Tips Tuesday: How to Cut Your Energy Bill

This week's Tips Tuesday is courtesy of Betsy del Monte from Dallas Habitat for Humanity.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your home cool and cut that energy bill while we wait for fall and cool weather to arrive.

No-Cost Projects
• Close your shades, curtains and blinds during the day to keep the sun from warming your rooms.
• Turn off the lights in rooms that are not in use.
• Turn the thermostat up a degree or two.
• Don’t run your dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer between 3 and 7 pm.
• Turn down the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F.
• Cool only the part of your home you use; if you don’t use that spare bedroom, close the vent and shut the door.

Low-Cost Projects
• Seal air leaks around your outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors.
• Add insulation to block heat gain in summer and loss in winter.
• Replace the light bulbs with ENERGY STAR CFL bulbs.
• Install a programmable thermostat and use it to save energy while you are away at work or on vacation.
• Change your air filter monthly in times of heavy use, at a minimum every three months.

Investment Projects
• When replacing windows, install ENERGY STAR qualified windows.
• When replacing lighting or appliances, look for ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures and appliances.
• Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs.
• Install a lighter-colored “cool roof.”
• Install a tankless, heat pump, or solar hot water heater.
• Plant deciduous trees near south, east, and west-facing windows, providing shade in the summer, but letting in the sun’s heat during the winter (when leaves have fallen). Plant evergreen trees on the north side of your home to buffer winter winds.

Betsy del Monte, FAIA, LEED BD+C, is the principal and director of sustainability for Beck, an integrated real estate firm providing architecture, construction and development services, and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity 2011 Board Member.