Reducing Your Household Bills and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Simple Steps for Cutting Your Monthly Bills
and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint



A combination of reducing your environmental impact, decreasing your dependence on outside resources, living healthier and saving money!



Other tips to conserve and save ...

The Easiest Vegetables To Grow In Your Own Garden


Tips on Saving Money on Gas


Conserving Water


Make your own Cleaning Supplies


Nobody expects you to implement all of the below measures in your home. Following only a few of those steps will save you money, and you can integrate more over time. Of course, the more of the below recommendations you follow, the greater your savings ...

  • It isn't small change either! Did you know that running your central air can cost you over $3,000 a year? It doesn't have to, and you can still be as comfortable as before ... read on ...


Effective ways to cut down on your electric bills:

General Recommendations:

  • Unplug appliances when not in use. All those little gadgets you keep plugged in are wasting energy and costing you money. It is estimated that all these devices make up about 5 percent of your bill!
    • Tip: You may want to consider using a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
  • Water Heater: Reduce your water heating bill by 10 percent by lowering the water heater temperature from 140°F to 120F°. Once a year, drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the water heater tank. This gets rid of sediment, which can waste energy by blocking the water in the tank from the heating element. Locate water heaters as close to the points of hot water usage as possible. The longer the supply pipe, the more heat that is lost.
    • For older water heaters, consider buying a water heater insulation kit, which reduces the amount of heat lost through the walls of the tank.
    • Tankless Water Heaters: For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, Tankless Water Heaters can be 24% – 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8% – 14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water, around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve an even greater energy savings of 27% – 50% if you install a Tankless Water Heater at each hot water outlet.
  • Consider alternative energy sources:

    • Go Solar! Utilize sun energy to meet your energy needs and cut down on the cost of electricity! You can "juice" up your cell phones, even your laptops -- cook with inexpensive solar cookers, heat / cool - in fact, the sun can provide energy for your entire house. This is no longer a "camping" convenience, but many people are seeking independence from utility companies and GO SOLAR.
  • Choose Energy-saving Appliances:

    • Energy Star: You may want to consider replacing your old appliances with Energy Star appliances. Energy Star appliances are intended to exceed energy efficiency levels of other products by 20 to 75 percent.
      • It is estimated that the average household could save $400 a year just by using Energy Star appliances.

    • Computers:
      • You may also want to consider replacing the old bulky computer monitor you have in the home office with a flat panel computer screen which uses a third of the electricity of regular computer monitors.
      • Do not use a screen saver when your computer monitor is active. Instead, let it switch to sleep mode or turn the monitor off.

    • TVs: If you are planning to purchase a big screen TV, consider a an LCD - as it uses half the energy of a plasma TV.

    • Making your Printer Cartridge Last Longer: Many printer companies are tricking you into buying cartridges more frequently than is really necessary. In fact, class action lawsuits have been filed against a well-known manufacturer of printers because of that. There are tricks for you to make cartridges last longer:
      • Shake them! When the print becomes weak, take the cartridge out and shake it. Put it back in and chances are that you will have extended the life of the cartridge by at least a week or longer!
      • Some cartridges have sensors and printing will cease even though there is a good amount of ink still in the cartridge. Cover the sensor on the side of the toner cartridge with a piece of electrical tape and you will find that you can print hundreds of pages before the ink is indeed out.
      • Recyle: For the sake of the environment, always find a good recycling center. Having your cartridges refilled, instead of buying new ones, will also save money and be environmentally responsible.


Laundry:

  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.
    • As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water. I found that my clothes get just as clean. I only wash really dirty towels in warm water.
  • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
    • If you can't live without the convenience of a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time.
  • Energy-saving Appliance: If you are in the market for a new washing machine, consider using a front-loading or horizontal axis machine. These use 30 percent less water and 50 percent less energy to make hot water and wash clothes than regular washing machines.




The cost of running the following appliances 24 hours a day
Unit ~ Cost Per Year
Central Air

$3,080

Medium-sized Window Unit

$790

52* Ceiling Fan

$80

36" Ceiling Fan

$48

Air Conditioning / Heating:

  • Did you know that running the air conditioner at 70 F as opposed to 78 F almost doubles your cooling bill?
    • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • For even greater savings, turn off the air conditioning / heating when you are not at home; or set your air conditioner on either 80 or 85.
    • You could use a timer to get it to turn on before you come home.

  • According to Energy Star, the average house loses up to 20 percent of its heat or air-conditioning leakage from air ducts alone. So it's important to repair leaky ducts and seal drafty doors, windows and baseboards. An easy way to figure out where the leaks may be, is to light a candle or some incense near your windows and doors and see where the flame flickers.
    • Reducing drafts in a home could save you up to 30 percent on your utility bill annually.

  • 2% off your annual cooling / heating bill can be saved by replacing / cleaning your filter regularly

  • Fix unfilled gaps and cracks in the foundation, around windows, doors and vents that allow cool air to escape in the summer and heated air in the winter resulting in higher electric bills. In fact, a 1/8 inch opening around just two door frames can let in as much cold air as a 12 inch window opened 6 inches all winter long. Caulk is used around outside window and door frames, and to fill outside wall and foundation cracks. The money you spend on caulking or weatherstripping is usually recovered in one heating season or less.
    • Leaky windows or doors are easily fixed. Materials You'll Need:
      • Wire brush or rag
      • Elmer's Squeez'N Caulk
      • Elmer's Carpenter's Exterior Wood Filler (if neccessary)
    • 1st Step: You must have a clean joint. Therefore, clean away all old caulk and loose paint with a wire brush or rag. Remember to remove any dirt or dust as you want the caulking to stick to the wood or paint.
    • 2nd Step: Using Elmer's Squeez'N Caulk lay a uniform wide bead that overlaps both sides for a good seal.
    • 3rd Step: Finish the surface with a moistened finger if you prefer a smooth finish.
    • Tip: If the joint is larger than the 3/8" head of Elmer's Squeez'N Caulk, use Elmer's Carpenter's Exterior Wood Filler before caulking. (Courtesy of Elmer's Glue www.elmers.com)

  • You might consider replacing your old system with an Energy Star-labeled heating / cooling system, which can save hundreds of dollars in utility bills.
    • Look for a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of at least 13 on air conditioning units and an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of at least 90 on furnaces.

  • Install a Thermostat: Tremendous savings also can be found by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat, such as the Lennox SignatureStat Home Comfort Control, which not only reduces energy costs by automatically controlling the temperature at certain times of the day but can also add or remove humidity, depending on the homeowners desired comfort level.

  • Attic Insulation: Adding insulation to the attic is an effective, inexpensive and easy way to increase energy efficiency and provide an extended barrier against the elements. Although the attic may have some insulation, if there is less than five inches, it's a good idea to add more.

  • Roofing Material: For additional energy savings, consider using ENERGY STAR labeled roofing products, sometimes known as cool roofs, which reflect the sun's rays to keep the roof and house cooler and decrease air conditioning usage.

  • Ceiling Fans: Turning up the thermostat by just two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower AC costs by up to 4-6 percent over the course of the cooling season. Don't forget to turn the ceiling fan off when you leave the room.
    • If your ceiling fan has a switch that allows you to reverse the motor, you can operate the fan at a low speed in the opposite direction. This forces warm air near the ceiling down into the living space. In the summer, run the blades counter-clockwise (downward) to cool more efficiently.
  • During heat spells, draw the shades during the day - if possible in every room. This will prevent the sunlight to heat up your home.

  • In the winter, the air is normally dry inside our homes and we typically require a higher temperature to be comfortable than we would in a humid environment. Therefore, efficient humidifiers are a good investment for energy conservation.

  • Solar Window Film conserves energy in both the summer and the winter. In summertime, it reflects thermal energy, as well as a percentage of UV rays back outdoors. In the wintertime, it minimizes warm air transference to the outside world. It's estimated that as much as 70% of a home's heat escapes via contractor grade windows.
    • Double and triple glazed windows are a great choice for new construction or when it comes to using a remodeling contractor to upgrade. The downside is the high cost of both the windows and the window installation labor costs.
  • Dress appropriately for the heat of the summer or the cold in the winter. Putting on a warm sweater, or snuggling up with a warm blanket, instead of turning up the heat will result in big savings.

  • Landscaping: Trees, vines and other shrubs around a house can provide shade that will keep the home cooler and reduce your overall utility bills.
The cost of running the following appliances 24 hours a day
Unit ~ Cost Per Year
100 Watt Lightbulbs

$88

60 Watt Lightbulbs

$50

Compact Fluorescent Light

$16


Fluorescent Lighting:

Compact fluorescent light bulbs are an increasingly popular way to save energy. This will also lower your cooling bills in the summer, as they don't emit heat, like the regular bulbs.

  • They use up to 75 percent less electricity.
  • They also last about 10 times longer.

One concern was the improper disposal of the bulbs, which creates a hazard due to the small amounts of mercury they contain. Home Depot has now begun a recycling program and will take back old compact fluorescents in all of its U.S. stores.


In the Kitchen

  • Fridge / Freezer: Check refrigerator and freezer doors to ensure they are sealed tight to prevent cool air from escaping. Keep your refrigerator at 37°- 40° F and your freezer at 5° F. Vacuum the condenser coils (underneath or behind the unit) every three months.
    Check the condition of door gaskets by placing a dollar bill against the frame and closing the door. If the bill can be pulled out with a very gentle tug, the door should be adjusted or the gasket replaced.
    Do not put uncovered liquids in the refrigerator. The liquids give off vapors that add to the compressor workload.
    • Replacing an older model with a new ENERGY STAR® model can shave $45-$65 per year off your electric bills.

  • Dishwasher: When washing dishes, use the air-dry setting on automatic dishwashers rather than heated drying. An ENERGY STAR® model can reduce your carbon footprint and save more than $25 a year in energy costs.

  • Energy-smart Cooking:
    • Save energy by using a Solar Cooker or your outdoor grill for cooking. Everything you can do in the oven can be cooked on the grill. For best results, you need a grill with a built-in thermometer on the lid. You will have to play with the temperature a bit to get what you need for cooking. I would also advise using pans and crockery that you don't mind messing up, as the heat can warp a pan and crack a dish if you aren't super-careful. Be sure to cook using indirect heat. Invest in a few utensils such as a flat-topped griddle for doing bacon and eggs, pancakes, etc. A basket that fits on the rotisserie can hold smaller pieces like chicken wings and legs. A square basket type wok is great for searing small items such as fruits and veggies. Steam veggies wrapped in tin foil and placed on the warmer. Anything that might fall apart, like fish or cut-up veggies, can be wrapped in aluminum foil.


Water Preservation



Make your own cleaning supplies.

  • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging and improves your indoor air quality. More and more people realize that grandma does know best. To keep your house clean without expensive and toxic commercial cleaning products, all you need is a few simple ingredients, such as baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon and soap.