March 11, 2014
Weatherize your home, save now
A terrific way to make a dent in that retirement gap is by modifying some habits and slashing your energy consumption.
Sure, you could do a top-to-bottom home upgrade and incorporate the most cutting edge efficiency features. But, again, small changes can yield long-term savings. Many are cheap and painless. Here are five.
1.Fuel savings. The site http://www.fueleconomy.gov offers tips on making your car operate efficiently as possible, including:
- Emptying your car trunk. Every extra 100 pounds in your car can reduce your miles per gallon by up to 2%. Roof racks reduce aerodynamic drag and kick up fuel costs. A loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.
- Sticking to the speed limit. Consider that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is equivalent to paying an extra $0.24 per gallon for gas.
2. Holiday lights.Those tiny twinkling lights seem innocuous, but they do chew up energy. As you do your holiday decorating, keep in mind that replacing old strings of lights with light emitting diodes (LEDs) can save money.
According to NSTAR, a Massachusetts-based utility company, opting for ten strings of mini-LED lights instead of to ten strings of standard mini-lights can save you nearly $12 in energy costs in just a month. For more information, see NSTAR’s comparison of holiday lights at http://www.nstaronline.com/residential/energy_efficiency/holiday-lights.asp.
3. Water heating. Warming up water is the second largest energy expense in most homes and it typically accounts for about 18% of utility bills. Three free or almost-free ways to reduce your bill this season include:
- Setting the water heater’s thermostat to 120°F.
- Using less water by taking shorter showers, using low-flow showerheads, installing aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets, and washing clothes in cold water. For more water-saving tips, see http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings.
- Insulating your water heater. The cost of a water heating insulating blanket kit is less than $30. For most, a DIY installation takes less than two
4. Weather stripping and caulking. So they’re not the most glamorous projects, but spending a couple hours caulking (here’s a step-by-step how-to, http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-how-seal-air-leaks-caulk) will seal up air leaks, such as those around window and door frames. And doing some weather stripping projects can cut drafts, making your house cozier and your winter energy bills a little less pricey.
5. Vampire power. Those glowing lights from appliances and devices – your TV, DVR and microwave – that aren’t in use constantly suck small bits of power, known as vampire or phantom power, and cost you money every single month. The simplest way to reduce such waste is by plugging equipment into power strips that can be turned off with a single switch.
Also disconnect cell phone and other battery chargers because they chew up energy even when they’re not powering up devices.
For more about standby power, see http://www.standby.lbl.gov/faq.html and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Ctkd0Lwac.