How to have a more energy efficient home and live a more energy efficient life for free.

The cost of living is one "absolute" in your life that will, unfortunately, never change over time. Some things may be more controllable, such as your monthly utility bills, so we have a list of free steps to take to save energy as the cost of power will also, in all likelihood, continue to steadily increase with each passing year. Because nearly everything aspect of our lives, including our energy costs, has some monetary expense attached, many people are becoming more serious about adopting frugal habits as much as possible.

While it can sometimes be overlooked as a necessary and unchangeable "evil" that demands acceptance, your energy consumption is a key area of your life that can be modified for free, or in some instances with little effort and no expense. Minimizing your carbon footprint by reducing energy use is not only an excellent way to start shaving some cents (and dollars) from your home's utility bills, it also gives you the opportunity to gain satisfaction in the knowledge that you are taking proactive measures to help conserve our planet's limited and dwindling natural resources.

Making a number of free changes to your home, routine, or habits to live a more energy-efficient lifestyle can be easily accomplished with a small investment of time and effort. Without spending a cent on these changes, you can apply a variety of energy-saving tips to your home and life and see the savings start adding up.

 

 

 

If your income is low enough, also apply for a government program, including weatherization for free energy improvements. Grouped together below by type of activity or location in your home for easy reference, here are a number of absolutely free ways you can live a more energy-efficient life:

Save Money In the Kitchen

1. Use a microwave or convection oven instead of a traditional one. If you already own both of these, this step is free. However of course you can’t do this if you do not own these appliances. A traditional oven uses more electricity than the other two and takes longer to cook foods, which means it will use more energy when you are preparing meals.

 

 

 

 

2. When you do have something in the oven, don't be tempted to open the oven door and check on the progress of your baked or broiled item. Surprisingly enough, your oven will lose between 30 and 70 degrees of heat each time you open the door, which means it requires more energy and well as expense to your budget to return to and maintain the desired temperature. Use the oven window and light, if your appliance has them, or make sure you accurately monitor the cooking time for your oven-cooked foods.

3. If your oven has a self-cleaning feature that you use periodically, try to always do so right after you have used the oven for cooking. this is simple to do, and of course is free as well. Doing this will reduce the amount of time (and energy) needed for the oven to reach the appropriate temperature for the cleaning cycle.

4. When you are using the stovetop to cook items, make sure you are using pots or pans that are the proper size for the stove's burner rings or eyes. If a pot is too big, it takes longer to cook your food item; if the pan is too small, a significant amount of electricity and heat gets wasted.

5. If you have it, use copper-coated cookware as much as possible. Pots and pans with a copper-coated bottom distribute heat more evenly and efficiently, requiring less time (and therefore hit to your utility bills) to cook food items.

6. When washing dishes by hand, which is of course free to do so other than your own personal energry, don't let the water run constantly. Fill up the sink basin and turn the water off until you need it for rinsing purposes.

7. If you use a dishwasher to clean your dishes, turn it off after the wash cycle has completed and let your dishes air-dry for free.

8. Defrost your freezer promptly when you notice ice building up inside. Even the thinnest layer of frost can overwork the freezer, using more energy to keep foods frozen, and repeated ice buildup can be an indicator of damaged door seals (which allow cold air to leak out and force the freezer to operate almost continuously).

Free ways to Save Energy In the Laundry Room, Utility Room, or Garage

1. Rather than letting that spare freezer or refrigerator sit empty and running in your garage or utility room, unplug it so you can save energy (and money on utility costs) until you need to put it to use.

 

 

 

2. Rather than leaving your water heater at the default or factory-adjusted setting of 140 degrees, turn it down to no more than 120 degrees. This simple, free to do energy-saving adjustment will still provide you with all the hot water you need.

3. When it's time to do a load of laundry, wash your clothes in cold water. It cleans just as well as hot water.

4. When possible, don't wash anything less than a full load of laundry. Washing smaller loads uses your washing machine (and energy) much more frequently.

5. If you are able to do so, dry your clothing for free in the great outdoors on a rack or clothesline. This naturally saves energy because your dryer isn't in use, and your clothes will have a fantastically fresh scent.

6. When shopping for detergent or other household supplies, look for the best price. Save money at the point of purchase, and even use free coupon services for even more savings.

7. Keep your dryer's lint screen free of lint and other debris. When the lint filter gets clogged, it significantly minimizes the effectiveness of your dryer and causes the appliance to use more energy (and often multiple cycles) to get your clothing dry.

8. In addition to keeping the lint screen clean, you should also check your dryer's vent hose to make sure it is clear of blockage, too. Damp lint can stick to the inside of the vent hose and eventually clog it completely, which directs the heated air back into your laundry room. It also may cause you to need to pay an expensive home repair bills. When checking the vent hose for debris, also inspect it to ensure that it is connected to the dryer properly and has no visible damage, both of which can also cause heated air to vent back into your house.

Heating and Cooling Systems in the House or Apartment (Central, Portable, Forced Air, and More)

1. Perform a quick inspection of your home's air ducts and vents on a periodic basis to make sure they are not blocked or covered by draperies, furniture, appliances, or other items. Blocking the air flow through ducts and vents causes your heating or cooling system to work harder to push air through the system.

2. Keep heat-producing items away from your thermostat. When items generate heat near a thermostat, it can cause the system to incorrectly record the temperature. This will cause it to either work more or less than it should to maintain your desired comfort settings, those adding costs to your monthly electric or heating bills.

3. Check and clean or change the air filters on your HVAC system as frequently as recommended by the manufacturer (or more often). While it may cost a little money for the filter, just like a clogged lint screen or vent hose on your dryer, a dirty air filter forces the system to operate more frequently than it needs to. Not only does this use more energy (and raise costs), but it can also lead to excessive wear and tear or a premature need for repairs.

 

 

 

 

4. If the unit is not working correctly, seek financial help as part of a Heating System Repair or Replacement Program. A number of states as well as utility companies offer this form of assistance to low income families.

5. Limit the operation of your heating or cooling system when you are not at home. So turn down the thermostat, which is free to do. Do this to enjoy the climate-controlled comfort. Making adjustments of a few degrees to compensate for your absence can make a noticeable difference in your energy use.

6. When your home is being heated or cooled, keep the doors and windows closed. If you do need to enter or exit your home, don't dilly-dally in the doorway and let warm or cool air escape outside.

Electronic Gadgets, Devices, and Home Fixtures

1. Instead of just turning off your electronic items like laptops, tablets, or iPods, you should also unplug the cord from the electrical outlet when the charger is not in use. Chargers use a small trickle of electricity even when they are not actively charging, and these little trickles of energy draining away can eventually add up to a steady flow and hit to your monthly utility bill.

2. If you have a desktop computer, simply turn it completely off when you are not using it rather than letting the operating system go into a "sleep" or standby mode.

3. Many household gadgets or supplies can be costly. There are some charities that offer free items. Now these will be for very low income families or those in crisis, but there are resources available. Find a listing of free furniture programs to apply at.

4. Make use of the switch on the side of your ceiling fan and have the fan running counter-clockwise during cooler seasons and clockwise during warmer ones. This simple, free step reverses the flow of the air and helps to push cool air down or pull warm air up, depending on the season and rotational direction of your ceiling fan's blades.

5. When you are not in a room, turn off the ceiling fan (if the unoccupied room has one). The purpose of a ceiling fan is to cool you, not the room it is installed in, and having them operating when you aren't in the room to enjoy the air circulation does nothing more than waste energy and money.

There are plenty of free things you can do to create a more energy-efficient home for you and your family, and this list just barely gets you started in the right direction. The best part is that all of the tips listed here are absolutely free to do and they will save you money on your power bills. Pick and choose from these energy-saving ideas or use them all, and start reducing your energy use right away. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will begin to see the impact of your efforts.

 

 

By Jon McNamara

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