This Thursday is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day. And, while it’s not the most exciting of national holidays, it is especially important for those looking to reduce their environmental impact and save money in the new year.
There are plenty of big changes (such as upgrading appliances to more eco-friendly models) that can help consumers meet their goals, but they aren’t always feasible for everyone. The savings experts at Offers.com have rounded up some deals and tips everyone can take advantage of, no matter their budget.
Where to find deals on energy-efficient appliances
Plenty of retailers offer Energy Star Certified options. The Energy Star label means that a product has been certified by the U.S. Department of Energy to be more energy-efficient than appliances that meet minimum guidelines.
Amazon: Prefer to shop online? Amazon has a huge selection of major appliances. Once you’ve narrowed your search down to an appliance type (refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc.), you can filter by Energy Star designation.
Best Buy: Save 5%–35% on Appliances among Best Buy’s appliance Top Deals (which change regularly). While searching on Best Buy’s website, you can filter by Energy Star certified to see which appliances currently on sale have received that designation.
Home Depot: Through Jan. 23, Home Depot is offering up to 30% off appliance special buys. This includes washers, dryers, refrigerators and washers dishwashers from top brands — and plenty of Energy Star certified options.
Lowe’s: Lowe’s frequently offers appliance Special Value deals with savings as high as 40%. While browsing your options on the Lowe’s website, look for the Energy Star label.
Overstock: You’ll find savings and, sometimes, free shipping on refrigerators, washers and dryers. To help you find energy-efficient options, Overstock lets you filter by Energy Star compliance.
Walmart: Many of Walmart’s appliances qualify for FREE 2-Day Shipping
if you order online, as well as free in-store pickup. There are plenty of Energy Star compliant options for major appliances and dehumidifiers.
Wayfair: The online home goods retailer offers plenty of Energy Star compliant washers, dryers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers and air conditioners. You’ll also find energy efficient lighting, as well as energy-efficient curtains to keep heating and cooling bills down. Orders over $49 get free shipping.
Tips for trimming your energy costs
We asked home-energy and money-saving experts for simple changes that, when done consistently, can chip away at your energy bills.
1. Gather data. The first step to reducing your energy usage is to know how much you’re using i the first place. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” says Josh Prigge, who runs sustainability consulting firm Sustridge and produces the Sustainable Nation Podcast. This can be as simple as checking your energy bills month over month. Or, use this guide to measure your home power usage.
If you need more guidance, schedule a home energy audit, suggests Ted Noonan, president of the Noonan Energy Corporation in Massachusetts. Some states offer free or low-cost audits, and plenty of companies offer audits, too. During your audit, a professional evaluator will point out energy “leaks” and tell you how you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
2. Change how you shower. “The shower is notorious for raising utility bills,” says Wayne Anthony, founder of WaterFilterData.org. According to data from the Alliance for Water Efficiency, he notes, the average American showers for 8.2 minutes and uses 17.2 gallons of water. Making small changes to your daily shower routine can cut your water use and bills. “Don’t let the water run too long before you get in the shower,” Anthony says. And strive to take shorter showers. “Depending on your hair, you may not need to wash it every day. That could cut your shower down,” he says.
3. Evaluate your appliances. Zero in on the “heaviest consumption” products in your home, says Kyle Kroeger, founder of Millionaire Mob (a blog focused on retiring early through increased savings). These include the fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher and water heater. Check to make sure they have Energy Star certification. Then evaluate if potential savings justify a full replacement. “It’s likely that’s not prudent,” Kroeger says. So consider upgrading to a more energy efficient model at the end of your current machine’s life.
4. Insulate. Insulating your home is among the “low-hanging fruit” solutions to high energy use and costs, Kroeger says. In addition to adding insulation to your home, insulate the first few feet of water pipes connected to the water heater. “This will help keep the water warmer going in,” Kroeger says.
5. Be mindful of electronics and lighting. Consistently switch off electronics when you’re not using them. Kroeger suggests using smart outlets, so you can control your lights and electronics while you’re out of town or make sure they’re off when you’re at work. Plus, as your current bulbs burn out, replace them with energy efficient ones. Incandescent bulbs are “extremely inefficient,” Prigge says, so use CFL or LED lights instead.
6. Use less hot water. Use cold water to wash clothes. “This can save you hundreds of dollars per year,” Kroeger says. Plus, lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees or less. “For every 10 degree reduction in temperature, you can save 3 to 5 percent on water heating costs,” Kroeger says.
7. Be smarter about heating and cooling. Consider using a smart thermostat, which will automatically adjust to reduce heat in areas of the house that aren’t being used. Another trick during the cold season: “Shut the doors to these areas to compartmentalize heating throughout the house as much as possible,” Prigge says. For doors that face the outside, place something at the bottom to block cold air. “This could be as simple as a towel, or you can install door thresholds that hang below the crack under the door to block the air,” Prigge says.
Another tip for winter: If you’re spending most of your time in a single room (perhaps you work from home in a home office), consider turning down the heat in the rest of the house and bringing in a portable heater with you, suggests Sophie Kaemmerle, a home improvement expert with NeighborWho. “Cut down on the central heat expenses and have some extra heat where it really counts,” she says.
8. Put your window treatments to work. In addition to offering decoration and privacy, window treatments can offer energy savings. “In the winter, open shades, curtains and blinds during the day to take advantage of free solar heat,” Noonan says. “In the summer, lower blinds and shades on the south side to keep temps cooler inside.”