Energy Saving Tips from the Dept of Energy – Pretty Darn Good!

by Darwin on November 19, 2009

When I was contemplating the steps we’re taking this year to save money on our energy bills, I thought this would be a quick post on top energy savings tips with high ROI.  However, in checking out some other sources, I came across a wealth of information that I couldn’t help but share as well.  For instance, I didn’t even know about this comprehensive manual the US Dept. of Energy puts out, but it’s full of useful stats and energy conservation tips.  It’s probably the most useful thing I’ve seen out of our government in ages.  They’re trying – especially now with this cash for caulkers program coming.  Since I hadn’t heard of this manual before it’s a huge read, I figured I’d share a summary of my favorite high ROI energy saving tips.

Here’s a snapshot of where the typical American spends their money each year on energy:

Of course, depending on which region you live in and the type of housing you’re in, these levels will differ, but if you live in a “typical” area and house, you could reasonably expect to see expenditures like this.  Using the 80/20 rule, perhaps you want to focus on the couple largest segments first.

Some tips from the manual:

Tips for Sealing Air Leaks

  • First, test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.
  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.

During the heating season, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
During the cooling season, keep the window coverings closed during the day to prevent solar gain.
Water usage/heating Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.

Be sure to buy ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs:

  • They will save you about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime.
  • Producing about 75% less heat, they are safer to operate and can cut home cooling costs.

Incredible!  At a couple bucks each, the ROI on these bulbs is several hundred percent! Every bulb in your house that doesn’t use a dimmer (our kitchen lighting had trouble with these) should be CFL

Dishes – Scrape, don’t rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases (I can’t get my wife to agree to this, but it’s what I do – well, it’s easier than doing extra work too right?)

Programmable thermostats do cost $35 to $100, and professional installation can cost an additional $75 to $100, but homeowners can save about $180 a year with a properly set one, according to the Department of Energy.

Gasoline – There’s a section on gas savings that I’ve pretty much hit in this article HERE.

Energy audits are a great idea, and some utility companies will offer them for free. There are independent professionals out there, too, who can take a holistic approach to your entire structure and help you make it as energy efficient as possible.

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Weekly Roundup – Cinnamon Bear Edition |
November 29, 2009 at 10:04 pm


1 Financial Samurai November 20, 2009 at 3:11 am

Ahhh, proof that the Space Heater is an electricity sucker!

Is space heating really more expensive than turning on the gas furnace though? Is there some metric/experiment one can view for more data?

I just feel bad turning on the furnace if I’m only in one room given my house has 2 other bedrooms.

2 Jackie November 20, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Living in an extreme climate, I can pretty much guarantee that the majority of our energy usage is on space cooling. But! At least there are a few months out of the year where we don’t need to heat or cool. This is a good reminder though about checking for leaks; I need to hit up Home Depot for some kind of new weatherstripping to go around one of our doors. It’s bad when you can see daylight…

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