You could be saving money right now. You could lower your utility bills with a few upgrades—the kind that cost just a few dollars. If you have a bit more money and time, you could be saving thousands over the long haul. How can you do it? You need to pinpoint the areas of your home that draw the most energy, and then figure out how to lower that usage. Here are some ideas on how making minor home upgrades can save you money:
The usual line-up: you probably already know that the appliances in your home draw a lot of power, but do you know how much? Some of them use a lot of energy, and that shows up in dollar signs on your monthly utility bill. Some of the appliances that take up a lot of energy in your home are:
- Furnace fan: your furnace is constantly pushing cool or warm air through the ducts of your home. But did you know that an older fan could account for up to 10% of your total utility bill? Remedy that problem with brushless permanent magnet models, which can cut usage to around 4%.
- Pool pump: most pool pumps are running non-stop during the summer months, and your utility bills skyrocket because of that tiny pump uses seven times the energy of your fridge. An Energy Star pump with multiple or variable speeds cuts energy use by up to 80%.
- HVAC system: you already know this pulls in a lot of power; how much depends on how often you use it, as well as how well insulated your home is. Upgrade to an energy-efficient model, caulk and seal all the holes in your walls, around your windows and all around your doors, preform regular maintenance and install a programmable thermostat to cut costs even further.
- Water heater: it sits there and heats water—all the time. It winds up wasting 14% of your energy costs just to keep that water hot. A tankless water heater can cut down significantly on the energy it takes to provide hot water; especially if you use natural gas or propane.
- Refrigerator: it might feel wrong to replace a refrigerator that is working just fine, but keep in minds that newer models have a edge on energy efficiency, which can save you money in the long run. When you do get a new model, run it between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum efficiency.
- Washer and dryer: these must-have items can make up 6% off a home's energy use, but you can reduce that with a high efficiency washer that cuts down on water usage, as well as a dryer that employs moisture sensors to cut off heat when clothes are dry.
Eradicate the vampires: even when they are turned off, ‘vampire’ electronics are still sucking power. These include the smallest things in your home that are constantly on standby, such as your television, computers and game consoles . According to a report, the greatest vampire draws in your home are usually related to satellite and digital cable. Buying Energy Star products can help, but even with the best energy-efficient products out there, vampire power still adds up. The remedy to this is quite simple and inexpensive: it’s a power bar. Plug in those things that draw phantom power and turn them all off at once with the flip of a switch. The good news is that for savings of up to 10% of your total energy bill.
Consider the power source: most of us get our power directly from the power company, and dutifully pay our bills every month. But what if some of the energy that came into our home everyday was the result of solar panels? What if the heating and cooling in our home was due to geothermal energy drawn from the earth, rather than relying solely on the utility companies? These options are pricey. The geothermal system can cost between $20,000 and $25,000 for a 2500-square foot home, while solar panels can run between $15,000 and $40,000, depending on the size of the installation. That’s before tax incentives, which can save you up to 30% of the total cost. The savings over time add up, but you must plan to live in your home for many decades in order to recoup the investment.
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