3 Eco-Friendly Ways to Lower Energy Costs This Winter

Reader Contribution by Gwen Lewis
article image

Some will say the opposite of spring cleaning is preparing for the fall and winters months, but finding ways to save energy during the winter can also help protect our planet. Statistics show that if all homes in the United States had Energy Star-rated heating systems installed, not only would that save consumers over $170 million in annual utility costs it would also considerably reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Non-compliant computers are even more costly, since Energy Star models could save users, in the US alone, almost $2 billion annually and cut back on the emission of greenhouse gases equivalent to around two million automobiles. Even using just one energy-saving light bulb would save $40 during its lifetime.

Lowdown on Lighting

We mentioned replacing traditional, incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving options like LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) or CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights), but many consumers may be hesitant to do so because of their higher initial cost. The truth is, the long-term benefits and savings are astronomical—check out some of these estimated examples:

Traditional = 1,200 hours
LED = 50,000 hours
CFL = 8,000 hours

Energy Usage:
Traditional = 60 watts
LED = 6-8 watts
CFL = 13-15 watts

Annual Operating Cost of Thirty Light Fixtures:
Traditional = $328.59 per year
LED = $32.85 per year
CFL = $76.65 per year

When it comes to protecting our planet, the switch from incandescent bulbs to LED or CFL bulbs will greatly reduce annual CO2 emissions, sulfur oxide levels, and high-level nuclear waste are all greatly at an average of 451 pounds, 1,051 pounds and 4,500 pounds respectfully.

Winterizing is Worth the Cost

To help our houses stay warmer in winter months, many homeowners will opt to weatherize their homes, but some consumers question whether it’s worth the cost. According to one study by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the answer is most likely yes. After the DOE weatherized 750,000 low-income households, they tracked the results and found an average savings of around $400 in energy costs for each home annually.

Energy-saving supplies like weather-striping, caulking and Styrofoam insulation for exposed pipes are relatively inexpensive and installing them is a breeze. Many local utility companies will offer their customers an energy audit, at no cost, to see if these cheap and easy solutions can benefit your home. If not, even paying for a professional energy auditing service should still pay for itself within the first year. Thereafter, families should expect to save about 30 percent on their energy bills every year.

Water, Water Everywhere

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that we reduce the temperature on our hot water heaters to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to an average setting of 140 which can cost, on average, $400 or more annually to bring up the heat on our fresh water. Think of Californians who are suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades, every gallon of water wasted is one that could be saved through this practice.

While residents of the Golden State are looking forward to the possibility of an El Niño event this winter in hopes of solving some of their current water woes, we can all do our part to reduce water and energy consumption. In the long run, it will cut costs in our pocketbooks and help protect our most valuable resource, Mother Earth.