guest post by bobbi peterson
With the overall cost of living trending upward over the past few years, homeowners and renters alike suddenly find themselves pinching pennies more than ever before. While many can adjust their budget by eliminating some of their extracurricular spending, others are not that lucky.
However, regardless of how strapped for cash you may be, there are a number of things you can do around the home in order to bolster your savings account and decrease your overall energy consumption at the same time.
Let's face it: Older and outdated appliances have a negative reputation. Not only are they unreliable and prone to breakdown at any moment, but also some were manufactured with materials that can be downright hazardous to your health.
Thankfully, times have changed for the better. Most of today's appliances are manufactured in an eco-friendly and energy-conscious manner, but this does nothing to remove the old, archaic appliances that still haunt the homes of many homeowners and renters. With that in mind, you might want to take a minute or two and inspect the appliances you currently have.
Purchasing a new air conditioner, or even performing the proper maintenance on the unit you already have, might be able to save you as much as $85 on a yearly basis. Replacing washers and refrigerators that were purchased in the 1990s could amount to a cost savings of several hundred dollars.
Even the hardware in your home office, including desktop PCs, laptops and other electronics, are now being manufactured with energy efficiency in mind. To ensure your hardware is compliant with the latest standards in environmental protection and energy efficiency, look for the Energy Star logo.
Upgrading Exterior Doors and Windows
Doors or windows leading to the outside, including your garage door, should be inspected on a regular basis. If they are older or outdated models, or if they have any noticeable holes, cracks or other wear, consider replacing them as soon as possible.
According to some studies, replacing an outdated or damaged garage door can result in as much as a 71 percent decrease in overall energy loss within the garage itself. Given the rising costs of electricity, as well as utilities such as gas, it's easy to see how an upgrade such as this can have a huge impact on your monthly expenses.
Residential Solar Panels
Although solar panels are typically seen on a large scale, they are making their way into households all across the globe. Keep in mind that this could require a large upfront investment, depending on the size, capacity and location of your solar panel installation.
There are additional factors to keep in mind, including any local or community ordinances, how you plan to store and use the energy you generate and more. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a handy guide to get you started in planning your own residential solar panel installation.
Alternative Methods of Heating and Cooling
Finally, try to find alternative methods of heating and cooling your home. A ceiling fan can serve as a great alternative to an air conditioner, for example, and wood or pellet stoves are far more efficient means of heating your home than modern furnaces. Keeping shades and curtains open during the day can provide some amount of natural heating, while closing them at night can improve the room's insulation from the outside weather.
Finding What Works for You
In the end, it's all about finding what works for you and your current living situation. Renters, for example, may be limited in the amount of actual upgrades they can perform on their own. In this case, try to come up with your own methods of cutting your energy bills. Not only will it put a little bit more money in your pocket at the end of the month, but it will also help improve our environment for years to come.