One of the most effective money-saving strategies for any family is to create an energy-efficient environment. In so many areas of life, it costs to be green (buying local and organic food, taking more time to walk to work, etc), but using energy is different. Saving money on energy is good for you AND the world! Below are some strategies that will be helpful in both cutting costs and helping out the environment.
1. Keep it Down
Keep the household thermostat between 68 and 69 degrees during winter months. Not only does this cut down on heat expenses, but it also creates a cleaner living environment, since every heating system emits some form of fumes. During summer, keep the temperature at around 75 degrees. Use fans and drink plenty of water to keep cooler. Also, switching to an electronic thermostat that can be programmed at varied temperatures for different times of the day can be very effective. No more turning the heat off everytime you go to work! For example, during winter, it will lower the temperature for you when no one is home and at night while sleeping.
2. Clean it Out
Ensure that all air filters are changed on a monthly basis. Do this unless the filter is good for 3 months. Clean filters can really aid in lowering heating and cooling bills, because the heating and cooling units will not have to work quite so hard.
During winter and cooler months, keep the drapes or window coverings open, so that sunlight may bring the heat inside. When summer comes, use shades to keep the home cooler by blocking strong sunlight. Most hardware stores also carry a variety of window-cooling shade products, many of which can be applied right to the windows. An added bonus to using these types of shades is having more family privacy.
4. Turn it Off
Turning off all lights and appliances when not in use can equal a huge savings. For example, get into the habit of turning off lights when leaving a room. Train the rest of the family to do the same. Institute incentives for those who adopt the same strategy. Appliances like a coffeemaker that is not set on automatic, stereo systems and lamps in a rarely used spaces can all be unplugged. In fact, if you leave for vacation for a number of days, unplug as many devices as possible (besides, this will always mean less of a risk for fire).
5. CFLs = Your Friend
When it is time to replace light bulbs, switch over to compact florescent lights. They cost a little more initially, but the energy savings will well exceed the cost of the bulbs. These bulbs last far longer, so they will not have to be changed (anywhere near) as frequently. Also, many electric utilities offer monetary incentives for using the bulbs. If you’re really hesitant, just remember that these are soon gonna be all that’s available (the law’s passed) – so get on the bandwagon now!
Start using dimmer switches as much as possible. Turn ceiling fans to the winter setting – which is backwards - to force warm air down. This can help save quite a bit on heating for the season. Use the ceiling fan in warmer months instead of air conditioning as much as possible.
7. Security Lights
Set security lights for outside on timers. Not only is this a safer strategy, but you will save on the electric bill. Try using solar powered lights outside, as these are wonderful for the environment, require no maintenance and usually look pretty cool.
Ensure the attic and other household spaces are adequately insulated. Be certain that the furnace and water heater are current by having them serviced by a professional. Put coverings around window openings where there are drafts. Use plastic or have storm windows installed.
Judy Grey likes to write about green living, personal finance, environmentalism and www.lifeinsurancequotes.org.