The old saying never put off until tomorrow what you can do today is as true for energy conservation as it is for anything else. While energy efficiency projects such as weatherization and furnace upgrades may seem time consuming and expensive, there is no need to worry. These low-cost energy-saving measures will not take up much of your time and they can help you to start reducing your energy costs today.
- Adjust your thermostat. Adjusting temperatures at night or when you are not at home is one of the most effective ways to lower your energy bill. For every degree of temperature change over an eight-hour period, you can save an average of 1 percent on your heating or cooling costs.
- Go unplugged. The average American household uses 25 consumer electronic devices. Many of these devices continue to use energy when they are turned off. While some devices must remain plugged in, unplug extra televisions, stereos or computers that you do not use very often. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unplugging unused electronics can save you up to 10 percent on your electric bill.
- Change your furnace filter. A dirty furnace filter reduces heating and cooling system efficiency, wasting energy and costing you money. If you have not changed your filter for awhile, check it. Filters for most systems can be found at your local hardware or DIY store. Change the filter once per month during the heating and cooling seasons.
- Lower your water heater temperature. Tank water heaters are typically installed at a temperature setting of 140°F. You can save on water heating costs simply by lowering the thermostat. For most households, a temperature setting of 120°F can optimize savings while still providing you with a hot shower.
- Air dry your laundry. If you are planning on doing some laundry, why not air dry your clothes? It will save you the cost of running your dryer and air drying can help your clothes to last longer.
- Close the curtain on heat loss. Windows produce a substantial amount of heat loss and decorative window treatments (such as draperies, shades and shutters) can keep that heat where you want it—inside your house. Make sure window treatments hang as close as possible to the window to create a sealed air space. Close window treatments at night to trap in extra heat.
- Cook up energy savings. Home cooking is a great way to make healthy meals for your family, but careless cooking habits can waste energy. Cover pots and pans; food will cook more efficiently and the kitchen will stay cooler in the summer. Match pots and pans to the size of the burner and keep burners clean. Save energy by using a microwave oven to heat food whenever possible.
- Turn on ceiling fans. If your home has ceiling fans, turn them on during hot or cold days. Turning them on in the summer increases air circulation, making you feel more comfortable and reducing your need for air conditioning. In winter, reverse fan direction to circulate warm air that rises near the ceiling down into the living space. To avoid wasting energy, remember to switch ceiling fans off when you leave a room.
By looking around your home and asking yourself some questions, you can probably find additional ways to save. Are lights frequently left on in unoccupied rooms? Do you wash dishes and laundry with less than a full load? Can you take a shorter shower in the morning? With a few simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your energy costs and your impact on the environment.
Consumers Energy offers expert advice to help you save energy in your home. Learn more about our Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. It features in-home consultation to help you identify areas for improvement to save energy and money.