7 Unconventional Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs
Cutting energy costs can feel daunting, but there are many clever and unconventional ways to reduce your energy usage and save money. Here are 7 unconventional tips for cutting your energy costs:
1. Unplug Devices When Not in Use
This may seem obvious, but many of us leave devices constantly plugged in and drawing phantom energy load. Unplugging unused electronics and appliances when they’re not in use can make a surprising dent in your energy costs over time. Some top offenders to unplug:
- Chargers when not charging devices
- Small kitchen appliances when not in use
- Electronics that go into sleep mode but still use energy like TVs, stereos, and computers
Getting in the habit of unplugging the little things can reduce your phantom energy load by 10-20% or more!
2. Use Power Strips and Smart Power Bars
Power strips and advanced “smart” power bars make it easy to completely cut power to a group of devices with the flip of a switch.
- Use basic power strips to manually turn off power to a group of related devices like home entertainment centers or desk appliances.
- Smart power bars take it a step further by using timers, sensors and app connectivity to automatically disconnect idle devices.
Grouping devices into power strips for easy on/off access is an effortless way to eliminate phantom loads.
3. Seal Air Leaks with Caulk
Air leaks can sneak away energy through cracks and gaps in your home’s envelope. An inexpensive tube of caulk can plug many of these gaps, keeping your heated or cooled air where it belongs.
Some common problem areas for air leaks:
- Around windows, doors, pipes and outlets
- Attic hatches
- Behind wall plates/outlets
- Fireplace dampers
Caulking and weatherstripping air leaks can reduce heating & cooling costs by up to 30%
4. Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
Programmable thermostats make it easy to set different target temperatures for different times of day. Smart thermostats take convenience a step further with features like wi-fi control, integrations with smart home devices, and learning capabilities that optimize your temperature schedule for you.
- Programmable thermostats allow you to set more energy efficient temperatures when you are asleep or away from home
- Smart thermostats can fine tune temperature schedules room-by-room and self-program based on your usage patterns
Installing a programmable or smart thermostat can reduce heating costs by 8-15% annually.
5. Insulate Hot Water Pipes
Insulating hot water pipes reduces heat loss as water travels from your water heater to faucets and appliances. The easiest approach is to buy pre-split pipe foam insulation that wraps around pipes and seals with adhesive. Use it to insulate:
- Hot and cold water pipes
- Water heater pipes
- Exposed drainage pipes
Insulating water pipes can shave 3-4% from your water heating costs
6. Switch to LED Light Bulbs
Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs can drastically reduce lighting energy usage. LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
- Replace frequently used bulbs with LEDs first
- Choose ENERGY STAR rated LED bulbs for the highest efficiency
- Consider smart LEDs that can change color temperature
Switching entirely to LED lighting can reduce lighting electricity usage by 50% or more!
7. Seal Heat Loss Through Windows
Heat escaping through windows is a major form of energy loss. Sealing leaky windows with weatherstripping is a good first step, but plastic film window kits provide even better insulation.
The kits use clear plastic film mounted with double sided tape and a hair dryer to seal windows. They provide an extra barrier against drafts and are relatively easy to install each winter.
Window insulation film can reduce heat loss through windows by up to 50%
By taking these unconventional and clever steps, you can significantly reduce your home’s energy usage without sacrificing comfort or conveniece. Small changes can add up to big energy savings over time.