Everyone’s looking for ways to pare down their monthly budget these days – while also staying cool through the heat of the summer. One big budget line item for households is the monthly utility bill. Why pay more if you don’t have to? Most homeowners can save up to 25% on their monthly bill by taking basic steps to save energy AND stay cooler. Here are the top three ways to do it:
1. Get a home energy audit.
Energy efficient homes are more comfortable, healthy, and cost less to cool and heat. A home energy audit reveals where cool or warm air is leaking or energy is being wasted. Auditors evaluate insulation, windows, air ducts, heating and cooling systems and appliances. They recommend improvements and show the impact on your monthly utility bill.
You can conduct a simple home energy audit yourself, contact your local utility, or call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination. (Veterans Green Jobs offers this service for free to income-eligible households. Learn more at veteransgreenjobs.org/green-and-healthy-homes.)
2. Insulate and seal air leaks.
Cooling and heating account for about 43% of your utility bill. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. By combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades with appropriate insulation, air sealing, and thermostat settings, you can cut your energy use for cooling and heating from 20% to 50%. Insulation can be added to your attic, walls, floors, crawl spaces and basement.
Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy dollars. Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, air ducts, fireplace, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets. Also caulk, seal or weatherstrip them.
3. Tame your appliances and electronics.
Appliances and home electronics account for about 20% of most people’s energy bills. This includes clothes washers/dryers, computers, refrigerators and freezers, televisions and home entertainment systems. Here are tips:
- Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment and 5°F for the freezer.
- Replace an old refrigerator with a new one with an ENERGY STAR label and save 20% to 40% on refrigerator energy use.
- Use cold water for clothes washing; line dry clothes to reduce energy use and extend the life of
- Better yet, replace the old clothes washer with a new one with an Energy Star label and cut your clothes washing energy use by 50%.
- Up to 10% of home energy is used by electronics that use energy even when they are turned off. These “energy vampires” include televisions, computers, printers and DVD/CD players. Unplug them when not in use, or use a power strip and turn it off at night. Turn off all those blinking digital clocks on your appliances; they use energy too.
- For every degree you lower the thermostat in winter, you can save between 1% and 3% on
your heating bill. A programmable thermostat can make this automatic.
For income-eligible homes in Denver and Jefferson Counties, all of these services – an audit, insulation and air-leaking, and in some cases, an energy efficient furnace – can be provided at NO cost by Veterans Green Jobs, a nonprofit that performs these services with support from the Colorado Energy Office, Xcel Energy and the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships. Households can see if they qualify by calling 720-236-1321 or visiting veteransgreenjobs.org/green-and-healthy-homes.