Whether it’s the long chill of winter or the enduring heat of summer, one area of your budget likely bears the brunt of seasonal pain: utility bills. We spend a large part of our monthly expenses paying for electricity, gas and water.
Sad to say, America doesn’t have the market cornered for innovative, energy-saving ideas. We ranked eighth in the 2016 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, so we can learn a thing or two from other countries.
Next time your utility bill threatens to drain your budget, consider integrating a few of the following ideas into your daily life. A personal loan from loanDepot can pave the way to top efficiency and save you money in the process. Call (888) 983-3240 for more information.
Tip: Hang a vinyl curtain or strips in your refrigerator
If you are an aspiring gourmet or have a household of people constantly opening the refrigerator, consider following the Japanese and hanging a plastic or vinyl curtain inside to prevent the cool air from escaping. Commercial refrigerators in the U.S. usually have plastic strips as well to allow for easy access while still blocking the escape of cold air. A roll of strips to cover a 4 x 7 opening starts at about $136.
Tip: Switch up your light bulbs
Country: United Kingdom
In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, the U.K. started phasing out incandescent light bulbs in 2009. The new LED bulbs could be a reason for the drop in energy usage since then. So change up those bulbs and see whether your energy use fluctuates. LED bulbs have gotten much more affordable than when they were introduced. Many retail for $4.95 and use 85 percent less energy than their wattage counterparts for an incandescent bulb.
Tip: Hang-dry your clothes
Country: Germany (among other European countries)
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the clothes dryer is just about the most energy-consuming home appliance. And that makes dryers particularly expensive. Many Germans circumvent the problem by going old school – putting pants, shirts and linens on clotheslines.
Tip: Block your chimney
One of the leading causes of energy waste is drafty windows and doors – but have you considered the air that could be escaping through your chimney? Prevent this when the chimney isn’t in use by using a damper or inflatable plug, popular in Australia. You can find these at most home-improvement or hardware stores for $59.99.
Tip: Utilize your body heat
Norwegians are acclimated to living in a cold climate, but that doesn’t mean they survive through a reliance on artificial heat. Instead, they adjust their activities to the weather – like exercising and cleaning at night when temperatures plummet.
Tip: Try a heat pump
The Swedes have made great strides toward energy efficiency over the past several years, in commercial and residential properties. One way is by relying on heat pumps – a system that moves hot air in or out depending on the heating or cooling requirements. Because it moves heat and doesn’t generate it, energy consumption drops significantly.
These systems take the place of our traditional heating, ventilation, air conditioning units (HVAC) and are considered much more efficient. You can expect to pay $1,000 to $5,000, depending on size of house and unit, but the energy savings can be one-third that of a standard HVAC unit.
According to a 2016 article by Tech Insider, each month the average American wastes 283 kilowatts of energy – the equivalent to running an oven at 350 degrees for six straight days. Ouch. If you’re ready to stop the drain, a few small changes can make a big difference.
Published March 29, 2017
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