“We all recognize that we have to replace our cars and computers, and people love to do that,” he says. “But most people have really old insulation – and it’s really beaten down and it’s not doing them any good.”
The cost of sealing leaks or updating insulation varies greatly depending on where you live and the complexity of the job. But “the energy you save from doing this work will more than cover the cost of the work itself,” Stefan says.
Such steps tend to be considerably cheaper than, for instance, replacing leaky windows, another energy-saving step. That could run into the tens of thousands of dollars – although it often could be avoided simply by hanging storm windows in the winter, experts say.
Many state-run energy savings programs offer homeowners low-interest loans to help upgrade energy efficiency, Stefan says.
Another way to cut energy consumption is to unplug all those “energy vampires” that suck up electricity even when they’re not being used, says Ken Collier, editor-in-chief at The Family Handyman.
A typical American home has 40 devices, including TVs, cell-phone chargers and computers, that continually draw power even when they seem to be turned off, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year – roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs – to power such devices while not in use. Collier says the expense could be closer to $70 a month.
The easiest way to eliminate those costs is to plug your devices into power strips and turn those power strips off when you wrap things up for the day, he says. Another good option is a product called Smart Strip, which looks like a regular power strip but automatically turns off equipment that it senses is not being used.
Using a programmable thermostat and switching to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs also can yield substantial savings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Today’s appliances are 40 percent more efficient than those just 14 years old, Stefan says. That’s especially important with big energy suckers like refrigerators, which typically use more energy than anything else in the house.
As for light bulbs, Stefan says, only 6 percent of the electricity drawn by traditional bulbs is turned into light. The rest becomes heat.<< previous 1 2