10 Easy Ways to Save on Energy at Home

You can save money and lower your utility bills with these tips for energy efficiency.

| July 21, 2009

These days, it’s more of a win-win than ever to save on energy. Every time you lower your utility bills, you put more money back in your bank account. And lower energy bills also means less energy consumed, which means less harmful emissions released into our environment. And what makes this an even better deal is you don’t have to overhaul your home (or buy a new one) to make it more energy efficient. There are many easy, effective things that you can do, with little investment and little or no DIY experience, to save energy at home. Here’s a list of 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Minimize Phantom Loads

The term “phantom load” refers to the energy that an appliance or electronic device consumes when it is not actually turned on. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.” A report from the University of California Berkeley says that phantom loads account for about 6 percent of all national residential electricity consumption. You can eliminate phantom loads by unplugging appliances and electronics when you are not using them, or by plugging them into a power strip, and turning the strip off when they are not in use. For more information, see Save Energy, Eliminate Phantom Loads.

2. Use More Energy-efficient Appliances

If you are shopping for new appliances, make sure to look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label before making a purchase. Energy Star appliances use between 10 and 50 percent less energy and water than their conventional counterparts. They may cost more than appliances without the Energy Star designation, but in most cases they will more than make up that additional cost through energy savings.

3. Change Your Light Bulbs

One of the least expensive and most effective changes you can make in your home is replacing your light bulbs. According to Energy Star, one of its qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), which cost just a few dollars, “will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.” Although some people are concerned because CFLs contain mercury, Energy Star says that CFLs do not release any mercury when in use, and actually reduce mercury emissions because they lessen the need for electricity from power plants that emit mercury. Learn more at Energy Star’s CFLs and Mercury page. For more energy-efficient lighting, see Bright Ideas for Home Lighting.

4. Install a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats work by automatically adjusting your home’s temperature to your schedule, keeping it comfortable only when you need it to be. If you don’t already adjust your thermostat throughout the day, a programmable thermostat could save you as much as 15 percent on heating and cooling costs. For more information on programmable thermostats, including a step-by-step guide to installing one, check out How to Install a Programmable Thermostat.

5. Use Fans for Cooling

In the summer, use stationary, ceiling and whole-house fans to cool your home, reducing the need for air conditioning. Simple Ways to Cool Your Home and Save Big explains that for every degree you raise your thermostat, you reduce your cooling costs between 7 and 10 percent.

1/18/2016 9:03:19 PM

I've averaged $65 electric bills - brought them down to $30. Electric AC kills my average in summer. CFL are perhaps more economical but getting rid of them includes hazardous materials I'm not comfortable putting in a landfill - they don't last very long either. I've converted to LED lights - perhaps more expensive, but way cheaper in energy usage. I think they will pay for themselves in 10 years or so - are advertised to work for 20 years with 5 hours use a day. I read some of your comments that they don't throw enough light - the quality of the light is different but you can get 100 W to 5 W bulb equivalents. I've experimented with them and have them all over the house - including outside. Some are dimmable, motion sensitive/light sensitive (for outside lights - turn on when dark and someone passes close). ________ Killing power to all kinds of electronics makes a difference. one strategy is using switched power strips so you can power only what you want to power - "Tripp Lite 7 Outlet (6 Individually Controlled) Surge Protector Power Strip 6ft Cord (TLP76MSG)" is available on AMAZON. I've turned off the clock on my stove; I turn off power to TV, Internet, computer, etc - no phantom power thieves in my house - all on switched power strips so I can turn on what I need and not what I don't. For small electronics I use solar powered batteries - from Goal Zero. Hope this helps someone.

9/9/2014 12:40:35 AM

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2/16/2014 1:40:18 PM

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