In Part 1, I talked mostly about big things you can do to cut your energy costs. Things like buying more efficient appliances and having your heating and air conditioning system cleaned and checked annually. If you can’t afford to make major purchases right now, there are still things you can do to lower costs around your home without putting a dent in your budget.
Seal Up the House
Heat and cool air loss can be big contributors to energy consumption. Leaky windows and drafty doors can allow cooled air to seep outdoors, causing your air conditioner to work even harder. Some caulk and weather stripping, both inexpensive items cans seal up cracks and gaps and help maintain the temperature of your home year round.
Schedule Chores for the Evening
Running major appliances like the clothes dryer, the oven or the dishwasher can heat up your house. Doing this during the day causes the air conditioner to work even harder. Schedule these chores for the evening when temperatures are cooler and it will have less of an impact on your home environment.
Block Out the Sun
Most of us love a room bathed in sunlight but that same room will heat up as a direct result of that sunshine. Use blinds, shades or curtains to block out the sun, especially on west or south facing windows. You can improve the effectiveness of this option by using insulated draperies.
Fans Are for People
Ceiling fans or window fans can make a room seem cooler. The breeze is cooling to the skin but it does not actually change the temperature of the room. Use them instead of air conditioning when you can to reduce energy costs but remember to turn them off if you will be leaving the room.
Light Bulbs Matter
Compact fluorescent light bulbs have a life span of ten years. Over the course of that time, they can save you $35 each. Swap out your incandescent bulbs for CFLs and enjoy the savings. They also give off less heat than incandescent bulbs.
Today’s appliances and gadgets all seem to come with a variety of features including digital clocks and all sorts of indicator lights. The typical living room looks like an airport landing field in the dark with all the red, green and yellow indicator lights of the entertainment equipment. Microwaves and cell phone chargers are drawing power and giving off heat even when they are not in use. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, standby power for appliances not in use typically accounts for 5% to 10% of residential electricity use. One way to cut those costs is to plug those items into a power strip that can be turned off when not in use.