In our previous post we covered 2 major areas in the house – namely your appliances and your Heating / Cooling systems, today we will add to this with other items
Water Heaters & Other Plumbing Issues
WH – Flushing the Unit: Your Water Heater should be drained yearly, to clean out the sediment from the bottom & for it to run more efficiently. The steps for this are numerous & should be located in the owner’s booklet that came with it. There are two words of warning with this – make sure you turn off the electrical & / or gas before you start. If you have a gas unit make sure you know how to properly relight the gas pilot. If you do not know how, we recommend that you bring in a plumber to do this the first time or a representative from the gas company to show you how to do this safely. How-To Article
WH – Set the temp to 110 to 120 degrees: While you’re draining the water heater, check the temperature that the water heater is set at, & set it to 110° or 120° degrees. While dishwashers run best at 140 degrees, most new units have an internal unit for heating the water. One problem with running the water heater at that high of a temperature is that it can result in scalding if it is not tempered. The other issue is that it takes more energy to raise the water to that temperature, and to hold it at that temperature.
WH – Insulating the Unit: While most newer Water Heaters are more than adequately insulated, you can increase the performance of older ones by using a special water heater blanket. With the exception of some of the top of the line models, there is generally little to no insulation on the bottom of the water heater. If you have an electric water heater, you might consider going to the store and buying a sheet of 1″ foam before you drain your water heater. Simply cut it to fit inside the overflow tray, have someone help you gently lift the water heater & slide it underneath.
Drips & Leaks: You can easily have 100’s of gallons or more of water going down the drain a month by not fixing leaking plumbing fixtures or lines. If the water is leaking elsewhere, for instance around a toilet, under the house, etc… you may end up with major rot &/or mold issues that need to be dealt with which can easily run into the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.
Toilets: If your toilet is an older model that uses 5 gallons of water to flush, you should consider getting it replaced. The newer ones use only 1.6 gallons of water & some of them now use less than that. If a new toilet is not an option at this time, you can place a 2-liter bottle or gallon container in the tank to offset the amount of water used.
WaterSense: If you are considering replacing Water Fixtures in your house, look into fixtures with the WaterSense sticker for some major water savings with little to no performance issues.
Other Electrical Saving Options
Install Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL): The next time a bulb burns out, consider switching over to CFL’s. The old days of crappy flickering fluorescent lighting is behind us as manufacturers are improving their products. Cost varies per light chosen, while they may run 3 to 5 times more than cheap light bulbs, they last longer & cost less to operate – Payback time can be measured generally in months
Dimmer’s, Timer’s, Motion Sensing Switches: Based on your needs, switches that dim the lights, turn on automatically, or turn off at a certain time can help you save money from lights being left on when their not required. A timer setup for the bathroom exhaust fan can help ensure that the fan is left on long enough to get rid of the humid air & it turns off without you trying to remember & letting all the conditioned air out. (Speaking of timers – there are now ones available that limit how long your kids shower is) Cost varies but generally start around $20 a switch
Your PC: Make sure to completely turn it off when not in use, or consider switching to a laptop which uses less energy.
Create a charging station: Using a Surge Strip, plug all chargers (that are always using energy) into it for your cell phones, I-Pod’s, & other associated items. When you’re not charging everything, turn the Surge Strip off. While this can be done for entertainment centers, you may wish to leave your Cable Box, or other slow to boot devices / ones that don’t have an internal battery into an always live outlet
Install a ceiling fan: In the winter, run it at low speed in a clockwise direction to re-circulate the warm air that rises to the ceiling. During the summer, reverse the direction. This will allow you to lower or raise the thermostat a couple of degrees while still feeing comfortable.
Get rid of that extra fridge in the garage: Older fridges are energy hogs & can run you up to $200 a year. There are plenty of people that will pick them up for free or even pay you for them. If you do have an appliance that is older than 6 years of age & is starting to go, consider getting a newer ENERGY STAR® rated one.