As LearnVest.com points out, “According to Accenture, the average person spends six minutes a year (or 30 seconds a month) thinking about their home energy use.”
The article goes on to note that the average electricity cost for a “multi-family in 5+ unit building” – such as the condo building in which we live – is $769, while natural gas is $421.
Our family spends far more than six minutes a year thinking about our utilities. And our last year’s total for these utility expenses were $588.94 and $323.26 respectively, 30 percent under the average. But we didn’t do anything fancy to get these savings. In fact, our energy savings came largely from just a few simple techniques we employ around the house.
According to GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, “How a house is oriented to the sun has a dramatic impact on heating and cooling costs – the largest energy load in most homes.”
It goes on to note, “As promising as photovoltaic (PV) and solar hot-water collectors are for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, passive solar design alone can lower heating costs tremendously. Much of the reduction is available without spending an extra dime.”
While we aren’t designing our home around the patterns of the sun, we do utilize the sun and shading of sun to help heat or cool the rooms within our home. Sunlight can easily add 5 to 10 degrees to the ambient temperatures of rooms. Pairing this passive heating with doing things like using the oven or stove to do our cooking during the winter not only saves us on meals away from the home but warms up our condo nicely through money-saving food preparation.
In the warmer months, the air conditioning might seem the most logical and useful weapon in combating the heat. However, while it can certainly help – especially when temperatures skyrocket or humidity makes it feel like a wet towel has been draped over us – the air conditioning is not always the only answer.
This is why we make use of air currents through open windows and fans (box, ceiling, and oscillating), and why we even close off certain rooms at times to keep cooling costs to a minimum.
Thinking inside the box
It’s easy to get caught up in tax breaks for energy efficient materials, fancy technology to regulate utilities, and pricey fixes or additions to minimize energy consumption; and sometimes the long-term savings could be worthwhile, especially when planning to stay in a particular location for an extended period of time. However, we tend to look for simpler ways to cut costs around our house.
From using the candle test to check for leaks around windows and doors, and using space heaters in the winter and box/ceiling fans in the summer, to using the oven to cook in the winter (to heat up our home) and using the toaster oven/microwave to cook in the summer, and tracking our utility costs to gauge consumption throughout the year, it isn’t always the fancy tactics that make the biggest difference in savings when it comes to our utilities.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Calculations have not been verified by a professional. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.