Taking it easy on the planet can also mean lower utility bills every month. Double score! Whether you rent or own your place, you can still make easy changes to save energy. These five simple ways to make your home more energy efficient may seem like no-brainers, but everyone needs an eco-reminder every once in a while. And, once you master these, then you can get into the really big stuff. You know, like solar panels and water-saving toilets!
Switch your bulbs
If you haven’t switched from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LEDs, what are ya waiting for? CFLs will cost you a bit more, but they last at least six times longer than their incandescent counterparts. Plus, CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, according to Energy Star. Those energy savings will translate to a lower electricity bill. LEDs last even 2 to 5 times longer than CFLs and also use less energy than incandescents. Plus, LEDs don't contain the small amount of mercury like CFLs do, which has caused some concern among consumers.
Besides switching out your bulbs, you can also make good everyday eco-choices to lessen your energy use when it comes to lighting. It may seem like common sense, but don’t turn your lights on during the day. Break that bad habit of flipping on a light whenever you go into a room and use sunlight instead. It’s free! At night, why not go the romantic route and light a few candles instead of using electricity once in a while?
Plug in power strips
Simply adding a power strip to those high traffic areas where you plug in a lot of devices can reduce your energy usage. How? Anything plugged in still sucks up energy, called “vampire energy,” even when turned off. It’s not just a teeny bit of energy, either. The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off or in standby mode, according to Energy Star. Rather than going around and unplugging every cord around your home, you can easily switch off all of your devices at once with just one button on the power strip.
Do laundry at night
Embrace your inner night owl and knock out those chores, or the laundry at least, at night. Your electricity bill will thank you. Doing laundry during “off peak” hours saves energy. While you’re at it, wash your clothes in cold water. It will save your colors and also save you some dough. Want to take it a step further? Give your dryer the cold shoulder and air-dry clothes on a clothesline or drying rack when the weather’s warm.
Adjust your thermostat
Go check your thermostat. Do you think you can handle tweaking it up or down 5-8 degrees, depending on the season? According to Energy Star, heating and cooling your home typically makes up more than 50 percent of your utility bill, so adjusting your thermostat even in small amounts can help save you significant energy—and money. For even more energy savings, invest in a programmable thermostat that automatically regulates your home’s temperature.
Shorten that shower
Hey you beauty queen, take shorter showers (and skip the baths!) and you’ll have extra money to spend! You know, on the essentials—like organic beauty products. If you invest in a low-flow showerhead, you’ll save even more money on your water bill and the additional costs of heating the water. According to Energy Star, using a 2.5 gallon-per-minute (low-flow) showerhead during a 10-minute shower will save about five gallons of water over a typical bath.
image: adapted from Tiago Daniel