I know you’re already racking your brain as to which neighbor you let borrow the ladder, but you need it back. You know that in just a few days, you’re going to be putting up the holiday lights around the house, in the trees, and wherever else you have a hook set up from last year.
And each year you hear us tell you the perks of ditching your old strings of lights, and to purchase LED lights. Each year the incentive gets better and better, including this year. The prices keep dropping, the varieties are growing, and you might have even caught The Home Depot coupon (they were giving you discounts on new LEDs for your old holiday lights – Expired 11/13).
In addition to those perks, you’ll save some money on your electric bill. Wonder how much you’ll save? We created a calculator (example in picture above) to break it down based on lighting type and hours per day that the lights stay on.
In 2010, if you used five 100-bulb strand icicle lights, five strands of the 25-bulb bigger lights, and four spotlights and you kept them all on from 4:30PM until 11:30PM, it would cost you around $32.01 for the month of December, just for the holiday lights.
This year, you can choose to go all out and use a whopping 15 strands of the 100-bulb LED lights and kept them on from 4:30PM until 11:30PM, and it would only cost you a mere $1.63!! That’s 5 cents per day to have your house shine brighter than ever!
Did you know that a 1/8th of an inch crack all the way around a doorway creates the same air loss as a 6 inch square hole in the middle of your door?
Properly sealing up your windows and doorways using weather-stripping eliminates drafts and keeps the heated or conditioned air you pay for from escaping. There are many options available for homeowners to do this yourself.
1&2) Approximately 40% of your bill goes to heating and cooling your home. Save on your bill by setting the thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. We recommend 68° in the winter and 78° in the summer.
3) Only about 20% of homes built before 1980 are considered well insulated. One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic. Most U.S. homes should have between R-30 and R-60 insulation in the attic. Don’t forget the attic trap or access door.
4) Plant deciduous trees like oak, maple, gum, ash and dogwood. They lose their leaves in the winter, letting the sun through to warm your home. In summer, their leaves shade your home. Plant shade trees to the south, since that side gets the most sun. Evergreens are effective for blocking wind. Plant them in a staggered or double line to the northwest of your home. Smaller foundation plants can minimize the loss of cool air away from the house in summer and, in winter, provide additional wind protection.
5) The average person takes a 10 minute shower with roughly 2 gallons of water being used per minute. This equates to 20 gallons every time you shower!
6) Lower your water heating costs by adjusting the temperature to 120°. Reducing your water temperature to 120ºF also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. This helps your water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency.
7) Two words: heat loss. Insulating your hot water pipes will reduce losses as the hot water is flowing to your faucet and, more importantly, it will reduce standby losses when the tap is turned off and then back on within an hour or so. A great deal of energy and water is wasted waiting for the hot water to reach the tap. Even when pipes are insulated, the water in the pipes will eventually cool, but it stays warmer much longer than it would if the pipes weren’t insulated.
8) Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool - wasting energy. A clean filter will also prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system - leading to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
9) This is a bit of a trick question. Most sources report that showers use less water, but of course that depends on the length of time and the type of showerhead you have. For the sake of argument, we’ll go with the sources and say baths use more water than showers.
10) As reported in last week’s blog post, standby power (or energy vampires!) can account for about 10% of residential electricity use. The good news is that most of this percentage is preventable by just making some minor (mostly behavioral) changes. Use your power strips and flip the switch when you’re done…or just unplug your appliances/electronics!