Want to save energy and lower your utility bills?
Make progress fast with these simple, inexpensive mini-projects:
1. Install a programmable thermostat
For most households, heating and cooling take the biggest bite out of the energy budget. With a programmable thermostat, you don’t forget to adjust the temperature before you go to bed or leave for work. You might save 10% or more on your bills.
Cost: Well-rated models start at about $40. Smart thermostats that you can control remotely start at around $150.
Before you buy or do anything, contact your utility company. Some participate in programs that offer free energy audits, free or rebated stuff, and free installation. You can check the national energy-incentives database at dsireUSA.org too.
2. Seal windows and doors for winter
A typical home loses 25% of its heat through its windows. Winterize leaky ones with caulking and heat-shrink plastic. It can be worth putting plastic even on newer windows to add an insulating pocket of air.
Cost: A tube of caulking costs a few dollars, and a low-tech caulking gun, as little as $4 or $5. A heat-shrink plastic kit for two standard windows is about $7. You need a hairdryer for the heat-shrink part of the job.
3. Install low-flow showerheads
Water heating is right behind space heating and AC as a portion of most households’ energy use. When you use less water, you use less of that expensive hot water.
Cost: Showerheads start at around $20. You might need a small roll of plumbing tape, too.
4. Replace lightbulbs with LEDs
Replacing just five bulbs could cut $75 a year from your electric bill, according to the US Department of Energy. Plus, LEDs can last more than 20 years. Start with your most-used lights.
MYTH: LED light looks bad
The first LED bulbs produced only a cool blue light. Nowadays, there’s a range of both cool and warm options that can make every room in your home look great. You can buy dimmable LEDs too.
5. Get power strips for electronics
Some equipment and appliances use energy even when they’re “off” or in standby or sleep mode. Power strips let you group electronics and turn them all off-off with a single switch. Some households can save as much as $100 a year, according to the US Department of Energy.
Cost: Starting at $5. More expensive ones are heavier duty and offer surge protection.