Low Cost Ways to Save Energy at Home
by Damien Andrews
Saving energy is something that is slowly rising in the consciousness of Americans. It's something that simply needs to be done. We have a constant population growth, but our primary sources of energy dwindle at the same time. Obviously, we'll run out of the things we currently use to produce the overwhelming portion of our energy such as oil and coal. Solar, wind, hydro and thermal energy are being improved upon all the time, but making a complete shift to any of these limitless alternates will take time. In the meantime, however, there are lots of things that can be done to save energy around the house. Some are free, some cost relatively little, and some are downright expensive. All ways of saving energy pay back those who implement them, but some paybacks take longer than others. Free energy saving ideas starts paying back immediately as there is no investment required. Click here if you'd like to read about FREE ways to save energy at home.
Implementing low cost ways to save energy at home will take time to see a full pay back, but the results will be immediate. How long it will take to get the entire investment paid back, and start saving money – as well as saving energy – depends on what energy saving measures you take and how you implement them. It also depends on how serious some of the problems you fix in your house are when you make the changes. You could realize a full payback on your energy saving investment in just a few months, if you seal lots of gaping window and door leaks yourself instead of using a contractor, for example. Contractors are required for some energy saving methods, but for most, even a beginning do-it-yourselfer can get the job done.
Here are some low cost ways you can save energy at home:
Insulate electrical switches and receptacles: The amount of air lost through the gaps and openings in and around electrical switches and receptacles is really quite amazing. ["Receptacles are also called outlets.] If you'd like to see how string the air flow through these openings is, while your central heat and air system is running, just hold a lighted match close to the switch or receptacle and watch the flame flickering – or get blown out. Now, multiply that by the number of such items there are in your house. It's not at all uncommon to have 40 electrical switches and receptacles in today's homes – and often more. Insulating around switches and receptacles is very easy today, thanks to the availability of precut pieces of foam designed expressly for this purpose. These foam insulating gaskets are great for stopping the air flow through and around electrical switches and receptacles. Just count up how many switches you have and how many receptacles you have and then purchase the appropriate number of insulating foam gaskets at your local hardware store, or on-line. When these gaskets are sold in packages of 5-10, they are slightly cheaper, but since they only cost 15-20¢ each anyway, it's not worth spending too much time looking for discounts. To install these insulating foam gaskets in your electrical switches and receptacles, simply remove the cover plate, place the foam over the switch or receptacle – the holes are already cut for you, including screw holes – and then replace the cover plate. For banks of switches or receptacles, use as many gaskets as you need to cover all of the boxes. (Installing these insulating foam gaskets around electrical switches and receptacles will also keep the house cleaner.)
Use fluorescent bulbs : This is the easiest and most underused method of quickly saving energy. Incandescent light bulbs use lots of electricity, much of which goes towards heating the light bulb, and therefore the surrounding air. Replace all of your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. Start with the ones that are most often used. These new screw-in type fluorescent blubs use about 1/3 of the power of an incandescent light bulb, and they last about ten times longer. Also, they are much, much cooler. You'll save lots of energy by virtue of the reduction of power needed by each bulb. You'll also save energy during the summer months when your air conditioning unit is running – since the incandescent light bulbs will no longer be heating the air up. The new screw-in fluorescent light bulbs are rather pricey, by comparison, but they will actually end up saving you lots of money over just a few months. Besides, they will last ten times as long. If you buy packages of these new fluorescent bulbs, they are less costly than when purchased individually.