According to the ENERGYSTAR division of the government, the average American family spends about $2,200 a year in heating and cooling their homes. Some of you must be scoffing at this. In a recent interview with SmartMoney, the EPA's Maria Vargas said Americans cut $17 million on their HVAC bills in 2009, using energy saving tips. Energy use on heating and cooling accounts only for 46 percent of your total electric bill, she said.
Vargas told Yahoo that homeowners can slash bills by eliminating energy hogs that we assume have to be run constantly through the year. She suggested:
Powering off non-essential electronics. Put your laptop computers and televisions on power strips and turn them off completely for the evening, or when you're away all day. That includes energy gobbling game consoles, external power adapters, and other "energy vampires" you love to keep on stand-by for instant access.
Filters and frugality. HVAC filters should be changed out every month. Try using cold water on your laundry, and drop the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees (and save up to $400 a year in water heading costs.) Save another $70 a year by swapping out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Consider Green Remodeling
How to start? Read our Guide to Green Remodeling. Weatherizing is a key factor in the greening of the American home. According to Save Greenly, poor insulation and inadequate weatherstripping is the number-one culprit in energy loss.
Having sufficient attic insulation (the equivalency of R-30 batts in your attic, R-40) is a good way for getting started with green remodeling. Another is to begin swapping out any single-paned window sets in your home for double-paned insulated windows.
Do you really need that old beer fridge in your garage-the one without the EnergyStar label? For the convenience of having a few six packs outside, you're paying up to 10 percent more in overall energy costs.
Last, it may be time to assess your washer/dryer setup. Older top-loading models suck down more electricity than today's efficient EnergyStar-approved models that load in front. The new washers wring out moisture better, cutting drying costs. And the new dryers have moisture sensors that cut power once the clothes are dry, even if the cycle is still running.
Setting your goals for lower utility costs for 2011 can help you put aside more money for holiday gifts next year.