Conserving energy is no longer an activity reserved for tree-hugging environmentalists. Every homeowner that has concerns about the environment can now get on the sustainability and energy conservation bandwagon thanks to a slew of easy and effective ways to reduce consumption. But it gets better. You no longer have to worry about spending excessive time and money trying to do your part for the environment. Although there are certainly options that will entail time or money (or both), there are also some strategies that won’t cost you a dime; in fact, they’ll help you to save money on your monthly electric bill. If this sounds appealing, and it should if you’re a frugal and environmentally-conscious homeowner, here are just a few tips to help you conserve energy and lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
- Cut usage whenever possible. If you’re like most adults, you have not-so-fond memories of Mom and Dad hammering you to turn off the lights when you left a room or put on a sweater and socks rather than cranking the heat. But now that you’re paying the utilities, you know where they were coming from. So do your part to stop energy waste in your home by turning off electronics when you leave a room, powering down your computer equipment when it’s not in use, and even unplugging your mobile devices when they’re fully charged. And don’t forget phantom drain! By plugging your electronics into a power strip, all you have to do is flip the switch to completely cut the power.
- Perform a home energy audit. This is something that you can do on your own (just check out online tutorials), but you might want to spend the money to hire a pro. This trained and experienced technician will inspect your home from top to bottom, run tests (with equipment most people don’t own), and deliver a report pinpointing areas of energy waste in your home. With this valuable information in hand you can begin to seal leaks, address insulation issues, and basically fix anything that’s costing you more than it should.
- Upgrade to Energy Star. EnergyStar.gov has all kinds of product suggestions for homeowners looking to make a residence more energy efficient. With everything from light bulbs, electronics, and appliances to windows, doors, and roofing, you can find all of the energy-saving options you need to cut your carbon footprint and lower you utility bill. If you’re planning to upgrade these items anyway, why not go with Energy Star approved products?
- Use what you’ve got. If you have insulated windows, a 2-stage furnace, a programmable thermostat, and/or a zoning system in place, you have all the tools you need to ensure optimum energy efficiency – but they can only deliver if you use them appropriately. Opening windows in the summer will cause your home to heat up, making your AC unit work harder when you close the windows. And a 2-stage furnace will run full blast (rather than cycling down) if you constantly place high demand on it. Then there is the folly of failing to program your thermostat to give your system a break while you’re gone and then heat or cool your home efficiently before you return home. As for using your zoning appropriately, that relies on how you set your thermostats. The point is that pricy upgrades will do you no good if you don’t use them.
- Consider alternative energy. Sustainability starts with awareness, flourishes with research, and becomes second nature with practice. But even when you follow these rules to conserve energy, there might still be more you can do. Clean, alternative energy options like solar, wind, water, and geothermal are the final frontier for homeowners looking to conserve. And while they will cost you initially, the money you’ll save over time will eventually offset the price tag and then some.