I am happy to announce that I’m Zillow’s Financial Blogger of the Week! It’s time to talk about how to save on home energy costs all throughout the year.
Below is a guest post by Jay Robert from Zillow.com. It’s now #99 on my Ultimate List of Ways to Save Money.
How to Save on Home Energy Costs Year-Round
Home energy costs — heating in the winter, cooling in the summer and using appliances, electronics and lighting throughout the year — add up substantially. In fact, the average family in a single family home spends $2,200 on energy bills each year, according to Energy Star. What’s more, some families’ heating and cooling bills in especially hot or cold months top their monthly mortgage payments.
The good news: It’s easy to save money on home energy bills all year with these five tips.
Seal and insulate the home
In a badly sealed or insulated home, heat escapes in the winter and cool air escapes in the summer, sending bills sky high. Homeowners can save 10 percent or more on energy bills by properly insulating their homes and sealing cracks and crevices where air leaks in and out, according to Energy Star.
Homeowners can install weather stripping on exterior doors and caulk around windows to prevent leaks. Unless homeowners are handy, they should hire contractors to insulate the attic or seal major air leaks.
Program the thermostat
Homeowners should only heat their houses while home. After all, it’s costly and unnecessary to heat the space when no one is there. Invest in a programmable thermostat to regulate home heating and cooling.
To avoid overspending on heating and cooling costs, keep the temperature around 50 degrees while out of the home in the winter and around 78 degrees in the summer. Program the temperature to adjust around the time residents arrive home each day. Energy Star estimates this can save consumers $180 annually.
Clean HVAC filters
A dirty filter can severely reduce an HVAC system’s efficiency by obstructing the flow of heated or cooled air. In fact, a clean filter can lower energy consumption by 15 percent.
Consumers should change their filters every three months and check the filters monthly. In addition to lowering energy consumption, a clean filter can help prevent dirt and dust buildup that might lead to the system needing costly repairs.
Consider Energy Star appliances
While purchasing new appliances can be costly upfront, the long-term energy and cost savings are a positive return. If a home’s heating and cooling system is 10 years old or older, or isn’t heating and cooling the home well, it may be time to replace it, which can potentially cut a home’s annual energy bill by $200.
Homeowners can also replace dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators and more with Energy Star versions. An alternative to investing in new appliances is to unplug electronics such as computers, stereos and televisions when not in use. It costs the average homeowner $100 per year in energy costs just on items plugged in but not being used.
Shade the windows
Curtains, awnings and blinds all help homeowners keep their homes cool in the summer, thereby reducing the need for full-blast air conditioning. Curtains, especially thick ones with white backings, and blinds help keep a home cool during the summer.
In colder months, draw the shades during the day to let sunlight heat the home, and close them at night to insulate against the temperatures.
In the summer, window awnings cut heat in the home generated by the sun by up to 65 percent in south-facing windows and 77 percent in west-facing windows. Homeowners should consider retractable awnings to allow sunlight into the home in the wintertime.
In conclusion, homeowners can save hundreds of dollars per year on energy costs by making some relatively easy changes. Don’t let the overwhelming costs of energy bills prevent comfort at home.