The Energy Efficient House

Lifestyle factors can affect your energy use. Changes in your living patterns may require the greater use of electricity, which results in a more expensive bill at the end of the month. A new addition to the family, kids on summer break, a change in work schedule – it all adds up on the electric bill.

The more people in the home, the more energy is being used. Think about the holidays alone: relatives come to visit, special meals are prepared, parties are hosted and lights are strung. Be aware of higher energy use times and compensate for them at other times.

If your electric bill is higher than you’d like to see it, it pays to examine where you can conserve energy in your home without sacrificing the comfort of your family. The first step is knowing how much energy is being used and when, then making informed decisions about how you want to live.

Your local electric company has information on how much appliances cost to operate per kilowatt hour. And many offer free home energy checks where a trained professional examines your home for potential energy pitfalls and recommends ways to cut your energy bill.

But you can also look at your existing electric bill history to see where your money is going. Ever notice how your bill is more expensive in the summer months if you live somewhere warm? Air conditioning and heating costs are often the number one culprit in higher electric bills.

Conserving electricity in the house may start with the air conditioning, but it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve implemented positive habits with your heating and air conditioning, start looking for other places that you can conserve energy, like replacing a broken appliance with an energy-efficient model, putting in energy-efficient windows, and replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient halogen bulbs. Fluorescent lighting produces the same amount of light as incandescent and costs one-third to one-half to operate.

There are many other ways to save electricity in your home. Start with the easy and obvious: turn off lights and electronics when they’re not in use. Use timers or light-sensors on outdoor lights. Then move on to consider what next steps you can take to become energy independent like weatherstripping and caulking windows, doors and plumbing, or using window shades or installing storm windows and inserts, insulation.

Or think about DIY fixes that combine benefits. Low-flow shower heads conserve electricity and water. Fixing leaky faucets eliminates water waste and the energy used to heat it. Running the dish washer only when it’s full saves the electricity used to heat the water and run the machine.

Solar power is becoming more commonly used in residences
. The energy harnessed from a solar panel can be converted to offset home energy costs by heating water, heating and cooling air and even cooking.

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