5 Easy Steps to Save Energy and Money on Your Electric Bill
October 3, 2010 Leave a comment
Cold weather is on its way and you know what that means? Crazy utility bills from Pepco and Washington Gas will be other their way to your mail box too! While waiting for the green technology to be fully implemented in our home system, here are 5 changes you can make to help your home be more energy efficient:
1. Do a Nightly Energy Sweep
We all have left fans, lights or appliances on at night while we sleep, but doing so wastes increasingly expensive energy.
To save money, do a nightly sweep through the house to make sure all your electric devices are turned off before you go to bed. It may be a pain, but the savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly. It takes about $9 per year to run just one compact fluorescent lightbulb through the night, $21 for a conventional bulb and $35 for a big ceiling fan on high, according to the energy calculators at MichaelBluejay.com.
2. Do Your Meter and Utility Bill Match Up?
Utility workers make mistakes just like the rest of us, and when they make mistakes reading your meter, it can be costly. While you’ll probably notice a big error on your utility bill, you may not catch more subtle errors.
Make sure you’re only getting charged for the electricity you actually used by comparing the meter reading on your utility bill to what you actually see on your meter. If the amount on your meter is lower than the one on your bill, that’s a dead giveaway that you’re being overcharged. Reading a meter isn’t exactly child’s play, but the Jacksonville, Fla., utility company JEA has a handy primer.
3. Paint Your Roof White
A 1999 study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group found that in sunny climates, buildings with white roofs required up to 40 percent less energy for cooling than those with black roofs. At current utility rates, that means you could save $120 or more per year in cooling costs.
An inexpensive white, elastomeric coating will do the job and can be found at most hardware stores in states in the southern half of the U.S. Elastomeric coating is a blend of polymers that is durable, flexible and waterproof, and offers the fringe benefit of helping to increase your roof’s life span and water resistance. All you’ll need to apply it is heavy-duty paint rollers on an inexpensive old paint roller frame, with an extension pole attached to save wear and tear on your back.
4. Set Your Water Heater at 120 Degrees
Not only does heating your water too hot create the danger of scalding, it can cost you cash.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a heater set at 140 degrees or higher can waste $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses to keep water at that temperature, and more than $400 to bring fresh water up to that high temperature. To save even more money, you can turn your electric heater off or turn your gas heater down when you go on vacation to save even more.
5. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
Growing up, you probably had a frugal relative who enforced strict limits on how high or low the thermostat could be set. If you don’t have one now, a programmable thermostat can play this role for your home automatically. Based on your family’s schedule, you can program it to automatically set the target temperature higher in the summer and lower in the winter when your family won’t be home.
Prices on the thermostats have come down so much — you can buy one at a hardware store for as little as $25 — that installing one is a no-brainer, especially because the EPA estimates the average homeowner can save $180 per year with a properly programmed unit.