Energy prices are up everywhere, which isn’t a mood booster at all, especially when the price of food and basics have gone up at the same time. While you can’t control when your energy company decides to sneak up rates, you can be proactive about reducing energy use at home to weather the storm.
Although there are some big-ticket ways to reduce energy spending, such as replacing windows, it’s also helpful to know free or cheap ways to cut energy costs. After all, if budgets are a little tighter, buying a new Energy-Star dishwasher may not be in the forecast. By reducing your electric bills, you can increase your margin and save for bigger energy-saving upgrades.
This list will include only free and cheap ways to use less energy. If it costs over $25 to do, we won’t list it!
Unplug Energy Vampires Easily With Power Strips
We’re not talking about Count Dracula, but the devices and appliances that steadily use electricity while plugged into an active socket. While some are impractical to unplug, like microwaves or WiFi routers, you can unplug other devices without much inconvenience when not in use, such as coffee machines, rice cookers, gaming consoles, TVs, computers, sound systems, lights, and random kitchen gadgets.
Most of these can be unplugged directly to save energy, but you can make turning off devices more convenient by plugging them into a power strip. When you plug other gaming consoles and streaming devices into a single power strip, you can turn everything off with a quick flip of a switch.
- Our pick: This 4-pack from Amazon can streamline energy saving in a snap, and it’s only $24.99!
Use Room Darkening Shades in the Summer
In the mountainous areas of Switzerland, most households don’t have air conditioners, yet the houses remain comfortable even in the summer. The reason? They shut out the sun during the day in unused rooms with room-darkening shades and spend most of the day outside.
Simply cutting out direct sun can keep a house cool. Otherwise, UV rays would create hot air indoors. We can use this practice to our advantage, with the addition of ceiling fans and air conditioners to combat the humidity that we typically suffer with in the States.
In the Winter, Let in Plenty of Natural Light
Winter has many hazy days, but sunny days offer free heat. Open your blinds and let in all the sunlight to offset heating costs. As long as your windows aren’t drafty, open up those insulating shades and let the sun offset some heat loss. Plus, the sunlight is good for your mood and gives you some extra vitamin D!
Seal Old Doors And Windows
No state-of-the-art air conditioning system can stand up to a poorly insulated home. The hundreds of dollars extra you pay to keep your home cozy in spite of air leaks can be prevented when you apply stick-on weatherstripping or caulk to cracks around doors and windows.
Ditch Old-Fashioned Incandescent Bulbs
Swap out the conventional bulbs in your home for energy-efficient LED lights to reduce energy usage by up to 75%. Incandescent light bulbs are also hotter than LED bulbs, which can make a house even harder to cool down in the summer. It’s a lose-lose all around, so get your lighting game into the 21st century. Your utility bill will thank you.
- Pro tip: The Dollar Tree typically carries LED bulbs for $1.25 each. Walmart also sells multipacks for under $10.
Use Energy-Saving Modes on Entertainment Devices
What do you do when you don’t want to shut down your TV or console fully, but you don’t need to use it for a while? Energy-saving modes combine convenience with wallet sense, keeping your devices on an ultra-low-wattage mode that will delight the energy-saver inside you.
Use Cheap Modes on Your Appliances
You see those labels: the ones that are begging you to practice some energy consumption. Most modern appliances have them, and it’s up to us to use them. They go by different names, but you can usually identify which ones are geared toward less energy use, like “eco mode” or “air dry.”
Try the air-dry option if your dishes or clothing aren’t urgent chores. Eco-mode for dishes can also do just as good of a job if you do a bit of pre-washing.
- Tip: Using full loads with your washing machine and dishwasher can save homeowners energy over time by simply running fewer cycles.
Change Your HVAC Filters
While the typical 13-SEER heat pump system can cost well over $13k for parts and installation, maintaining an HVAC can lower energy bills for a small monthly cost. Be sure to change furnace air filters regularly, and you can see up to 15% savings throughout the year. That’s over $100 on energy bills easily.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats can save you plenty of energy costs during the year. Since most energy usage is related to heating and cooling costs, strategically setting temperatures for different days of the week and times of the day can help you optimize your heating bill. This also ensures that your heating and cooling system won’t be as strained during high-needs seasons.
- Deals are out there: We just found a programmable thermostat under $20 on Amazon!
Take 4-Minute Showers
Long, hot showers are luxurious, but they come at a cost. Even a 10-minute shower costs three times more than a 4-minute shower. Imagine saving three times the hot water costs every time you shower. It all adds up!
We hope that these accessible energy-saving tips can help you stretch every dollar as we wrestle with some elevated energy costs as of late.
Get an Energy-Efficient New Construction Home
Also, if you crunched the numbers and figured that getting a new construction home outfitted with the latest energy-star-rated components evens out with the cost of rehabbing your current home, contact us.
Our agents can connect you with the right builder in your area to get you a gorgeous, energy-efficient new construction home.
Alicia Persson is the official in-house content writer for Marketplace Homes. She has several years of experience working in real estate teams that specialized in investments and property management. Before she joined MH, she was a freelance writer for 7 years, providing real estate and home living content for boutique digital marketing agencies.
She is a proud University of Virginia Masters graduate and enjoyed her undergraduate years at the University of Mary Washington. When she is not writing, she is playing keyboard in a local 90’s band in central Virginia or spending time with her amazing family.