Living in Wisconsin means dealing with long, frigid winters and hot, humid summers. The weather has the largest impact on utility bills, so knowing ways to keep your home’s interior temperature steady can save on energy bills. Cutting back on water usage can also affect your bill totals.
Don’t let your bank account suffer! By understanding a few simple ideas, you can significantly lower your utility bills, plus save water, electricity, and the environment.
Simple Ways to Save on Energy Bills
According to the Department of Energy, about half of a home’s energy bill is due to the cost of heating and cooling. This is the main drain on your energy consumption, so we’ll begin with several ways to keep your house comfortable while saving money. Your air conditioner and furnace will do less work by tightening up your home and keeping the cool and heat inside. This means they’ll consume less energy, and you save on energy bills.
Here are some easy ways to begin:
- Use Nature’s Power
The sun is your greatest source of warmth, and it’s free! The more you can use the sunlight’s heat, the better. During the day in winter, open all the curtains on the south and west sides of your home. Then, once the sun goes down, close everything up again to block the cold.
In the summer, keep the shades closed in any room getting direct sunlight to block the heat. If there is a breeze, open the windows on opposite sides of the house to get a lovely cross-breeze. Consider planting trees on the south and west sides of your home to block cold winds in winter and offer shade in the summer. Doing this can offer up to two percent savings on your monthly energy bills. (Energy bills can average between $500 and $1500)
- Check Your Fireplace
Does your home have a fireplace? If your damper isn’t closed when not used, your money flows right up the chimney. Leaving it open is like leaving a window open and allowing the heat and cool to escape. If you never use the fireplace, consider sealing the flue.
When using your fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening the dampers. There should be one at the bottom of the firebox, too. Reduce the room’s temperature to 60 degrees and allow the fireplace to heat your home for a while. An even better idea is installing a heat-air exchange system to blow all the heat back into the room and save on energy bills.
- Upgrade Your Windows
It doesn’t have to be a strong wind for air to leak through your windows, especially if they are poorly insulated. If you can, upgrade to those that are more energy-efficient.
If your budget doesn’t include new windows, the next best thing is to tape heavy-duty, clear plastic around the entire window in every room. Seal the plastic tightly against each window frame.
Add weather stripping around the front and back doors and insulate around outlets on the outside walls. Wherever air is leaking into your house, energy is leaking out. Heavy window treatments can also help to block air from coming in.
- Put on a Sweater
You probably remember your mom saying this: Put on a sweater if you’re cold! Store your body heat with warmer clothes in the winter. And of course, wear shorts and a cotton shirt in the summer.
Wearing the appropriate clothing will allow you to adjust your home’s temperature and save on energy bills all year round.
- Speaking of Adjusting the Temperature
During the day, as you and your family are moving around the house, or if you aren’t home, set the thermostat to as low as you can comfortably manage in winter (65 to 68 degrees) and as warm as you can handle in the summer (78 to 80 degrees). Even a few degrees will make a huge difference and allow you to save as much as 15% on energy bills.
Turn the thermostat back to a comfortable level when you’re heading to bed. You need to get a good night’s sleep!
Consider installing a Smart Thermostat, which can be controlled by your phone or with the touch of a button.
- Save on Energy Bills by Changing Your Ceiling Fan Direction
Did you know you can change which way your ceiling fan spins? Most people understand that, in summer, ceiling fans are used to keep a room cool. However, ceiling fans switched to run in the forward direction can warm a room.
Heat rises, and so by forcing the warm air down (through thermal destratification), you can make any room feel more comfortable. Set your fan to flow clockwise and at its lowest rotation. This is more energy-efficient and can help save on energy bills.
More Ways to Save on Energy Bills
- Use LED Lights
LED lights last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. It’s a “no-brainer” for homeowners to make the switch. Although you have to spend more initially because they last so long, you won’t have to purchase more lightbulbs again for many years, possibly decades. According to Energy Star, replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can save you $45 a year.
- Wash Clothes in Cool or Cold Water
According to Energy Star, 90% of the energy used to wash clothes in a machine comes from heating the water. Clothes can get just as clean in cold water as in hot water. So, unless the clothes are incredibly soiled, the temperature of the water doesn’t matter.
Save on energy bills by switching to cool or cold water and lower your costs by up to 12%. In fact, cold water is less likely to fade your clothes. Plus, most detergents today are designed to work in temperatures of 86 degrees instead of 120.
To save even more, lower the temperature on the water heater, buy low-flow toilets and showerheads, and take shorter showers.
- Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Old and low-functioning appliances often have to work harder and use more electricity. So, when your washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, or other appliances need replacing, look for one with the Energy Star rating. These are much more energy-efficient and can save on energy bills.
Check out energy.gov and their appliance energy calculator to see how much you can save.
- Turn Things Off to Save on Energy Bills
This may seem like another “no-brainer,” but the best way to lower your electric bill is to turn things off.
Finished making breakfast? Unplug the toaster and the coffee maker. No longer watching television? Turn it off. Not using a room? Turn off the lights. Done with work for the day? Shut down the computer.
Turning things off once you’re no longer using them can save on energy bills more than you realize.
Joseph Douglas Builds Energy-Efficient Homes
Are you thinking about remodeling your current home or building a new house? Do you want more energy efficiency in your residence?
Founded in 1998, Joseph Douglas Homes has been building homes across southeastern Wisconsin with quality craftsmanship, energy efficiency, and to Energy Star standards. Use one of their floor plans or design one of your own.