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Keeping Energy Costs Low

Develop a plan to keep your energy costs low.

Energy costs are rising, causing you to pay more out of pocket to live comfortably in your home. Maximizing energy usage, using efficient appliances and alternative energy sources are ways to keep your energy costs down. Develop a plan to reduce your energy costs with the helpful tips below.

The first step to lowering energy costs is to obtain a home energy audit. A basic assessment completed by a home energy professional is relatively inexpensive and can provide homeowners with a Home Energy Score that details energy use and recommendations for lowering costs and improving efficiency. Visit energy.gov to learn more about what a home energy audit entails and how to find a home energy professional in your area.

Following a home energy audit, take a look at these areas to conserve energy and cut costs: 

  • Weatherizing your home
  • Efficiently heating and cooling
  • Maximizing energy with current appliances
  • Energy storage and backup power

Heating and cooling your home takes a significant amount of energy and typically accounts for a third of total energy usage. Programming your thermostat, or using a smart thermostat, can help to save money by controlling and regulating the temperature in your home. Energy.gov states that homeowners “...can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by turning [the] thermostat down 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day in the fall and winter; turn it up in the spring and summer.” Many smart thermostats can track and provide insights on energy usage that you can review and use to manage your energy. Additionally, using the right-sized energy-efficient air conditioner can help lower usage and costs. If the unit is too small, it may be working too hard. 

An additional and efficient way to cool the home is to use fans. Using fans allows you to turn up the thermostat a few degrees, meaning that the larger units don’t have to work as hard. To use fans efficiently, make sure that the fan is moving in the correct direction. The fan should move counterclockwise to create a wind chill effect and move clockwise to pull warm air down. 

Maximize Energy With Appliances

When purchasing new, consider smart appliances that automatically monitor your home’s energy use and provide recommendations for energy savings. Look for appliances with an ENERGY STAR label because they have been independently certified to save energy. The federal government has standards for efficiency and quality, and any that exceed those standards receive an ENERGY STAR label. 

If you’re not looking to purchase new appliances, there are steps you can take to use current appliances more efficiently. Minor adjustments to the way appliances are run and operated can add up both in energy and cost savings. Take a look at the appliances below to see tips and tricks on how to maximize energy.

Dishwasher

Only run the dishwasher once it’s full to reduce the number of times it’s ran. Once the load is complete, consider letting the dishes air dry instead of using the heat-dry setting. 

Refrigerator and Freezer

Program the refrigerator temperature to 35°-38°F and the freezer to 0°F. Keep the refrigerator doors closed as much as possible and ensure they’re sealing correctly. To check this, place a piece of paper between the door and the seal. When the door is closed, you should not be able to pull the it out.

Lights

Using a LED or compact fluorescent bulb can save you about $55 in electricity costs over its lifetime. The energy-efficient bulbs will have the ENERGY STAR label on the packaging. Turn off lights when not in use, use timers and use dimmable switches to conserve energy. 

Electronics

According to the US Department of Energy,homeowners can save up to $100-$200 a year by unplugging devices when not in use. Using advanced power strips that have remotes or turn them off will help prevent energy from being used.

Energy Storage and Backup Power

With rising energy costs, peak demand increases and severe weather continuing to place stress on the power grid, energy storage is becoming increasingly popular to combat grid instability and save on energy costs. An energy storage system creates power resilience on or off the grid by collecting, storing and utilizing energy when needed. Power sources such as utility, generator, solar or wind can create energy and then be stored in the system’s high-capacity batteries. The stored energy can provide critical backup, supplement an existing electrical system or be a primary power source for a home or business. 

Time-of-use (TOU) is gaining popularity as utility companies adopt a rate structure that charges more for energy during high-demand periods. Using an energy storage system to peak shave is a way to combat expensive TOU charges. Peak shaving means reducing power consumption from the utility when peak rate periods are in place. Configure your system to pull power from the grid during low-demand times to charge the batteries and store energy. The stored energy can then be utilized during expected peak rate periods to lower overall energy costs. 

With the inconsistency of the power grid, many homeowners are vulnerable to power outages. A power outage can cost homeowners upwards of $20,000 between flooding repairs, hotel stays and replacing spoiled food. Install a home standby generator for backup power to keep your essentials running during a power outage or severe weather. A standby generator will kick on automatically when power from the grid is unavailable, minimizing downtime and disruption. Being prepared for an outage can put money back in your pocket and ensure you continue to live comfortably in your home when power from the grid is unavailable. 

Whether you’re making updates to your home and appliances, changing habits within your household, or investing in your true power independence with energy storage and backup power, there are many options to keep energy costs down. Stay up to date with the latest tips and trends by visiting energy.gov and reading the Energy Saver Guide.

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