Saving money is at the top of everyone’s to-do list these days. Unfortunately, just living costs money. In fact, the average American family spends over $2,000 a year on utilities alone.
Aside from being a heavy burden on your wallet, electrical and gas energy usage leave a major footprint on the environment – air pollution, over-consumption of water, and carbon emissions are all dangerous side effects of normal home utilities.
To help you save money and the world around you, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the top energy saving tips for everything from electricity to water usage. Be sure to check out the infographic at the bottom to find out what your personal environmental footprint is!
How to Save Money on Electricity
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly electric bill was $117.65 in 2018. However, some regions’ average was as high as $137.80 per month. Limiting your electricity usage could lower these costs significantly.
Appliances take up approximately 13 percent of total home energy use, according to Direct Energy. Use these energy saving tips to lower your monthly bill and become more energy efficient.
- Don’t open the oven door. Every time you open the oven door, internal temperatures could drop by up to 25 degrees. Use the inner light to check your food instead.
- Leverage smart technology. Use Alexa or another smart assistant device to automate your appliances. You can even turn appliances off remotely.
- Keep appliances clean and well-maintained. Appliances run more efficiently when filters and door seals are cleaned regularly and free of dust or build-up.
- Use only cold water for laundry. Switch to hot water only when you need to disinfect – it can save you more than $60 per year.
- Clean the dryer vent often. Not only is this a good safety habit, but it will keep your dryer running more efficiently.
- Switch to energy-efficient appliances. ENERGY STAR appliances are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy and will lower energy usage by 10 to 50 percent every year.
- Don’t leave the refrigerator door open. The longer the door is left open, the harder the refrigerator has to work to maintain its temperature.
- Don’t hand wash your dishes. Using an electric dishwasher is more energy-efficient and can actually save 5,000 gallons of hot water per year.
- Let dishes air-dry. Skipping the dishwasher’s drying cycle can cut energy use by 15–50 percent, depending on the machine.
- Avoid using the rinse-and-hold setting on your dishwasher. This setting uses three to seven more gallons of water than the regular wash cycle.
- Make tea in a kettle, not the microwave. Boiling water in a kettle heats water more efficiently, using less electricity while heating faster.
- Order delivery. The occasional delivery or takeout meal is an easy way to save on electricity by skipping the dirty dishes.
Turn the lights off when you leave the room. This simple idea has been used by households around the world, but it isn’t always accurate. Check out the tips below to see how you can save money with better lighting habits and more efficient light bulbs.
- Avoid incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs give off only 10 percent as much light as LEDs – the rest is heat energy. They should always be turned off when you leave the room.
- Opt for LED lights. The operating life of an LED bulb is unaffected by turning it on and off, so you won’t lose money if you forget to turn them off. You can find these at any home improvement store.
- Use certified ENERGY STAR fixtures. These lights come with a two-year warranty, double the standard for the industry.
- Use natural light when possible. Mirrors, bright paint colors, and light-colored home decor all help reflect natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.
- Automate your lights. Use motion sensors or timers to turn lights on and off when you need them – this is especially helpful for outdoor lights.
Nielsen’s 2019 Total Audience Report found that Americans spend almost four and a half hours a day watching TV. This pastime adds up when it comes to your energy bill. Use the energy saving tips to keep electric costs down on home electronic usage.
- Unplug computers and other small electronics. Letting your computer idle wastes significant energy. Power down laptops and personal computers when you’re not using them to save money.
- Unplug battery chargers. Some battery chargers continuously draw energy, even when the device is not plugged in. Unplug phone and other chargers when you’re not using them to avoid this “vampire power consumption.”
- Turn power strips off. When you aren’t using them, turn power strips off to reduce idle energy usage.
- Adjust screen brightness. Lower the brightness levels to make your device’s battery last longer. You can even automate this with some devices.
- Utilize your computer’s “hibernate” mode. Use “sleep” or “hibernate” instead of a screensaver to save up to $30 annually.
- Invest in smart plugs. Being able to turn off plugs from anywhere (even if you’re not home) could save you a significant amount of money.
Heating and Cooling
Home heating and cooling accounts for some of the biggest energy and financial expenditures per household. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money when heating and cooling your home. Check out the tips below – they apply to homes that use natural gas, too!
- Check for leaks. Look around any openings to the outside, including windows and doors. Use caulk to seal these leaks and keep warm air inside.
- Adjust your thermostat regularly. Lowering the temperature by 10–15 degrees for eight hours a day can save 5–15 percent on your heating bill.
- Invest in a smart thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat can save an average of 10–12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater. The best setting for energy efficiency and savings is about 120ºF (49ºC).
- Wrap older water heaters with insulating blankets. This simple trick can reduce heat loss by up to 45 percent on average.
- Add a timer to your water heater. Turning off your water heater at night is a simple way to save on heating costs.
- Turn your water heater off when you’re gone. If you’re going on vacation or will be out of the house all day, shutting the water heater off completely will save energy and money.
- Insulate air ducts. About 20–30 percent of heated or cooled air moving through a home is lost due to leaks in the ducts.
- Insulate water pipes. This can raise temperatures up to four degrees, allowing you to lower your water heater’s settings without sacrificing hot water.
- Change air filters regularly. You should replace filters every three months for the most efficiency.
Would you be surprised to know that the average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water every day? Your water footprint might be bigger than you think it is, so learning how to cut back will help you and the environment.
For a family of four (with each person using 100 gallons per day), the average American household’s water bill is $72.93 per month. Learn how to cut back on water usage for the environment and your wallet using these energy saving tips.
- Time your showers. A standard shower head sprays 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Take four minutes off your daily shower to save 3,650 gallons per year.
- Invest in low-flow shower heads. Anything under 2.5gpm (gallons per minute) is considered a low-flow shower head.
- Colder showers. Aside from being great for your health, taking cold or lukewarm showers will cut down on water heating costs.
- Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. This could save up to four gallons of water per minute.
- Say no to baths. A full bathtub could require up to 70 gallons of water. A five-minute shower saves significantly more water and money.
A standard washing machine uses 20 gallons of water per load. Use these energy saving tips to reduce water consumption while you’re doing laundry.
- Don’t run a load until it’s full. Reducing the loads of laundry you do every week could save up to 10 percent on laundry-related energy costs.
- Invest in energy-efficient models. A new ENERGY STAR washing machine uses only 14 gallons of water per load, saving over 2,000 gallons of water annually (compared to a standard machine).
- Rewear clothing more often. A 2015 study by Levi’s found that washing jeans every ten wears “instead of every two times reduces energy use, climate change impact, and water intake by up to 80 percent.”
Whether you make these changes for your wallet, the environment, or both, these energy saving tips will help you reduce energy usage, cut back on costs, and make the planet healthier. Going green at home can be a great way to save some green, after all!