If you are looking to lower your energy use or energy bills (maybe both), start by implementing these five inexpensive changes.
- Monitor Energy Use.
You can reduce your monthly electric expenses by as much as 15 percent just by keeping track of how much power you and your family are using and what areas you need to work on to lower your energy consumption. Installing a plug load monitor to any outlet you use for powering any appliance or device; the monitor show you how much energy the appliance is consuming and when information you can use to help you decide when the appliances should be shut off. Some load monitors are programmable and will cut power automatically.
- Replace Your Showerhead.
Standard shower heads spray water with up to nine gallons of water per minute. An average shower is about 10-20 minutes so an average shower uses about 135 gallons of water. Replacing the shower head with a low-flow shower head reduces water consumption by about 6-8 gallons of water per minute. The newer model low-flow shower heads are very effective and typically you will not notice a difference from your old shower head except when you look at your utility bill. Low-flow showerheads can be purchased for about $15 and typically pay for themselves in four months.
- Install Dimmer Switches.
Dimmer switches are a great, inexpensive way to cut back on energy use. Installing dimmer switches and lowering the energy used by 10 percent will double the life of your light bulbs. Check out our post on how to install dimmer switches, if you want to have dimmers in your home.
- Insulate Your Water Heater.
Insulating your water heater keeps the water in the tank hot for a longer period of time. Wrapping the tank in a blanket or fiberglass insulation will lessen heat loss by 25-45 percent. The insulation will help you save 4-9 percent on your water-heating bill. You can purchase water heater insulation kits for $20 at hardware stores. When installing your water heater blanket, make sure not to block exhaust vents, air intakes, and thermostat access panels.
- Set a Programmable Thermostat.
Programmable thermostats are easily found for around $60 and can help you save around $200 per year by turning the heat down the heat during specific times of the day and night. You can lower energy use by 1 percent for every degree you turn you lower your heat. That means if you set your thermostat 10 degrees lower during times when the home is not being used, you will save 10 percent in energy savings.