Energy Saving Tips for the New Year

There’s no time like the present to plan for the new year – especially where your finances are concerned. Before we get neck-deep in the holidays, let’s take some time to plan some goals for 2016 and see how you can cut back and invest more, beginning with saving on energy costs in your home.

Prudent planning involves some degree of controlling your expenses, even your energy bill. By controlling your bills, you have more actual dollars to contribute to your 401k, IRA, college savings fund, etc.

Did you know that in the typical U.S. home, appliances and electronics account for 20% of your energy bill? These include your washer, dryer, computer, refrigerator, television, and gaming consoles, just to name a few.

Below are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take around your home to help ensure maximum savings.

  • Even when they are not turned on, your electronics are running on phantom energy. To conserve energy, plug electronics (TV, game console, computer, etc.) into a power strip and be sure to turn the power strip off when those items are not in use.
  • Reduce hot water use by repairing leaks in your faucets and showerheads. A leak of one drip per second can cost approximately $1 per month.
  • Switch out your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones. CFLs may cost more initially, but use 75 percent less energy and can last 10 times longer.
  • Clean or replace the filters on forced-air furnaces and seal flues in the fireplaces you don’t use.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat and set an automatic schedule for your home. Be sure to lower the thermostat when you are away from your home and at night during the winter. You’ll want to turn it up during the summer months. You can save approximately 3-5 percent on heating costs for every degree change.
  • Install ceiling fans. They’ll cool you off in the summer and promote heating efficiency in the winter.
  • Match the water level and temperature settings on your washer to the size of your load. Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation
  • Water heating can account for 14%-25% of the energy consumed in your home. Be sure to lower the temperature on your water heater to 120°F to save energy, help your unit work better and last longer.
  • Caulk and weather-strip around windows and doors that are allowing air into your home. Adding insulation to your home, especially in the attic, basement, crawl space and around ducts, is relatively inexpensively and highly effective in cutting energy costs.

For more energy saving ideas, visit the U.S. Department of Energy.

Join the conversation. Tell us on Facebook how you and your family cut energy costs.

Originally published by Heritage Trust in 2012.