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Invest in efficiency and watch your savings grow

Article was added on Friday, July 10, 2015

It is the middle of the summer, temperatures are rising and so are your electric bills. It might be time to make a big investment, an investment in energy efficiency.

Making your home more energy efficient is still one of the safest investments you can make. Try employing these energy saving measures to collect major returns on your investments:

  • Install a programmable thermostat

  • Install a hot water heater "blanket"

  • Change your shower heads

  • Upgrade appliances like your clothes washer or your refrigerator

  • Replace old windows with energy efficient ones

  • Install water efficient toilets  

Making all of these changes at once could be difficult - if not impossible - but investing in just one of these measures can yield a significant return on your investment.

For example, installing a new, energy efficient clothes washer can yield around a 24 percent return on investment. Do your research, and make sure you are purchasing the right size appliances. A small, energy efficient washer will save you money, but if you have a larger family, having to do multiple loads could negate your energy savings.

Multiple energy efficient upgrades will help you save no matter where you live or what time of year it is, but upgrading to efficient home cooling systems will help lower energy costs significantly during the hotter months of the year.

Six percent of American energy consumption goes toward space cooling and it costs $11 billion per year for homeowners to power their air conditioners. You can reduce your energy use by 20 to 50 percent when you upgrade to energy efficient home cooling unit. One option is to install a split unit air conditioner and heating unit -they can be more expensive, but they are highly efficient, especially in homes without ductwork. Another option is to invest in an ENERGY STAR approved air conditioning unit, which can be 15 percent more efficient than a standard unit.

If buying a new cooling unit isn't in the cards for you this summer, no need to worry! Replacing appliances isn't the only way to lower energy costs, one of the most important energy efficient improvements to make during the hot summer months is air sealing and insulating. By adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joints, you can reduce your heating and cooling costs by an average of 15 percent (and it could lower your overall energy costs by an average of 11 percent!).

You can also lower your air conditioners energy consumption by between 5 and 15 percent by cleaning your air ducts. You can install energy efficient window treatments, which can reduce energy costs by around 10 percent. Or, you can simply turn on a ceiling fan, which will allow you to raise your thermostat temperature by four degrees, without impacting your comfort.  

Investing in any of these energy efficient improvements will keep you cool in the summer, warm in the winter and will make significant changes to your energy bills. So do yourself, and your wallet, a favor and invest in a more energy efficient home!

Sources: Energy.gov, EnergyStar.gov, NRDC.gov

Meghaan Evans writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of the nation' s 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.


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