10 Ways to Lower Home Energy Costs

A pen and glasses laying on top of a gas bill.

With ever-increasing energy costs and the growing importance of energy conservation, most homeowners are looking for ways to reduce energy consumption. The benefits of lowering energy costs are many. You reduce your bills and, at the same time, do your part to save the environment. Listed below are some easy, effective ways to lower home energy costs.

Step 1—Lower the Thermostat

The biggest energy expense during the winter months is home heating. You do not have to keep the thermostat on high at all times to feel warm and comfortable. Setting the thermostat at or below 68 F will save you a considerable amount of money. Wear warm clothing indoors, such as sweaters and socks. This will negate the effect of the lowered thermostat.

Step 2—Reduce Air Conditioner Usage

Like your furnace in the winter, your air conditioner can be quite expensive to run in the summer. Try to avoid using it exclusively. Try other means of cooling down, such as a fan. Use cross-ventilation to promote the flow of air in your home. A very long-term investment is to plant trees around your home to block the sun, thereby reducing heat buildup indoors.

Step 3—Reduce Water Usage

Take shorter showers. Use low-flow faucets and showerheads to reduce water waste. When you brush your teeth or scrub dishes, make it a point to turn the water off whenever you're not using it.

Step 4—Unplug Appliances Not in Use

Appliances that are turned off, but left plugged in, consume energy in the form of standby power. Unplug appliances such as televisions or stereos, or use power strips to turn them off completely. Unplug all chargers that are not in use.

Step 5—Lower Temperature on Water Heater

Lowering the temperature setting on the water heater saves you money and energy, and also reduces the possibility of getting scalded by hot water. Avoid using hot water when washing dishes.

Step 6—Use Shades or Drapes to Maximize Interior Comfort

You can use curtains and drapes very effectively during hot and cold weather. In winter, open the drapes during the day, to maximize the flow of sunlight, and close the drapes at night to lock in the heat. During summer, close the drapes during the warmer part of the day and open them at night to let in cool air.

Step 7—Wash Clothes in Cold Water

Washing clothes in cold water can save you a sizable amount of energy while giving you the same results as with the use of hot water.

Step 8—Minimize Use of the Dryer in Warm Weather

In summer, hang clothes to dry outdoors. This will reduce the need for the dryer, and let you save on energy as well.

Step 9—Replace all Incandescent Lights

Incandescent lights are a highly inefficient means of lighting your home. Replace all incandescent lights with fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights bulbs and you could reduce your overall lighting expenses by 50%.

Step 10—Check Furnace Filter and Vents Regularly

To maximize furnace efficiency, check the filter regularly and have it cleaned or replaced, as required. Make sure the vents in your home are clean and free flowing. Otherwise, they won't operate efficiently.