Save Energy and Money With These Tips
As energy costs rise, creating an energy-efficient home is as important as ever. Below are some excellent tips to help reduce energy consumption and lower your monthly bills, courtesy of American Home Shield. The goal is for your property to create comfy living conditions more efficiently.
Outside of upgrading appliances and major systems to be more energy-efficient, which can be at a major cost, there are sensible, low-cost ways to realize some savings. August is traditionally the hottest month of the year in the desert, so look to some of these to have an almost immediate impact on your energy use during a month with peak usage. Proof that cutting back on energy use can be cool!
1. Switch to Energy-Saving Light Bulbs
Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs, which can last up to 25 times longer and at a fraction of the operating cost for the same amount of light. When you are looking for new, energy-efficient bulbs, consider the lumens (amount of light emitted) instead of wattage. Most LED and CFL bulbs are available in equivalents to standard incandescent wattages, such as 40W, 60W, and 100W. If you aren’t sure, check the package.
Other brilliant ways to save on energy output for your home’s lighting include adding dimmer switches, smart plugs, and smart bulbs. Smart plugs and smart bulbs can be set to turn on and off at set times, delivering savings with minimal effort.
2. Insulate Your Water Heater
Insulating your water heater with an insulation blanket is one of the most effective ways to save energy in your home. According to Energy.gov, insulating your water heater reduces heat loss from the unit by as much as 45% and can lower the cost of heating water for your home by as much as 16%. Once installed, a water heater blanket can pay for itself in about 12 months!
The best part is that insulating your water heater is relatively simple. Purchase a pre-cut insulation blanket available at any hardware store and install. It is important to note that before installing insulation you should make sure your water heater doesn’t have built-in insulation.
3. Change Your Furnace Filter
For anyone who has experienced a summer in the desert, you understand keeping your air conditioning unit and furnace in top order are essential. Changing your furnace filter is a quick job with long-lasting benefits. Regularly changing the filter can increase energy efficiency since a dirty, clogged filter puts extra strain on the unit. If you or a loved one have allergies or asthma, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are available to keep the air in your home cleaner.
Changing the filter also presents a prime opportunity to inspect the system for wear and tear. When the time comes to replace your furnace and air conditioner, investing in energy-efficient models can earn you even more savings in the long run.
Pro tip: Your furnace and air conditioner experience normal wear and tear throughout the year. An American Home Shield® home warranty can help cover the cost of repairs or replacements of your home systems when they experience issues due to everyday use. They cover up to 23 systems and appliances, and offer add-on coverage. View home warranty plans on the American Home Shield website.
4. Use a Programmable Thermostat
Another smart way to reduce the load on your HVAC system is to use a programmable thermostat. This handy tool allows you to program temperature settings and create a schedule. By setting a programmable thermostat to keep your house at a higher or cooler temperature you can save money on your heating and cooling costs while you are out for the day and while you sleep. This simple upgrade can go a long way toward saving you money and reducing energy consumption.
5. Install a Chimney Damper
Prepare your home for cool desert evenings by installing, or inspecting and replacing, chimney dampers on any fireplaces in your home. A chimney damper prevents cold air from coming out of your fireplace while preventing heat from escaping. During the summer months it will also prevent cool air from escaping through the chimney.
Since installing or replacing a chimney damper can be relatively expensive, you may want to consider an inflatable chimney blocker or similar device. These devices aren’t permanent, and you will most likely need to remove them prior to starting a fire, but they can be a more cost-effective way to realize similar benefits to a chimney damper should your budget be tight.
6. Install Energy-Efficient Windows
Installing energy-efficient windows can keep your home’s indoor climate from leaking to the outside environment, especially in the Coachella Valley where we experience such an extreme climate. Windows, doors, and attics that bleed cooler, or hotter, air can cause your HVAC system to work more than it should. This extra effort and strain can cause more wear and tear on your system, which may reduce its lifespan. Although the cost of replacing windows can add up, the lower energy consumption and lighter workload on your HVAC system can also amount to significant realized long-term savings.
7. Insulate Your Attic
Much like energy-efficient windows, homes that do not have a well-insulated attic can leak your home’s inside climate and strain your climate control system. Preventing the loss of cooler air (or introduction of warmer air through the ceiling) in the summer, and warmer air in the winter, can go a long way to realizing lower energy bills.
8. Check for Tax Credits
The cost savings of updating your home with energy-efficient updates can reach beyond your monthly utility bills. Renewable energy tax credits are available from the government, while your utility provider may offer rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances and qualifying building improvements. Be sure to keep receipts and inform your tax preparer of any purchases that may qualify, and check with your utility companies for any ongoing rebate programs.
Taking steps to create a more energy-efficient home helps you save money and decreases your carbon footprint. If you would like to learn more about getting home warranty coverage for your energy-efficient home systems and appliances, check out the American Home Shield website.