Have you noticed that your energy bill seems higher compared with the past years? There are a variety of factors that caused our utility bills to steadily rise, leaving many houses, specifically low-income houses in the US, out of budget. Some of the reasons propelling the electric bill to rise are the dramatic increase in energy prices with the high cost of natural-gas prices (note that our country gets about 40% of its power from natural gas plants), the pandemic, and even Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is common for electric bills to rise during winter, but this winter is different. In an article by Wall Street Journal, it was said that some consumers have seen “winter power bills to increase by 20% or more compared with the year before, in addition to higher home-heating bills”. It is no wonder that households are looking for ways to reduce their energy bills by improving home energy efficiency.
Winter has just passed, and surely the full impact of energy cost was felt by homeowners trying to keep their homes at a comfortable and safe temperature. With the high energy cost of winter, it is safe to assume that people are welcoming the warmer and more pleasant weather of spring. Not only can spring be a time for spring cleaning and home improvements but homeowners could take advantage of nature’s gift (open the windows for natural breeze to come in) and find ways to cut off some energy costs. Same Day Pros is of course here to help you save up with some easy energy-saving tips for homes this spring. Some of the things that you can do to lower energy costs are by servicing your air conditioner, checking the seals around your doors and windows, upgrading your windows or installing window treatments, using your ceiling fans, taking advantage of natural lights, properly setting the thermostat, investing in energy-saving lighting and more. In addition to saving money, don’t forget that you are also contributing to protecting the planet as well, so let’s start with energy-saving this spring!
The energy-saving tips and strategies that we will share for spring (and could also be applicable during the summer season) are cost-free or inexpensive and some could be done on a daily basis to help in decreasing your energy cost. For some of the tips, you may be shelling out some money, especially when involving professionals or upgrading your system, but you will still be saving in the long run.
If you want to start cutting energy costs, read on.
9 Energy Saving Tips for Homes During Spring:
- Have a home energy audit
Many homeowners don’t realize, but small issues in our home matter, especially if you add one thing to another, could end up being a big dent in your home budget. This is especially true when it comes to your electricity. For example, you are still using incandescent lights, your appliances are plugged in 24/7 even when not in use (hello, phantom loads) or you have air drafts around the house, and many more. A home energy audit will be able to spot which areas around your home are losing electricity. You can do a DIY home energy audit, but it is best to call in the professionals so that they could also recommend ways to improve your home energy efficiency. An assessment of your energy usage is critical if you want to lower your energy use.
If you have high utility bills month after month, a professional auditor will surely be able to identify the areas of your house that are racking in energy and spot all possible issues, and reverse them.
If you decided to go for a DIY home energy audit, here are some areas to check and what you can do once issues are spotted:
- Your HVAC system and equipment (replace filters, if you have a unit older than 15 years, replace them with newer and more energy-efficient models, check for leaks, etc.)
- Appliances and electronics (unplug appliances when not in use, consider replacing older appliances, check the energy usage of your appliances/electronics)
- Insulation (make sure that your attic, inside walls, and basement, are well insulated)
- Air sealing (check for air leaks and seal)
- Lighting (switch to LED lights, use dimmer switches if possible)
- Windows and doors (check for cracks and gaps, make sure to use weather stripping for your door’s edges)
- Service your air conditioner
Make sure that your air conditioner unit is well maintained. Aside from calling in your local professional for maintenance or repair if necessary, you can also do some regular maintenance by yourself, such as cleaning or replacing your air filters. Aside from cleaning the filters, make sure to add to your spring-cleaning list to check and clean your air conditioner’s evaporator coil to ensure that your system is working optimally.
If in case you are planning to replace your unit, make sure to choose a unit with a high energy efficiency ratio (EER). In addition, make sure that the size of your room matches the unit’s cooling capacity. If your unit is too small for your room, it will have to exert more effort (thus higher energy consumption) to cool the room.
Did you know? Cleaning your air filters can lower your unit’s consumption by up to 15%!
- Check the seals around your doors and windows
The harsh winter weather may have damaged the seals around your home’s windows and doors, allowing air to escape. You may not realize it but the gaps in your windows and doors are costing you a lot. In fact, the US Department of Energy said that sealing any drafts or leaks can save you between 5-30% in energy costs per year. So make sure to add in your spring home improvement to inspect and seal your doors and windows if needed.
This is an easy fix; all you need is caulk or weatherstripping materials to block those unwanted gaps. This is also in preparation for the summer season, as it will help ensure that the cold air remains inside and the hot air won’t seep through.
In case your window seal is beyond repair, make sure to call a home window replacement service provider for window replacement. This may seem like a costly route, but this will pay off in the long run, as it will surely increase the energy efficiency in your home and even increase the resale value if you are planning to sell your home in the future.
- Upgrade your windows or install window treatments
Though spring is a good time to open your windows and use the natural light to use less energy for lighting or allow the breeze to come in to reduce the use of air conditioner, it could also raise your home’s temperature by allowing too much heat to come in. If this is happening in your home, you can avoid bringing in unwanted heat and reduce your energy bill by choosing a window treatment or covering. Some window treatments that you can use are blinds, shades, window films, curtains and drapes, and window quilts.
- Use ceiling fans and exhaust fans
Ceiling fans were introduced in US homes during the 1920s and have since then been cooling homes even with the proliferation of air condition use. If you use your ceiling fans, it can help you raise your thermostat four degrees and lower your electricity bills over time without sacrificing comfort. Tip: Make sure your ceiling fan is turned in the correct direction – during warmer weather, it should turn counterclockwise so that the current pushes cool air down. If you are also not in the room, make sure to turn off your ceiling fan to save energy.
Aside from your ceiling fans, you can also use your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fan to help suck the heat and humidity out of your indoor living spaces, improving comfort.
- Take advantage of natural light
Spring is simply the perfect time to open those windows, and enjoy the view and the breeze, while at the same time reducing your usage of artificial lighting, in addition to naturally cooling your home without having to switch on the air conditioner.
- Cook outdoors
Spring is a great time for some family bonding through cooking outdoors before the heat of the summer rolls in. You may not realize this but whenever you cook in an indoor kitchen, it isn’t only the stove or oven that you are heating. You are also increasing the temperature of adjacent rooms, which can lead to more air conditioner usage.
So, heat those outdoor grills, enjoy the view, and have fun with your family while at the same time conserving energy.
- Properly set the thermostat
Did you know that using a programmable thermostat can reduce your cooling and heating costs by 10% annually? To make the most of your thermostat, make sure that you set it according to your family’s schedule. For example, on a warm spring day, set your thermostat to a higher setting when you’re not at home to prevent your air conditioner unit from cooling an empty space, and run your HVAC system to your preferred setting when your family is at home.
If you also have a smart thermostat, even if the spring weather could be unpredictable, you can simply use your smartphone to adjust the setting even if you are not in the house.
- Invest in energy-saving lighting
This is one spring home improvement that you can easily do. If you still have incandescent bulbs, switch to LED lights. Why? 10 % of the energy consumed by incandescent lights is for light, but the rest of the 90% is turned to heat. So in reality, you are paying for less light and more heat in your home. In contrast, LED lights can reduce your energy expenditure by 75%! Plus, LED lights actually last longer, about 30x longer than an incandescent bulb. That’s a huge savings.
Also, if not in use, don’t forget to turn off the lights, and if you have windows or skylights, opt for natural light during the spring season.
In addition to all these energy tips, in case you notice any electrical issues, especially during energy audits (or as recommended by your professional energy auditor), make sure to call in your trusted licensed electrician to do those important repairs and fixes. Remember, if your home electrical components are well-maintained and in top shape, savings will also follow.
Need a licensed electrician near you? Click here and let Same Day Pros help you.
- Have a home energy audit