While there are plenty of costly ways to save on your utility bills this winter like buying a high efficiency furnace or solar-paneled roof, there also are things you can do to cut energy usage that won’t cost a thing. Effective energy solutions can be implemented simply by knowing what to look for around your home. Following are no-cost energy saving tips:
Ceiling fan. A ceiling fan circulates air while using very little electricity making it naturally energy efficient. A ceiling fan can help warm you up in the winter as easily as it can cool you down in the summer. One of the most economical ways to save energy is to run your ceiling fan in the proper direction. When operated correctly, a ceiling fan that’s sized appropriately for a room can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bills. Most ceiling fans have a switch that controls the direction of the blades. A fan running counter-clockwise blows air down to cool your house during warmer months. A fan running clockwise circulates warm air near the ceiling which makes the room warmer. This places less demands on heating systems and allows you to comfortably turn down your thermostat to save on energy costs.
Programmable thermostat. According to Energy Star, approximately 70 percent of consumers find programmable thermostats too difficult to operate and, as a result, lose out on energy savings. Turning down your thermostat one degree can save you two percent on your heating bills. Programmable thermostats save energy with pre-programmed temperature settings that allow you to scale temperatures back as you leave your home and warm things up upon your return.
Home electronics. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), up to 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Power continues to run through home electronics even when you have them turned off. Common household devices that consume electricity while not in operation include: computers, TVs, cable boxes, cell phone chargers and other power adapters – basically anything with a microchip that requires at least some electricity to keep its inner clock ticking. Use a power strip for often-used devices found in groups, such as the TV, cable and surround sound system or the computer, printer and scanner. It allows you to run a number of devices from one power source.
Performing an energy audit will help you understand how you and your home consume energy. An energy auditor will find air leaks or insulation problems and recommend energy saving products. Call your local energy company to see if they offer free professional audits. If you’d rather do this yourself, the Department of Energy provides a free, do-it-yourself plan that can be found at http://www.eere.energy.gov.