn your furnace or air conditioning on
- What temperature it should go to
The device will then take care of the rest by running your furnace or AC to those set points automatically every day.
Programmable thermostats can be purchased relatively cheap from big box stores and aren’t too complicated to install. You can even go to the next level if you want by getting a Wi-Fi-enabled model that allows you to control it from your smartphone.
4) Use Less Hot Water
It costs a lot of money to heat up the water and your house so that it can be ready on demand whenever you need it. For that reason, you should be conscious of what you’re using your hot water for and try to conserve this as much as possible.
For instance, there are many studies that show washing your clothes in hot water is no more effective than using cold water. Likewise, simple routine tasks such as rinsing off the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher can be done using cold water instead of hot. The less you use, the more energy you’ll save by not needing to heat up more water.
5) Close Unused Rooms
When you have rooms inside of your house that don’t get regularly used (such as a guest room), it’s a good idea to simply close them off. All it takes is closing the floor vents and shutting the door. The less volume in your home you have to manage, the less your furnace will have to work.
Additionally, if you have any fireplace chimneys, make sure these are closed too. As nice as a fireplace can look, chimneys can be incredibly inefficient because they allow the heat in your home to escape. Therefore, they should always be closed off when they’re not in use and cool down.
6) Change Your Furnace Filter
When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? If it’s been more than 30 days, then you’ll need to take action. Most conventional furnace filters have a life span of about a month (some more expensive ones may last up to 90 days). Afterward, they typically become too clogged with dust and other particles constricting air to pass through them. This not only makes the furnace work harder, but it will also causes more wear and tear.
Additionally, the same logic applies to the filter and duct connecting to your dryer. Always brush out the dryer filter before each use. As for the duct, if it becomes too clogged, then it can take quite a bit longer for your clothes to properly dry. Clean this duct at least once per year or consider hiring a professional if needed.
7) Consider Adding More Insulation
If you notice that your house has a difficult time retaining heat, then you may want to go into the attic and check if you have the proper amount of insulation. If it appears to be too little or you can spot gaps between the boards, then you should strongly consider having additional insulation added.
Depending on the scope of the work, this could be a medium-cost project. However, if you’re willing to do the work yourself, blown insulation is relatively easy to add. The machine for doing it can be rented at most home-improvement big box stores, leaving you with just the cost of insulation materials to purchase.
8) Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances
If one of your major appliances is starting to get old or needs to be swapped out, consider going for an energy-efficient one next time. These are appliances specifically designed to use less gas and electricity to do the things you need them to do. Most major manufacturers will advertise this information directly on the device. Although they may cost a bit more upfront than you were originally planning on budgeting for this purchase, the cost savings they’d produce over the years could all be worth it.
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