Kill A Watt and Create an Energy Efficient Home

In certain parts of the country, homeowners dread the arrival of the electricity bill during the winter. It rarely contains good news. Learn how to determine which of your appliances draws the most power and what changes can be made in your home to lower energy use and electricity bills.

Invest in a Kill-A-Watt or Similar Device
This handy device accurately measures the electricity use of the appliances in your home. You simply plug it into the electrical outlet, and then plug the appliance into the unit. The LCD screen will display consumption by kilowatt-hour, the same unit of measurement your utility company uses, allowing you to calculate usage for a day, week, month and even the year. It can measure a variety of appliances, including refrigerators, space heaters, and washing machines and dryers.

Once you know how much energy a particular appliance uses, you can compare it to other models to see if you should upgrade to a more energy-efficient unit.

Consider Return on Investment When Shopping for Upgraded Appliances
If you do decide to upgrade an appliance, consider the return on investment when looking at the cost.

For example, notes that replacing a traditional thermostat with a programmable one costs an average of $115, but it provides $180 in annual savings and $1,800 over 10 years. That results in a 156 percent return on investment.

Green tune-up ROI diagram
For the complete ROI tables and topic page with details on over 50 ways to SAVE Money and the Environment visit: Home Remodeling ROI

An Energy Star-rated dishwasher costs an average of $20 more than a regular dishwasher, according to the website, and it uses 25 percent less energy and 800 gallons of water less per year. Such an appliance upgrade would save you $13 per year and $130 over a 10-year period, just in terms of an Energy Star-rated versus a regular model. It may not sound like much, but every little bit you can shave off your electricity bill helps.

Make Simple Changes Around the Home to Lower Energy Usage in Winter
There are many ways to easily lower energy usage and improve energy efficiency in your home, including:

  • Installing a glass screen over your fireplace to reduce the amount of warm air lost through the chimney. You can also install a fireplace insert.
  • Moving furniture away from heat registers and avoiding hanging draperies or curtains too close to the units, as both trap warm air instead of allowing it to circulate throughout the room. If you do have draperies or curtains, open them during the day to let the sun shine in and heat the room.
  • Cleaning or replacing your air filters monthly.
  • Installing a programmable thermostat and following Energy Star guidelines for its proper use.
  • Having an HVAC professional perform annual maintenance of your system, including checking ducts for leaks.
  • Having your professional handyman check for and seal any air leaks in your home. He or she also may recommend adding insulation to your attic.
Make Simple Changes to Your Behavior to Lower Energy Usage in Winter There are behavioral changes you can make to easily lower energy usage and improve energy efficiency in your home, including:
  • Using exhaust fans sparingly. Yes, a fan in the kitchen may rid the room of a fishy smell, but it also sucks out the nice toasty air, forcing your heating system to replenish it.
  • Using cold water instead of hot water when running your garbage disposal.
  • Shutting off the range top and oven early and allowing the accumulated heat to finish cooking your food.
  • Running only full loads in the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer.
  • Having your professional handyman check the seals on your appliances to ensure no cool or warm air gets wasted.

These are just a few of the many changes you can make to your appliances, home and behavior to improve energy efficiency in your home and save money. After all, wouldn't you rather use the money you spend unnecessarily on something more fun than electricity?

Read more about saving on your electric and utility bills in our home energy efficiency guide.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service now online.

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