Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014
It’s amazing how big a chunk of your budget energy bills take each month. It seems that each time the gas and electricity bills arrive they just get bigger. Of course, you may feel that there is nothing that you can do about this – or that if you did, you would end up compromising your lifestyle. However, this just isn’t the case. There are lots of different things you can do in order to drive down your energy usage without affecting the way you live.
Let’s start with one of the big ticket items – appliances. If your appliances are old, they are using far more energy than they should do. Replacing them can cost a fair amount of money, but as investors like Stephen Dent know, you have to spend money to make money. If you do have some spare cash, then you will recover your investment in new appliances relatively quickly. If you are willing to upgrade your appliances rather than just replacing them, then you can save even more. For instance, if you put in an induction cooktop, you can make about a 12% energy saving.
However, even if you can’t afford to replace your appliances, there are lots of other ways to reduce the amount of energy you use. For example, go into the bathroom and take a look at the shower. If you have a traditional showerhead, then you are just pouring money down the drain each morning. Go down to your local hardware store and pick up a low-flow showerhead – this is relatively inexpensive and easy to install. If you do this, you will reduce the amount of hot water you use in the shower by more than 40%. You probably think that this will make your shower less enjoyable, but it won’t – modern low-flow shower heads are designed to give you a more invigorating shower than you get with a traditional showerhead.
Another key thing to look at is your heating system. Especially in the winter, heating is a significant part of your overall energy consumption. You might not want to turn the thermostat down – although dropping it just a couple of degrees can reduce your heating bills by 6% – but there are ways to make your heating system more efficient. Replacing your old boiler with a high-efficiency new boiler is one way of doing this, but it can be expensive. On the other hand, it is relatively simple to tape and insulate your ductwork in the basement. This can save you huge amounts of energy – in fact, if your ducts aren’t insulated, you can waste up to 60% of the energy you use for heating.
Finally, plug up all those gaps around your doors and windows. Drafts can really raise your heating bills in the winter – as well as your air-conditioning costs in the summer. If you add up all the gaps in an average house, they are the equivalent of having a 3’ x 3’ hole in the wall.