The average California home loses 30 percent of its energy each day and in the fast approaching summer months that number can spike due to hot outdoor temperatures and the increased usage of cooling systems in homes.
From simple tasks such as installing a programmable thermostat or closing curtains on hot summer days, to leveraging local and statewide rebates—up to $4,500—on home improvements, homeowners can take control of how their home uses energy, save money on their utility bills and be more eco-friendly in the long term.
Energy Upgrade California recommends homeowners follow these 10 Quick and Easy No-Cost Energy Saving Tips to help save money on utility bills and make their homes more comfortable in the warm summer months:
- Take control of your thermostat. Set your thermostat to 78ºF or higher when you’re at home, and 85ºF when you’re gone. Keep inside air vents clear from furniture and other objects. Turning up your thermostat by just two degrees and use your ceiling fan instead can lower air conditioning costs by up to 14%.
- Turn your water heater down. Many homes’ hot-water heaters are set way above the recommended 120-degree temperature. Unfortunately, every 2.5 degrees above the mark unnecessarily boosts your hot water bill by about 1%.
- Cook with small appliances. Cook with your toaster oven, electric skillet and slow cooker for specialized jobs, rather than the range. Small appliances use less energy.
- Avoid using heat-producing appliances. If you’re home during the day, try to reduce the use of the oven, range, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.
- Turn off the faucet. Many of us tend to leave the faucet running while we wash dishes, brush our teeth or shave. Turning on the faucet only when necessary can save thousands of gallons of water a year, not to mention the energy needed to heat it.
- Keep the blinds and windows closed during the day and open at night. This is a no-cost way to keep your home a little cooler.
- Keep lights off in unoccupied rooms. Get in the habit of turning off the light every time you leave a room for more than a few minutes.
- Turn off power adapters when not in use. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use—TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
- Check the thermostat on your refrigerator or freezer. Use the energy efficient settings. 35 degrees Fahrenheit for your fridge and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for your freezer.
- Air-dry your dishes and clothing. Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle and hang your clothes out to dry instead of putting them in the dryer.
If you are looking for even more ways to save and are ready to take additional steps towards energy efficiency, you can follow these Low-Cost Energy Saving Tips:
- Replace old appliances. One of the first culprits of energy loss is inefficient and outdated appliances. By replacing energy-wasting appliances you are able to get that much more output with far less energy.
- Replace filters often. Keep air conditioner filters clean. They should be cleaned or replaced once a month during the season. If you can do so safely, clean the exposed grill and spines of the outside unit.
- Use Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulbs. Energy Star compact fluorescent light bulbs last longer and use up to 75 percent less energy than standard light bulbs. You can cut your electric bill by $60 per year if you replace the standard bulbs in your five most frequently used light fixtures.
- Install energy-efficient showerheads. Use efficient showerheads and faucet aerators. They reduce the amount of water released by up to 50 percent, with almost no noticeable difference in pressure.
- Put up white shades for your windows and install light-colored awnings. White shades will reflect the heat in the summer. Some studies report that an awning can reduce heat gain in your home by up to 77%.
If California homeowners would like to take additional steps towards creating a completely energy efficient and environmentally friendly home they can learn more about home energy assessments and home upgrades at EnergyUpgradeCa.org. Energy Upgrade California offers the Basic and Advanced energy efficiency upgrade packages tailored to each homeowner’s specific needs. You choose the one that works best for your goals and budget. Here are some of the upgrades Energy Upgrade California may suggest:
- Repair cooling and heating ducts. Repair old ducts by patching them up to adequately heat and cool your home. By allowing the loss of your hot air through the ducts you must overcompensate with your heater usage to reach the same temperature.
- Thermostatic shower control. A thermostatic control valve shuts off the shower once the water turns warm, in order to save hot water until you are ready to enter the shower.
- Fix home air leaks. Closing off the air leaks in your home around doors, windows, attics, vents, and elsewhere in between reduces drafts and keeps warm air from coming in during summer months. Sealing air infiltration may decrease your energy consumption by up to 10%.
- Install energy-efficient windows. Installing energy-efficient windows can save as much as 24% off your air conditioning bills. Energy efficient windows will prevent outside air from entering your home and keep your inside at a constant temperature. If you live in an older home, consider replacing your inefficient aluminum, wood, or metal windows with newer ones, as these types of windows tend to transfer hot and cold air into your home.
- Insulate, Insulate, Insulate. Increase the insulation levels in your house, from your attic, walls or doors.
About two-thirds of the single-family homes in the Bay Area could benefit from these kinds of improvements. Recent studies have found that eco-friendly and energy efficient homes sold for as much as 8.5% more than other homes. In addition, homes receiving official environmental certification by a third party group such as the U.S. Green Building Council sold for as much as 25% more than regular homes.
About Energy Upgrade CA
Energy Upgrade California is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission in collaboration with the California Energy Commission, California counties, cities, nonprofit organizations, and the state’s investor-owned utilities. It is your one-stop-shop for home improvement projects that lower your energy use, conserve water and natural resources, and make your home healthier and more comfortable. For more information, visit www.energyupgradeca.org.