I’ve written in the past about easy ways to save money while saving the planet, so I read with great interest David Bach’s recent article outlining eco-friendly ways to cut energy costs. What follows is Bach’s list of suggestions accompanied by my own thoughts on each.
1. Get a home energy audit. We’ve actually never had one of these done at our house, but if I could get one done for free, then it might be worth the trouble. In our case, I definitely wouldn’t pay to have an audit done, as we’re already very conscientious about our energy usage, and are constantly coming up with new tricks improve.
2. Seal up air leaks. This is a great tip. One way I like to illustrate the importance of seemingly small air gaps is to consider the effects of a 1/4 inch gap along the bottom of your front door (typically 36 inches wide). This works out to 9 square inches of air space! Consider a 3 x 3 inch hole in your wall. You’d seal that up, wouldn’t you? So why not do the same with the gap beneath your door (or wherever else you might have leaks).
3. Tune up your air conditioning. We’re in a reasonably new house, so our A/C is pretty efficient. However, it recently stopped cooling the house due to low refrigerant. After having it recharged, I’ve noticed that it runs a good bit less because it can get the house down to the desired temperature more quickly. Less running = less electricity, which is all good in my book. Now we just need to find the leak that caused the problem in the first place…
4. Supplement air conditioning with an attic fan. This just isn’t do-able in our climate, as we live in the fairly deep in the southeast, and the humidity precludes the comfortable use of an attic fan for most of the year (at least during the hotter months).
5. Unplug appliances before you go on vacation. I often unplug or TVs, computers, and other electronics before travelling, but it’s more to protect against power surges in case of any wicked storms that might pass through in our absence. The energy savings is just an added bonus.
6. Save with smart landscaping. This is a huge one for me. Planting trees in smart locations around your house is a great investment, as it not only improves your curb appeal and overall property value, but as the trees grow their shade will translate into major savings when it comes to keeping your house cool.
7. Use water wisely. This is a tough one for us, as we have four kids… Thus, our family does a lot of bathing, dish washing, and laundry. But we do cut back where we can. We water the lawn relatively infrequently (and fairly deeply) to improve drought tolerance — if you water frequently for short periods of time, your lawn may look nice, but you’re encourage shallow root growth. We’ve also been working to create some ‘green spaces’ on our property with drought-tolerant groundcover.
To read a dozen of my own tips (only some of which overlap with this list) be sure to check out “12 Simple Ways to Save Money on Utilities (and the Planet).â€