The Department of Energy reported that the average cost of utilities in American homes is $1,600 a year. How much is it for you? It’s a lot more than that in my home, so anything that you and I can do to bring that figure down makes sense. Right now, many homeowners have seen their mortgage costs going out the roof and are concerned about the struggling economy. For all these reasons, this is a good time to try and bring some of these costs down. If we can spend a little right now to save a lot later, perhaps it’s something we should do.
Lighting. This one is easy, not very expensive, and you can do it yourself. Replace all your light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, also called CFLs. Incandescent bulbs use a lot of unnecessary electricity. The CFLs cost from $4 to $15 apiece but the savings will come to $25 to $30 per bulb over their lifetimes. They outlast incandescent bulbs, so you’re saving in another way: you won’t have to replace them so often.
Windows and Doors. Home heating costs rose almost 10% last year, or so says the Energy Information Administration. The biggest problems are in leaky windows and doors. They drive up our heating and cooling bills without offering any more comfort. Now, replacing doors and windows costs some money, but over the life of the new doors and windows you will save thousands of dollars. They can improve efficiency as much as 70%!
Heating and Cooling Systems. This is another easy one. If you don’t already have one, install a programmable thermostat. With this device, you will be able to automatically reduce the use of the system when you need it less. For example, you don’t need the air conditioner as much at night or when you’re away from home, so program your thermostat to reflect that. On the other hand, if your system is more than ten years old, you might want to consider getting a new one.
Insulation. This is one that will cost a little but not a lot. Upgrade your insulation! Houses as old as 28 years or older are probably not insulated to government standards. If the insulation in your attic is less than 15.5 inches, it’s insufficient. You can install it yourself.