Plenty of people begin a new year thinking about making changes. Just as many people also tend to break a resolution they made before the last bit of confetti was vacuumed off the living room floor. Data from the University of Scranton notes that 45% of us make resolutions, but only 8% of those resolution makers actually achieve their goals. Not very promising is it?
One reason for such a high failure rate is that we tend to be overly ambitious in our choices. I won’t ever eat chocolate again! I’ll lose 30 pounds in two months! No wonder we fail. At least one of the keys to success, then, seems to be taking baby steps that can add up to one lofty success story.
That’s why we created the 31 Ways to Save Energy in Your Home. We decided to launch it early in the year because you’re more likely to think about making changes in the new year. But you can pick any day or month to start your savings! Under the little-changes-can-add-up theory, incorporate one tip a day, or maybe one a week if that works better for you. The more energy saving tips you tackle, the greater your chances of saving energy at home — and potentially saving more on your monthly energy bill as a result. Now that’s a resolution we can get behind all year long!
Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle. Just open the door after the rinse cycle and let Mother Nature do the rest. If you run your dishes in the evening, you can wake up to dry dishes without a single kilowatt being used. Doing this can cut dishwasher energy use 15-50%, depending on the machine.
Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F. Potential annual savings for every 10ºF you reduce the temperature? $12-$30.
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
Plug home electronics into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
Insulate heating ducts. In a typical house 20-30% of the air moving through the duct system is lost due to leaks.
Install low-flow showerheads. For maximum water efficiency, select a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.
Use Energy Star-qualified CFL and LED bulbs. These LEDs and CFLs use 20-25% of the energy of traditional incandescent bulbs.
Want to change an energy habit? Power of Habit author Charles Duhigg says you need to identify the cue that prompts the behavior and then create a reward to make a permanent change.
Turn off incandescent lights when you are not in the room. 90% of the energy they use is given off as heat, and only about 10% results in light.
Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently. Turning your thermostat back 10°-15° for 8 hours can save 5%-15% a year on your heating bill.
Seal air leaks. Sealing air leaks can result in up to 30% energy savings, according to energy.gov.
Don’t block radiators.
Raise the temperature slowly to keep your bill lower. Quickly raising your heat pump’s temperature activates the heat strip, which uses more energy.
Add an insulating blanket to older water heaters. This could reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45% and save about 4%–9% in water heating costs.
Older appliances are often less energy efficient. Replace them with ENERGY STAR products.
Use microwaves and toaster ovens to cook or warm leftovers. You’ll use less energy than cooking with a conventional oven.
Clean/replace filters in furnace. Energy.gov recommends changing the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes the system work harder.
Avoid using the rinse hold setting on your dishwasher. This feature uses 3-7 more gallons of hot water per use.
Open curtains facing the sun; close curtains/blinds at night.
Take shorter showers. A typical shower head spits out an average of 2.5 gallons per minute. Reducing your shower time by 4 minutes per day may save 3650 gallons annually if you shower once a day.
Install a timer for your water heater that will turn it off when you are not at home or at night.
Clean the dryer lint filter regularly to keep your dryer running efficiently. Don’t forget the tubing. Use the long nozzle on your vacuum periodically to clean out particles that get beyond the filter.
Add aerators to your faucets. Choose aerators with a flow rate of no more than 1.0 gpm for maximum savings.
Insulate hot water pipes. This reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2°F–4°F hotter than uninsulated pipes, allowing you to also lower your water temperature setting, for additional savings.
Set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode instead of using a screen saver so it uses less electricity during periods of inactivity. ENERGY STAR ® estimates that using these features can reduce your electric bill by up to $30 annually.
Keep the oven door closed while cooking — the temperature can drop by as many as 25 degrees each time you open the oven door. Click here for more energy saving tips in the kitchen.
Replace your five most-used light fixtures and/or bulbs with ENERGY STAR® products. If every American did this, we would save about $8 billion per year in energy costs.
Air dry clothes. But if you prefer a dryer, click on the blog to find out which is more efficient—the gas or electric dryer.
Wash clothes with cold water; today’s laundry detergents work just as well in cold water, and you’ll potentially save $63 annually.
Turn off your water heater if you plan on leaving home for a few days. Most models will reheat the water to the set temperature in about an hour.
Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use. Many chargers draw power continuously, even when the device is not plugged into the charger.
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Life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last century. In fact, the World Health Organization now estimates that people over the age of 65 will outnumber children under the age of 14 by 2050.
Whether you’re planning to spend decades in your home or hoping to move in the near future, it’s always wise to consider the best home improvements for resale. Traditionally, new siding, decks and bathroom remodels have been among the best upgrades to add value to a home.