By Mary Sauer
Each year, Americans are spending troubling amounts of money on their energy expenses. In fact, the average family will spend close to $2,200 on their utility bills during the course of a year. The truth of the matter is that many individuals are spending more than necessary because they are not making an intentional effort to conserve energy in their home.
For some, it’s easier to neglect energy conservation practices because, for whatever reason, it simply isn’t a high enough priority. For the readers of My Family Survival Plan, we know this isn’t the case. You care deeply about saving money and minimizing the impact your day-to-day choices have on the earth. So, let’s take a look at some the best ways to conserve energy at home.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and Cooling account for just about half of energy-related expenses in the average family home in the United States. Because of this, focusing your efforts on conserving heating and cooling energy could be the most effective starting place.
Use a smart thermostat to program your HVAC unit to adjust based on your needs each day. Adopt the recommendations provided by Energy.gov, setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees during the day and bumping it up to 80 degrees while you are away from home or asleep. During the wintertime, opt for bundling up so you can lower your heater’s settings to 68 degrees during the day and as far as 60 degrees while you are away or asleep.
As much as 20 percent of heating and cooling energy is wasted because air is leaking through ducts, doors, and windows. Spend the time and money to regularly check for and repairs leaks and you may see a significant difference in your heating and cooling costs over the long term.
Your typical American family can expect to send 10 percent of their utility budget to the lights in their home. Lessening the energy consumed by lighting is all about making a few smart habits and sticking with them for the long term.
An easy fix is to switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which not only last a lot longer before needing a replacement, but also use up to 75 percent less than traditional light bulbs. When it comes time to replace your bulbs, always recycle your old bulbs and check with your local power company about rebates or discounts for CFL bulbs.
Appliances and Electronics
The electronics and appliances in your home have this annoying trait: they use energy passively even when they are not in use. Cutting back on this passive energy consumption can be accomplished with a few different strategies.
Use a power strip for your electronics and turn it off when they are not being used. Give up your desktop computer for a laptop, which consumes significantly less energy. If you stick with a desktop, set it to hibernate when it is not being used instead of using a screensaver.
When it comes to appliances, they key is to use them less. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer, and opt for warming food in a toaster oven instead of heating your conventional oven. If it is time to replace an appliance, chose an energy-efficient model whenever possible, using the guide provided by Modernize for making the best choice for your needs.
Don’t stop here! Approach energy conservation with your whole home in mind, developing a holistic plan to include each room, appliance, and electronic device. Involve your whole family in your energy conservation efforts, educating them on the effect their day-to-day choices have on the budget and the well-being of the world we live in.