How to Drastically Cut Your Energy Usage Without Making Any Real Changes
Audit Your Home’s Energy Use
The first step is to understand where and how you are using energy in your home. Here are some ways to audit your home’s energy use:
- Examine your utility bills to see when your usage tends to spike. This can help identify areas to target.
- Conduct an appliance audit. Make a list of all electric appliances and devices. Estimate how many hours per day/week each gets used. Identify the biggest energy hogs.
- Check for air leaks. On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to windows, doors, electrical sockets, plumbing fixtures, etc. to check for airflow. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal leaks.
- Inspect insulation. Check the attic, walls, crawl spaces, and basement. Add insulation wherever needed.
- Have an energy audit done. Many utility companies offer free or low-cost audits to identify energy waste. An expert can inspect leaks, insulation, appliance efficiency, etc.
Focusing on the biggest energy drains first will lead to the fastest savings. Even small fixes add up.
Set Your Thermostat Strategically
Heating and cooling account for a huge chunk of home energy bills. You can maintain comfort while cutting energy use through smart thermostat settings:
- Lower the thermostat 7-10°F when away from home or sleeping. Use a programmable or smart thermostat.
- Set the thermostat as high as comfortably possible in summer. 78°F is recommended.
- In winter, keep temperatures between 68-70°F during awake hours.
- Ensure there is no direct sunlight on the thermostat to avoid false readings.
- Close vents and doors to unused rooms. No need to cool/heat them.
- Make sure ceiling fans spin clockwise in winter, counter-clockwise in summer.
Small thermostat adjustments make a big difference! Lowering heating by just 1°F could save up to 5% on bills.
Use Appliances Strategically
These tips will help cut major appliance energy use:
- Wash clothes in cold water. Use hot water only for very dirty loads.
- Only run dishwasher when fully loaded. Avoid heat drying.
- Refrigerator should be set between 35-38°F. Freezer at 0°F.
- Clean refrigerator coils yearly to maximize efficiency.
- When cooking, match burner size to cookware. Use lids to retain heat.
- Microwave is more efficient than oven for small portions.
- Unplug rarely used appliances like toaster ovens.
- Plug entertainment systems into power strips for easy shutdown.
Also, replace any aging, inefficient appliances with ENERGY STAR models. New ones offer big energy savings.
Shift Energy Use to Non-Peak Hours
Time of day matters when it comes to energy costs. Here’s how to optimize for off-peak hours:
- Set dishwasher, washing machine, etc. to run late at night.
- Charge devices and run robots/vacuums overnight.
- Use a timer for outdoor lights and other devices to restrict usage to nighttime hours.
- Take advantage of your utility’s time-of-use pricing. Shift usage to lower rate periods.
- If you have an electric vehicle, charge it after-hours when rates and demand are lowest.
Avoid using major appliances between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays, the typical peak.
Change Your Lighting
It’s easy to reduce energy spent on lighting:
- Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs. They use at least 75% less energy.
- Install dimmers, motion sensors, timers to ensure lights get turned off.
- Maximize use of natural light through positioning and use of skylights.
- Paint walls and ceilings light colors to reflect more natural light.
- Make sure outdoor lighting points downwards and has a photocell shut off.
Also, don’t forget small savings like turning off lights in unused rooms! Lighting alone can account for 10-25% of bills.
Improve Your Water Heating Efficiency
Heating water is the #2 energy user in most homes. Try these tips:
- Set water heater temperature to 120°F max. Each 10°F reduction saves 3-5% energy.
- For tank models, drain 1-2 gallons from spigot regularly to prevent sediment buildup.
- Insulate accessible hot water pipes to reduce standby losses.
- Install heat traps on hot and cold inlet/outlet pipes if not already present.
- Consider tankless water heater. More efficient, but upfront cost is higher.
- When replacing your water heater, buy the most energy efficient one that meets your needs.
Also reduce hot water use by taking shorter showers, fixing leaks, installing low-flow fixtures, etc.
Bonus: Renewable Energy
For maximum impact, also consider adding renewable energy:
- Solar panels can drastically cut electricity costs over time, with various financing options.
- Heat pump systems provide heating, cooling and hot water from electricity.
- In suitable climates, passive solar design includes strategic window placement, solar tubes, etc.
- Depending on location, geothermal, micro wind turbines or micro hydro systems may be viable.
- Many areas allow powering your home from community solar arrays.
Clean renewable energy helps slash your energy bills for years to come!
With some low-or-no cost strategies centered on efficiency and conservation, it’s entirely possible to drastically cut home energy usage without changing your lifestyle. Small steps make a big difference, so start with the easiest fixes first. Conducting an energy audit reveals your home’s biggest areas of waste.