You probably already know that replacing those old, leaky windows in your charming fixer-upper would save bundles on your heating and cooling bills.
But new windows don’t come cheap – hardly anything does these days, right?
You don’t have to break the bank to save big on your energy bill, though, energy experts say.
Just ask Jennifer Mays of Kansas City, Mo. She earned valuable energy credits on her electrical and gas bills by doing a few simple tasks, such as adding more insulation to her midtown home’s attic and spraying expandable foam insulation in the gaps where her home meets its foundation.
Mays’ home underwent an energy audit – where a certified expert lists simple ways to eliminate inefficiencies.
Here are few more inexpensive ways to use less electricity in your home. Some don’t cost any more than time.
• Install a programmable thermostat. This is an easy way to shave dollars off your bill, says Kim Winslow, manager of energy efficiency at Kansas City Power & Light.
Programmable thermostats keep you from changing your cooling and heating settings on a whim, she says. You program temperatures for when you’re home and away, awake and asleep. In the warm months, general guidelines call for a setting of 78 degrees or higher.
“For every degree you raise it in the summer, you can cut your energy consumption by 3 to 5 percent,” Winslow says.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with more-efficient fluorescent or LED bulbs.
Compact fluorescent bulbs burn about 30,000 to 35,000 hours before they give out and use between 20 percent to 30 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs. They cost more initially but make up for their expense in energy savings.
• Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Don’t worry about the biggies, like the oven and microwave and washing machine. But everyday workhorses like the coffee pot, printer and television consume energy even when not in use.
An easy way to solve this problem is by using power strips. Then you can just turn off the strip when you go to work or to bed at night, Albright says.
• Check doors and windows for weather stripping. Cracks around doors and windows can let cool air out and hot air in during the summer, vice versa in the winter.
• Change the way you cook meals when it’s hot outside. Using the oven heats up the kitchen and makes the air conditioner work that much harder. Try the microwave, or plan ahead and use the slow cooker. Or head outside and fire up the grill.
CUTTING THE BILLS
www.planetgreen. discovery.com: Tips on cutting home energy consumption.
www.energysavers. gov: Lots of information from the U.S. Department of Energy on saving money and energy at home.