Five ways to save money and the environment
It’s cold out there! The Eastern and Central U.S. are experiencing some of the coldest temperatures of the season… and it’s not even winter yet! The average U.S. family spends more than $2,200 annually on energy bills, with nearly half going to heating and cooling costs. You can cut your energy bills with simple changes that are inexpensive.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program offers five tips to help you cut down heating bills, keep your home comfortable, and protect the environment:
Assess your home. Start with the “Home Energy Yardstick” to compare your home's energy use to similar homes across the country and see how your home measures up. Then, use our “Home Energy Advisor” to get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements for typical homes in your area.
Seal air leaks in your home. Sealing air leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. If you are adding insulation to your home, be sure to seal air leaks first, to ensure you get the best performance from your insulation.
Maintain heating equipment. Dirt and neglect are the number one causes of heating system failure. Maintain your equipment by checking your system’s air filter every month and changing it if it is dirty, or at a minimum changing it every 3 months. Also schedule pre-season checkups of your equipment with a licensed contractor to make sure your system is operating at peak performance.
Use a programmable thermostat. Regulate your home’s temperature while you’re away or asleep by using one of the convenient pre-programmed settings on a programmable thermostat. When used properly, programmable thermostats can save you up to $180 every year in energy costs.
Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products. Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, Energy Star qualified products can help you save energy and cut energy bills. The label can be found on more than 60 types of products ranging from heating and cooling equipment to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Also, look to Energy Star for advice on other ways you can save at home such as using power strips as a central 'turn-off' point for electronics and office equipment, power managing computers and monitors and reversing the blade rotation on ceiling fans to help spread warm air around a room.
If every American household serviced their heating and cooling systems, changed their air filters, sealed and insulated heating and cooling ducts in unfinished areas, and programmed their thermostats for energy savings while they are away or asleep, we could cut energy bills by $14 billion annually and prevent more than 160 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, equivalent to emissions from 14 million cars.