My 31 Day Financial Challenge – Day 18: Evaluating Your Expenses – Energy

This step can be boiled down to four steps.

-Install CFLs

-Install a programmable thermostat

-Install surge protectors

-Turn off your home computer

-Air seal your home

 I have mentioned in a previous blog post that I really can’t stand CFLs. But I understand why people think that they can ultimately save you money. Our home actually has a programmable thermostat that we installed when we renovated our living room and dining room. That being said, we don’t actually use the oil heat the house comes with. In the winter we primarily heat our home with the non-vented gas fireplace we installed in the living room. We just have to remember to turn it down at night and when we go out. Generally speaking natural gas is cheaper than oil in our area. But we have a full oil tank. We consider it our energy insurance fund. If money ever gets really tight in the winter months we can always begin using our oil heat instead.

We already use surge protectors in our home, but we often forget to turn them off at night so I am trying to get in the habit of turning off our main surge protector in the living room. I wish our kitchen appliances were on a surge protector but having to turn our microwave off would mean resetting the clock every morning.

I have begun turning off my computer at night and I only turn it on when I know I’m going to use it. I had gotten into the bad habit of leaving in on all day and just letting it go into standby mode when I’m not using it.  I’m not sure whether I’ll see a real difference on my electric bill but it can’t hurt to try.

The idea of air sealing a house seems like a wise one. Unfortunately I find it somewhat vague and a little overwhelming. I know that our house is older and that it probably isn’t the most energy efficient. We have newer windows but there isn’t much insulation in our walls. But adding insulation isn’t exactly an easy task unless you plan to tear out your walls. Our attic is unfinished, so adding insulation there would definitely be a plus, it’s just a matter of coming up with the money upfront. It is good to save money on our monthly bills, but since we don’t know how much it would actually save on our energy bills, it’s hard to justify the large upfront cost of a major insulation project.

There have also been a few energy savings ideas that my husband and I came up with. When our washing machine died we replaced it with a well-reviewed budget priced high-efficiency front loading washer. The price was only a little higher than buying an Energy Star rated top-loading washer. Our water bill dropped significantly. We even got a rebate from our electric company because we had chosen an Energy Star model. I’ve also begun line drying more of our clothes. I do still use the dryer to dry towels and underwear and anything else that gets overly stiff from line drying. I also noticed that if it’s mildly windy the clothes are as wrinkle free as they are out of the dryer. I don’t mind the heat as much as my husband, so I don’t turn the air conditioning on until a bit before he gets home from work. I try to do most of my baking on the same day of the week so that I don’t have the keep reheating the oven. Little energy saving tips that become regular habits will ultimately save you money.

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