New year’s resolutions typically revolve around exercising, losing weight, and eliminating bad habits. This year, though, why not resolve to make your home more comfortable and increase its energy efficiency while saving a significant amount of money? If this sounds promising, check out these seven new year’s resolutions that will lower your energy bills:
1. Upgrade to an Energy Efficient HVAC System
Unless you have replaced your HVAC system recently, almost 60 percent of your utility costs are likely related to heating and cooling. However, you can lower that number by 10 percent or more by upgrading to an energy-efficient HVAC system, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can compare the energy efficiencies of various HVAC systems by their SEER rating, an acronym for seasonal energy efficiency ratio.
2. Install a Whole-House Fan
You can trim your air-conditioning costs 50 percent or more by installing a whole-house fan. If you run the fan at night with your windows open, the fan will pull in cool air as it simultaneously vents hot air to the outside. The beauty of this is that a whole-house fan only draws about as much electricity as two light bulbs. Most fans are variable speed, and some are equipped with timers.
3. Replace Your Light Bulbs with LEDs
LED light bulbs produce a higher amount of light and a lower amount of heat per unit of energy consumed than traditional light bulbs. Although their initial cost may be higher, you can cut your lighting costs as much as 80 percent by replacing your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Additionally, LED bulbs will last as much as 25 times longer and are cooler to the touch. Bulbs are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
4. Switch to a Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can be used to adjust your heating and cooling settings regardless of whether you are home because it turns on and off according to your preset schedule. On average, you can save almost $200 per year by installing one. Smart thermostats provide even more features and let you program your thermostat remotely by using your smartphone.
5. Install Solar Panels
The cost of solar panels has decreased as much as 60 percent over the past several years, making them more affordable than ever. Consequently, the average family installing solar panels on their home can save as much as $600 per year. That figure will be even higher in states or utility districts offering tax incentives or rebates. In addition to the cost savings, solar panels make a home more autonomous from an energy standpoint.
6. Replace your furnace filter
A dirty furnace filter will cause your HVAC system to work harder and stay on longer to move the same amount of air through the screen. This can cause your utility bill to increase significantly. However, a simple fix is to replace your filter regularly. Depending on the type of filter you have and the environment it is subjected to, filters should be replaced every three months, every six months or annually. Fortunately, furnace filters are relatively inexpensive.
7. Insulate Your Home
You can lower your energy bill as much as $200 per year if you properly insulate your home and install or replace weather stripping around your doors and windows. This will prevent drafty spots that let cold air into your home. You might also want to cover your outside vents and install insulated electrical outlet boxes.