We’re all used to seeing our energy bills fluctuate month-to-month but finding new ways to become more energy-efficient helps to reduce monthly expenses on your home utilities. Cheaper costs allow you to keep more of your hard-earned cash for other means, like taking a vacation or paying off your mortgage faster.
Despite being the nation’s leader in energy production, Texas residents are also using more energy than almost any other state. And with the varying climate throughout the region (it can be anywhere from 36 degrees to over 100, depending on the season), it’s important to understand how to save energy at home, no matter the time of year.
So, what can you do about your energy costs? We’re here to walk you through some of the best home energy saving tips that you can start working on right now.
You’ve probably heard this one before but it’s worth repeating–unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. While keeping your television or computer on standby uses less energy than when it’s powered on, standby mode still uses around $100-worth of power each year. It’s not only the big appliances that you need to think about. Hairdryers, small kitchen appliances, and home stereos all use small amounts of electricity whenever they’re plugged in.
While we’re thinking about appliances, one of the most energy-efficient home improvements that you can make is upgrading your older models for newer, Energy Star machines. Washers, dryers, fridges, and dishwashers all use large amounts of electricity. Ensuring that you have the latest and best energy-saving technology can go a long way to lowering your utility costs.
Switching your electrical appliances doesn’t stop at the bigger items. Changing out your light bulbs for LEDs that use up to 75% less energy than ordinary bulbs, and last 25 times longer, can quickly add up to substantial savings.
Not only will you be saving power at home, but you’ll be keeping extra bulbs out of landfill when you’re only replacing them once or twice a year. And just like with your small appliances, don’t forget to turn off any lights when you leave a room to make the bulbs last even longer and keep your electricity usage minimal.
Another excellent way to reduce electric bills in Texas specifically is to make use of the warmer months and ditch your dryer entirely. If you’re able to, air dry your laundry on a line outside and harness the power of the sun for free! And that’s not all the sun can do for you. For year-round home energy conservation, adding solar panels is something to consider.
Solar panels typically pay for themselves by around year eight after installation and there are several programs throughout the state to help offset the initial costs. Particularly if you’re running a business, Texas offers incentives for energy providers moving towards renewable and efficient sources. But even as a homeowner, you could benefit from buy-back programs where you can sell any unused energy generated by your solar panels to electricity providers.
Heating and Cooling
Most Americans have some type of heating and cooling system in their home, but that’s especially true in a state like Texas. Particularly in the warmer months, keeping your home cool is an important way to ensure that you’re getting enough comfortable sleep and maintaining the structural elements of your property. But all of that air conditioning can quickly add up.
If you’re planning to be away from home, even just during the workday, adjust the thermostat to account for the house being empty. During the winter, 65 to 68 degrees is warm enough to maintain a comfortable temperature, whereas 75 to 78 should be perfect for the summer. Depending on where you live, these ideal home temperature ranges may vary for particularly warmer or colder climates.
Installing a programmable thermostat that can auto-adjust for different schedules or is accessible via a phone app can help save you around 10% on your annual heating and cooling costs. Ensure that any filters on your HVAC system are regularly cleaned (at least every three to six months) so that you’re maximizing your unit’s efficiency and can actually benefit from these savings.
If your home has ceiling fans, don’t forget to reverse them every summer and winter to change the airflow. In summer, keep fans circulating counterclockwise to cool the air in your home. Since heat rises, reverse the fans in winter to recirculate warm air that stays around the ceiling instead of turning up your thermostat.
For extra savings on your heating and cooling, keeping the curtains closed during the day or using large trees around your home to provide shade are both great ways to keep the house at a consistent temperature.
While thick window coverings can provide additional insulation, it’s always important to check for leaking ductwork, drafts, or broken seals around doors and windows at the change of every season. This is one of the best money-saving energy tips that makes a big difference to your energy bills. If outside air is making its way into your home, no amount of shade will ultimately help you! Have your HVAC system professionally checked at least one a year to stay on top of any necessary maintenance.
In older properties, checking for broken seals is even more important. While double-pane windows are typically made from more energy-efficient materials, single-pane windows can easily break down around the edges of the glass and won’t be as insulating as their modern counterparts. Consider upgrading the windows on your home for improved home energy conservation.
It’s not only your home’s overall heating and cooling that you should be thinking about. Your refrigerator and freezer make up a large proportion of your energy usage, since they’re always powered on. Most people don’t realize that their fridges and freezers are set far too cold, which is costing you more money than necessary every day. Set your fridge to around 38 degrees and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. Your food will be just as fresh, but you’ll see some extra savings on your energy bill.
When you’re looking to save money on utilities, it’s easy to focus on electricity and HVAC systems. But you shouldn’t forget about one of the biggest expenses in your home–water.
Using colder water than you ordinarily would is an often-overlooked way to make energy-efficient home improvements. Switch your laundry to the cold cycle, since most of the energy used in washing clothes is spent on heating up that water. Save some additional costs by turning down the temperature in the shower, which can be especially refreshing during warm Texas summers!
Of course, the less water you actually use, the more money you’ll save. Cut your shower time by a few minutes to save around five gallons of water per shower. Wait until you have a full load to run your washer or dishwasher, and don’t forget to turn the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face.
Just like with any ductwork issues, you also want to ensure that you’re regularly checking your bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room for any possible water leaks. Getting these fixed as soon as possible can save more than 20 gallons per leak per day.
Make Your Energy-Saving Efforts Work For You
Once you’ve made a few changes to your home and it becomes more energy efficient, you’ll start to see your utility bills decreasing. So what do you do with those extra dollars?
Opening one of the best savings accounts in Texas with Moody Bank will help you to set aside funds for whatever your goals might be. Whether you’re looking to take early retirement or simply setting aside money for a rainy day, our team will work with you to determine the best fit. Contact us today to get started.