It’s always a good idea to see where in your home you can save money safely and efficiently—going without heating in the winter isn’t a good idea—with some methods more effective than others. Here they are, organized into three categories based on price and savings.
The following tips are designed to only save a few dollars, or cost a few dollars to gain savings.
Unplug Unused Devices
It may be tempting to leave the spare TV—or even the regular one—plugged in all the time, but doing so just uses electricity unnecessarily. Get in the (free!) habit of unplugging everything that’s not used constantly, and watch your energy savings climb.
Replace Incandescent Lightbulbs
Swapping out your incandescent lightbulbs for LED or CFL bulbs only costs a couple dollars per light fixture. And with lighting accounting for 12% of energy used in the average home, the savings can add up to almost $6/bulb each year, making the cost pay off right away.
Another tip that should go without saying is turning off the light switch when you’re not in the room. Contrary to popular belief, it actually does not take more energy to turn the lights on and off than it does to leave them on.
Seal Air Leaks
The amount of heat that escapes through door and window leaks is incredible, and can cost hundreds each year if they’re bad enough (though most usually aren’t). But with a caulk gun or plastic window wrap—ranging from a few dollars to maybe $20—these costly air leaks can easily be avoided.
With these tips, you may have to spend a bit more money, but usually the savings are more substantial, too.
Water-saving showerheads can cost a bit of pretty penny, but using a 2.5 gallon per minute showerhead instead of a 5.5 gmp until translates to 27,000 fewer gallons each year—and an extra $260 in your pocket. And though not everyone might be crazy about turning off the showerhead once you’re lathered up, that’ll go incredibly far in savings, like enough for an all-inclusive beach vacation.
While a ceiling fan may be a bit of an expenditure, it can also cool your home by about 4 degrees in the summer, which means using a lot less air-conditioning. Make sure to get a fan that’s Energy-Certified, as they’re about 50% more efficient than others.
There are many different types of window blinds, ranging from simple vinyl blinds to more expensive in-window blinds, which makes it difficult to provide an exact figure. But keeping out the hot sun is another way to cut down on air-conditioning.
These tips can be a few hundred dollars to implement and their returns won’t be seen right away, but rather over the course of years to a decade.
Replace the Refrigerator
Fridges get more and more energy efficient all the time, which can make it difficult to know exactly when to replace it. But if it’s 10 years old or older, then it’s definitely time to switch to a new, energy-efficient model. If you can’t afford a new one, look for a used fridge that’s a couple years old—just like a car.
Add Storm Windows
Replacing the windows is never an inexpensive undertaking, but it works well for a couple reasons: they’re vulnerable spots in the home but good ones can create a stronger barrier between the interior and exterior, and it adds a lot of resale value.
Evaluate the Furnace
Just like a fridge, furnaces can be energy suckers or energy savers. Furnaces aren’t cheap to replace but with heating and cooling accounting for 40% of a house’s cost, a 90% efficient model can save 27% of costs than a 25-year-old 68% efficient furnace.
Laundry is an unavoidable fact of life, but a front-loading washing machine uses 50% less energy and 33% less water. And instead of using the dryer constantly—especially for small loads—hang laundry outside whenever it’s not night, cloudy or damp, or on laundry racks under and beside vents.
SourcesEnergy.gov: When to Turn Off Your LightsSFGate: How Much Money Do You Save Using a Water-Saving Showerhead?msn Money: How I cut my electricity costs by $300 a monthSourceable: Cost-effective and Sustainable Remodeling and Retrofit TipsReal Simple: Cut Your Energy Costs