A lot of people don’t know that there are simple things to do around the house to cut down on energy use and, as a result, conserve resources and save money. Using the checklist in this guide, do a quick walk-through of your friends’ or neighbors’ homes to spot easy tasks that will conserve energy and save money. In many cases, you and the resident can knock out the tasks in minutes during your visit. It’s easy, and every little bit helps. You'll be doing good for the environment and your friends’ and family members’ wallets.
Reducing the water heater temperature by 20 degrees can save nearly $50 a year.
Step 1: Schedule a Home Visit
Start with your own home to help you get familiar with the process. Then call a neighbor or friend who you think could benefit from an energy makeover. Ask if you can drop by and walk through with a checklist to help save them money on energy costs. If they say no, don’t push it: Just offer to give them a copy of the Walk-Through Checklist.
Step 2: Gather Supplies
What you need for the walk-through. Bring these items with you on your walk-through:
- Your Walk-Through Checklist
- Copies of the Tip Sheet: Operation Energy Save to leave behind
Some tasks you identify may require a professional. Never try to do a task unless you are sure you have the skills and tools to do it properly and safely.
Step 3: Conduct the Walk-Through
Use the Walk-Through Checklist in this guide to identify areas where your friend or neighbor could improve energy efficiency. Remember to be sensitive in any comments you make regarding the condition of the home.
Step 4: Leave the Energy Saving Tips and Weatherization Flyer
Leave behind a copy of the “Tip Sheet: Operation Energy Save." This tip sheet provides day-to-day ideas for home owners to use to save more money. Also, leave behind the Weatheriazation Assistance flyer (available for download below) describing the weatherization and LIHEAP program. Review both with the homeowner and offer to help them follow up.
Step 5: Consider Organizing a Group
If you’ve had success with your energy-efficiency home visits, you could recruit others to perform the same service for their friends and neighbors. You can use this guide to help, along with the Nuts and Bolts guide for project organizers (createthegood.org/toolkit/nuts-bolts-project-organizers?how-to-toolkit=1) for tips on organizing a group effort.
SIMPLE AND PROVEN TIPS FOR LOWERING HOME ENERGY BILLS
- Follow the 10-10 Rule. Lowering the thermostat in the winter by 10 percent (for instance, from 74° to 67°) for 8 hours can shave 10 percent off your heating bill. Many people do this at night and use extra blankets when sleeping.
- Run the washing machine and dishwasher only with a full load. Use the cold water setting when possible. And clean the clothes dryer’s lint filter after every load.
- Keep the lights off in unoccupied rooms.
- Turn off kitchen and bathroom ventilating fans when not needed. If left on for an hour, they can suck all the heat out of the house.
- During the winter, open drapes, blinds, or shades on windows facing the sun to warm rooms. At night, cover the windows for better insulation. Also keep the windows clean so they can let in the maximum amount of light and heat.
- Make sure furniture is not blocking a heat register. To feel warmer, move furniture away from cold exterior walls and windows.
- Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use.
- Unplug or recycle that spare refrigerator in the garage if it isn’t really needed. This could save up to $150 per year!
- Unplug chargers: Cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers or power adapters, etc., are drawing some amount of energy even when not in use (and even when not connected to an end-use product).
- Contact your local utility company to ask about a home energy audit. Costs vary, but some companies offer free audits.
- Call your local department of social services to ask if they can help with home energy expenses.
Home Energy Saver (http://hes.lbl.gov/) is the first web-based do-it-yourself energy audit tool.
ENERGY STAR (www.energystar.gov/) is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping you to save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.
Energy Savers (www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/index.html) provides tips for saving energy and money at home and on the road. Also check out information on energy efficient tax credits, rebates and financing. (U.S. Department of Energy)
Energy Saving & Green Living (www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/resource-center/energy-saving-guide/energy-saving-guide.htm) is a warehouse of information on products and projects that help you save money and energy. (Consumer Reports)
Easier Home Maintenance This Fall (www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-09-2010/best_bargains_in_fall_home_maintenance.html) is an article that has tips for fixing, cleaning and tightening things up to prevent winter damage and save money, too.
Get Help Paying for Home Energy Upgrades (www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-08-2010/tax-credits-for-energy-saving-upgrades.html) describes tax credits and utility rebates that can lower the cost of replacement windows, new furnaces and more.