Congratulations! You have just bought a house! Now you need to start saving for that planned renovation! Where to find the extra money? Utility bills seem to go up every year—and every year we hear the call to save our nation’s natural resources. Financial management site Quicken.com suggests seven tips to save energy and save money by reducing your electric, gas, and water bills while helping to save our planet in the bargain:
- Pull the plug. Appliances that have a clock or operate by remote, as well as chargers, suck electricity even when not in use. In fact, of the energy used to run home electronics, 40 percent is consumed when the appliances are off—so pull the plug when not in use. (This is probably my favorite of the seven tips to save energy.)
- Insulate the water heater. The newest models have plenty of insulation, but if yours is vintage 2004 or earlier, the Department of Energy suggests that you wrap it in an insulating jacket and save 10 percent—about $30 a year—on your water heating bill. (My hot water heater needs to be insulated!)
- Set the washer to cold. Use cold water to wash clothes and save 50 percent of the energy you would use for hot water. Also, set your dryer on the moisture sensor, not the timer, and cut energy use by 15 percent. (I am not sure that I will follow this one of the seven tips to save energy!)
- Go low-flow. Older shower heads send as many as 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm) down the drain. The new fixtures go as low as 1.5 gpm, saving 7,300 gallons and $30 – $100 a year. (I am definitely not doing this!)
- Run full loads. Run full loads of clothes and dishes. Most of the energy used is to heat a set amount of water, so running smaller loads wastes both energy and water. Also, air-dry dishes for added energy savings. (This may be the easiest of all the seven tips to save energy! I never do small loads because I so dislike unloading the dishwasher!)
- Retrofit your faucets. Consider faucet aerators, which screw into your faucet threading and cut the water flow from 3 – 4 gallons per minute. Aerators blend water and air, reducing the flow without sacrificing pressure. At $0.50 – $3 apiece, the devices are some of the cheapest green gadgets available. (This may be the least expensive of the seven tips to save energy!)
- Go drip. For gardens, consider installing a drip irrigation system, which maintains moisture in the soil. Drip irrigation can reduce water loss by 50 – 60 percent when compared with hand-watering or sprinkler systems.