In today’s challenging economic climate there are many ways to save money and move towards a rewarding green lifestyle at the same time. While the larger, Government sponsored, projects require huge upfront costs that may take years to recover, most individual, environmentally friendly products repay their upfront cost very quickly with the day to day savings in operating costs that they provide.
Using a programmable thermostat to manage the temperature in the home can produce significant savings whether heating or cooling. The ideal unit should provide the flexibility to program each day of the week and allow four different settings per 24 hour period. Home energy use can then be optimized by programming a heating or cooling pattern that fits the family lifestyle. In the heating mode this might mean warmer in the early morning, cooler during the day when out at work or working around the home, warmer in the evening while sitting down to dinner, reading or watching TV and cooler during the night while tucked up warm in bed. Managing heating and cooling costs in this way can save 20% to 30% on home energy bills.
Check on attic insulation and increase it up to 12 inches in depth. This can save on heating costs by up to 20% and cooling costs by 10%. Install any additional insulation at right angles to the previous layer. When shopping for insulation look for the R-value, this measures the level of thermal resistance provided, the higher the R-value the better the insulation provided. An unheated basement will also rob the house of heat so install blanket insulation between exposed floor joists.
Control ‘Standby’ Electric Use
Computers and TVs continue to use energy while in standby mode after they have been turned off. At present there is no way to accurately estimate the energy waste that the standby mode generates but it has been estimated that it represents about 10% of an average home energy cost. If these appliances are turned off while not in use the cost savings can be meaningful. There are now power strips available that ‘sense’ the flow of electricity and when the computer or TV is turned off, it automatically shuts down all peripheral devices also plugged into the strip.
Reduce Water Usage
Water is not overly expensive in the US at present, but it is likely to become more so as we continue to put pressure on the available water resources available to us. There are many ways to reduce water usage in the home, without any deterioration in lifestyle.
Replacing old showerheads with new, efficient low flow designs maintains the quality of the shower experience while significantly reducing water usage. Newer designs are also incorporating a pause feature which reduces the flow even further while lathering up or shampooing the hair. As they use less hot water they reducing the demand on the water heater and therefore also save on heating costs. Showerheads are inexpensive, easy to install and will pay for themselves very quickly.
Run the dishwasher only when it is full and then on its energy-saver mode. Once again, this will save water and energy, reducing monthly bills.
Individual home solar power is becoming much more viable as leasing programs gradually expand across the country. These programs remove the high initial cash payment that make the move to solar power unmanageable for most homeowners. The leasing structure produces a monthly lease payment that combined with the reduced utility bill, results in an overall monthly payment that is less than the prior stand alone utility bill. Solar power is the ultimate clean energy and individual home solar power is even better than utility company based power as there are no transmission downsides.
So make a move to the Green side and save money in the process. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Peter O’Grady is the owner of It’s Eco Time.com and writes on a variety of subjects involving our impact on the environment and the options available for living a healthy and sustainable green lifestyle. To preview products to save money, energy and water; and for other green topics visit http://itsecotime.com and share your comments and questions.
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