Here in California, wildfires and rolling blackouts have become an all-too-familiar challenge for many of us. Taking steps to address the threat of climate change has never been more important.
At the same time, homeowners with limited budgets are looking for ways to save on their energy bills, so they will have more money to save and invest for the future.
Making your home more energy-efficient is a great way to do both. In the spirit of National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, which is January 10, here are nine ways to reduce your home’s energy costs and its impact on our planet.
1. Upgrade Your AC
Whether you use window units or central air conditioning, keeping your home cool during warmer months is probably one of your biggest energy expenses. Start by checking the air filters in your air conditioners; replacing a dirty filter can reduce the unit’s energy use by 5% to 15%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you have an old air conditioner, consider replacing it with a newer ENERGY STAR®-certified model, which could help reduce your annual cooling costs by up to 30%.
Want to stay cool and spend even less? Rely more on window and ceiling fans, which use a tiny fraction of the energy needed for an air conditioner.
2. Cut Energy Use at Peak Hours
One big challenge for utility companies is managing energy usage during peak hours. California residents can use a free service called OhmConnect® to reduce their energy use at peak times and potentially get paid for their help. OhmConnect lets you know when energy demand is high, so you can reduce your energy use (helping to cut extra pollution from power plants operating during times of peak energy usage). It’s a great way to help lower the burden on the energy grid while putting a little extra money in your pocket.
3. Switch to a Programmable Thermostat
By programming your thermostat, you can make sure your home stays cool when you need it to be and dial back the energy use when you’re at work or out of town. While programmable thermostats can cost between $25 and $250, they can cut your energy costs by 20% to 30%.
4. Improve Your Yard
Beautify your property while reducing the cost of cooling your home. With energy-friendly landscaping elements like shrubs and shade trees, you may be able to reduce the amount of solar heat absorbed through your windows and roof, which puts less strain on your home cooling system and could lower your electric bill. Conversely, if you live in a cooler climate, maximizing sunlight can help lower your heating bill.
5. Check Windows and Doors
Are your windows keeping the cool air in? If not, it could be costing you. Make sure your windows are sealed and insulated. When it’s hot outside, close the curtains and pull down the blinds. If you use in-room air conditioning, remember to close the doors to rooms you aren’t using, which will help your home cool off faster and cut down on energy used by your air conditioner.
6. Adjust Your Water Heater
Your water heater can account for up to 18% of your home’s energy costs. If your water heater is set to be 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a simple way to save is by lowering the temperature to be 120 degrees. It’s a small adjustment, but one that can save in the long run—and has the added benefit of preventing scalding.
7. Replace Your Appliances
Your dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, and refrigerator all take a lot of energy to run. If your major appliances are over 10 years old, consider upgrading them to an ENERGY STAR-rated model. Your local energy provider may even thank you by providing a rebate.
8. Soak Up Some Sun
Here in sunny California and throughout the country, harnessing solar power has become a practical, money-saving solution for homeowners, as well as a smart way to make their homes less vulnerable to power outages. For many, the only reason not to go solar is the upfront cost. Thanks to our partnership with Energy Loan Network®, USE Credit Union offers 100% financing on solar loans. With low rates and low monthly payments, your investment in solar can pay you back over time.
When you invest in solar, you may also qualify for a valuable federal solar tax credit.1
9. Upgrade Affordably
Here at USE Credit Union, our low-interest credit cards and personal loans can provide a simple way to cover the cost of new appliances or smaller upgrades. For a larger upgrade or home renovation, consider tapping your home equity with a low-rate home equity loan or line of credit. With affordable financing, you’ll have a great way to make your home more cost- and energy-efficient in the future while supporting your budget right now.