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10 ways to save money and energy in your home

Most people don't know how easy it is to save money and cut your energy usage without drastically altering your home or breaking the bank. Why should you takes steps to cut energy usage in your home? I am glad you asked. You can get federal or state tax breaks for using less energy, you will increase the comfort level of your home, reduce the impact on the environment, reduce pollution and finally reduce your energy bills. So how can we accomplish this? We can accomplish this in 10 easy steps.

Step one: Find better ways to heat and cool your house. Install a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be used to cool the room allowing you to set your a/c to a higher temperature, lowering the amount of energy you will use. Every month to 3 months, check and replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters. Remember to stay away from the costly hepa filters, they actually reduce the air flow, puts extra strain on your system wearing it out faster and uses more energy raising your bill. Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. They should be turned down at night and when no one is home. In most homes, about 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree that the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours each day. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat saves money by allowing heating and cooling appliances to be automatically turned down during times that no one is home and at night. Install a wood stove or a pellet stove. These are more efficient sources of heat than furnaces.At night, curtains drawn over windows will better insulate the room.

Step two: Install a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater heats the water as you turn on the tap. This is different from a conventional water heater that heats a tank of water and keeps it on standby. The conventional water heater uses a lot of energy because it heats the water, loses heat and then reheat the water in a continuous cycle, keeping the water warm for when you when you need it, but at the same time wasting your money. By installing a tankless water heater, you will only heat the water when you turn on the tap, reducing your energy cost substantially.

Step three: Replace incandescent light bulbs. 11 percent of the average homeowner's energy bill is made of from light usage. Incandescent light bulbs only convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. In technology in lighting, like LEDs or CFLs can reduce the energy usage by by 50% to 75%. Her are the facts about LEDs (light emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights):

CFLs use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.LEDs last even longer than CFLs and consume less energy.LEDs have no moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.

Step four: Seal and insulate your home. Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself and save on your energy bills. The following are some common places where leakage may occur: electrical receptacles and outlets,mail slots,around pipes and wires,wall- or window-mounted air conditioners,attic hatches,fireplace dampers,inadequate weatherstripping around doors;baseboards,window frames,and switch plates. If your home has an attic you want to be sure to focus your attention there. We know that hot air rises and losing your heat through the attic is a very common problem. so what can we do to stop it? Seal the attic access panel with weather stripping and add a piece of foam insulation to the back of the panel. Plug up large holes and small holes around pipes and walls using spray insulation and caulking. You should be trying to keep the conditioned air from the house from entering the attic, not stopping the outside air from entering the attic. Be Careful not to plug up the soffit vents where the roof and the wall comes together, there needs to be an opening there to allow the attic to vent.

Step five: Install efficient showerheads and toilets. Installing low flow showerheads and shower heads with a pause on them can reduce the amount of water usage substantially. You can buy shower heads with different rates to balance out efficiency and practicality. Installing a low flow toilet can reduce the amount of water a home uses by 30 to 40 percent. A low flush toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Another type of toilet you can install to save money is a vacuum assisted toilet. This type of toilet has a vacuum chamber that uses a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl, allowing it to quickly fill with water to clear waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are relatively quiet and efficient. The third type of toilet is a dual-flush toilet. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.

Step six: Use appliances and electronics responsibly. Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances: Refrigerators and freezers should not be located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents, or exposed to direct sunlight.Being near these warm areas will force them to use more energy to stay cool. Computers should be shut off when not in use. According to some studies, computers account for approximately 3% of all energy consumption in the United States. Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics. If just 10% of homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 1.7 million acres of trees. Chargers, used for laptops and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in and should be unplugged When they are not connected to electronics. Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers, so you should think about owning a laptop instead of a desktop.

Step seven: Install daylighting as an alternative to electrical lighting. Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches: Install energy efficient skylights of at least double pane glass, install light shelves (devices designed to bounce light deep into a building), add clerestory windows. Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set high on the wall. Protected from the summer sun by the roof overhang, they allow winter sun to shine through for natural lighting and warmth; and installing light tubes. Light tubes use a special lens designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the midday sun. Sunlight is channeled through a tube coated with a highly reflective material, and then enters the living space through a diffuser designed to distribute light evenly.

step eight: Insulate windows and doors About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors: Seal all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the whole perimeter to ensure a tight seal when they're closed. Install quality door sweeps on the bottom of the doors, if they aren't already in place.Install storm windows over single panes. If existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don't work, they should be repaired or replaced.

Step nine: Cook smart. An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking: Convection ovens are more efficient that conventional ovens. Convection ovens use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens. Microwave ovens consume approximately 80% less energy than conventional ovens. Pans should be placed on the matching size heating element or flame. Using lids on pots and pans will heat food more quickly than cooking in uncovered pots and pans.Pressure cookers reduce cooking time dramatically.When using conventional ovens, food should be placed on the top rack. The top rack is hotter and will cook food faster. These recommendations can help reduce your energy waste and save you money.

Step ten: Change the way you do laundry. Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wait until you have a full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load.Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled. Water that is 140° F uses far more energy than 103° F for the warm-water setting, but 140° F isn’t that much more effective for getting clothes clean.Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer. 

Homeowners who take the initiative to make these changes usually discover that the energy savings are more than worth the effort.