New Year’s resolution: Save money by using less energy

Posted December 30, 2014

Turning off the lights when you leave a room is only one way to conserve electricity and save money. Home improvements can also have a positive impact on your energy bill and can even help make you feel more comfortable at home.

“When it comes to New Year resolutions, a lot of people want to lose weight or quit smoking,” said Jason Bohrer, spokesman for the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future. “Both of these require us to change our habits. The same is true for saving on our energy bills. A few simple changes can keep more money in our pockets.”

Adding insulation to your home – especially to your ceiling – can keep heat from escaping. Also, replacing old leaky windows with high energy-efficient windows can make your home more comfortable while saving you money month after month.

“How much you save depends upon how much you are paying for energy,” Bohrer adds. “Electricity and natural gas or propane are often the biggest energy costs homeowners face.”

As a goal for 2015, you may want to consider new ways to reduce your energy use at home. Besides more insulation and new windows, here are some suggestions to consider implementing:

* Energy Star-rated appliances – When an old appliance is worn out, consider replacing it with an Energy Star-rated appliance. The Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collaborated on this rating, which means appliances are more efficient than even the minimum standards they must meet.

* Water-efficient shower heads – Dollar for dollar, it’s hard to beat the return-on-investment from installing a water-efficient shower head. Technology has improved over the past 20 years and today’s versions are better at delivering the same shower feel but with less water. Depending on the size of your family, you will save money year after year by making a small, one-time investment of about $40.

* High tech thermostats – New thermostats take advantage of the latest technology to save users time and money. “Smart”, internet-enabled thermostats learn users’ habits and can integrate with home automation controls or security systems. They can be set to automatically switch a home into energy conservation mode when the occupants are away from the home. Programmable thermostats are a more simple and less expensive option that still can result in large savings. Users can program these thermostats to optimize energy savings to match their comfort levels and schedules. Heating and cooling are the biggest energy users in a typical home. Setting lower temperatures while the house is unoccupied or the occupants are asleep during the winter can save significantly on heating costs; likewise, setting higher temperatures while the house is unoccupied in the summer can reduce cooling costs.

* Next generation lightbulbs – You can increase the everyday lighting efficiency of your home—without sacrificing lighting quality—by replacing incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lightbulbs. CFLs cost a bit more than incandescent lightbulbs but last up to 10 times longer and use up to 75 percent less energy. Today’s CFLs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and wattages and can be used in almost any conventional light socket or lamp. They offer light levels and color quality comparable to incandescent lighting. LEDs are more expensive than CFLs but are more efficient, longer lasting and have superior color quality and require no warm up time. Because year round lighting can account for as much as 25 percent of a home’s electrical use either option can save money in the long run.

* Smart power strips – Plug computers and home electronics into a single smart power strip so they can be turned on and off conveniently with one switch. Phantom energy users, such as digital displays, instant-on features, and battery chargers continue to consume electricity even when they’re in standby mode and can account for 5 percent to 10 percent of your home’s electrical bill. Unplugging them is the most effective way to avoid wasting electricity. Savings add up when you power down.

The Coalition for a Secure Energy Future is dedicated to enhancing, preserving, and protecting our diverse set of energy resources, including coal-based electricity, to ensure a continued affordable and reliable energy supply for families and businesses in Minnesota and North Dakota – now and into the future. See more at: