As the holidays approach, we can expect our energy consumption to increase. Some of the apparent things that consume a lot of energy this time of year are holiday indoor and outdoor lights and displays as well as holiday gatherings and family and loved ones visiting.
There are things we do every day that might be costing us more energy, water, and money. Some things can be done year-round to conserve energy and save money on utility bills. Sometimes making small changes can make a big difference in the amount of energy you use and the overall cost of your utility bills.
Let’s start with some easy things that you can do that don’t require a lot of effort.
Start by turning off anything that uses electricity when not in use. Limit the use of space heaters, as they use about 1,500 watts of energy to run per hour. Shut off unnecessary running water. For instance, shutting the faucet off while brushing your teeth can save up to four gallons per day per person. That’s about 1,000 gallons of water saved per person a year! Shortening the time you spend in the shower as a 10-minute shower can use as much as 25 gallons of water!
Finally, save energy by running the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer after the peak hours of the day when electricity is at its highest price because of demand. Peak hours are usually 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. During the winter, electricity demand is highest between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., when people wake up and turn up their heat. Running the dishwasher, dryer or washing machine after 8 p.m. might be your best bet to save on your energy bill.
A simple but less obvious change is adjusting the temperature on your appliances. One of the most significant energy-consuming appliances in your home is your hot water tank. Adjust your hot water tank’s thermostat to the manufacturers’ recommended setting. However, be careful not to dial it down too low. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends a water temperature close to 140 degrees Fahrenheit to protect against harmful bacteria. The higher the temperature, the quicker harmful pathogens die off.
At that temperature, it can be too hot for children and the elderly as their skin is thinner than adults, so proceed with caution. Also, according to ZING by Quicken Loans, lowering your furnace thermostat 10-15 degrees during the day when you aren’t home can save you between 5% and 15% on your energy bill per year.
Some other options will require more effort, money and probably a contractor, but will pay off in a big way over time.
First, replacing appliances such as a washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator or microwave with more energy-efficient ones will save you money on your electric bill as they consume less energy. Second, adding insulation to the attic and walls will help insulate your home and regulate the overall temperature. And third, replacing or adding energy-efficient siding to your home will not only increase its curb appeal but will also help keep warm air in and cold air out. This means your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard, and you are not losing warm air through cracks and gaps.
If you want to spend money to make your home more energy-efficient, you can’t go wrong. It’s an overall wise investment that will not only keep you comfortable, conserve energy but save you money for years to come. But saving money and energy doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. There are things we can do each day to save energy and keep more money in the bank. As stated above, small changes can make a big difference in the amount of energy used and money saved.
Rich Cosgrove is president of Stark Trumbull Area Realtors, which serves Stark, Carroll and Trumbull counties. Visit www.star.realtor for a complete listing of Realtors and affiliate members. If you have any questions or comments on this article, contact Cosgrove at firstname.lastname@example.org.