From Mr. Jay: Five Easy Household Money-SaversApril 3, 2013 by Kyle 4 comments • Filed Under Frugal Living, Guest Post
(The following is a guest article by Home Depot employee Jay Harris, also known affectionately as Mr. Jay. Kyle’s Note: I think he makes some great points and his advice could definitely save you some money on your utility bills. Please give me your thoughts in the comments!)
As any of history’s most notorious dictators will tell you, humans and societies unknowingly crave restriction and limits. A leader bent on power solidifies their hold by pulling back on freedom and putting a cap on the amount of energy and money one is allowed to expend on anything in particular. And you don’t need to have the ‘people-pleasing skills’ of Stalin, Lenin and Mussolini to figure that out.
Indeed, the before-its-time wisdom of that philosophy continues to reveal itself when you think about all of the wonderful ways humans have discovered to save a little here and cut back a little there. Why, many of them are easy enough to do yourself and implement around the house!
From Mr. Jay himself, here are five simple ways to reduce your energy usage and start saving today:
One of the easiest ways to keep cool air inside in the summer and prevent heat from escaping in the winter is to apply a fresh line of caulking to your windows. Especially for those of us who haven’t yet kicked it into full eco-gear with brand new energy-efficient windows, caulk is a great way to get a little more mileage out of those old panes of glass. Save money on labor and save money on wasted energy: just keep one thing in mind – a little bit of caulk goes a long way, so don’t over-apply it to your casings.
Energy-Efficient Blinds and Window Treatments
Even if you already have the green windows, why stop there? Cover them with some energy-efficient blinds or window treatments to double up on your eco-friendliness.
For blinds, you can go with ones made out of a sustainable material, like natural wood (bamboo, etc.) or recycled sawdust. By keeping them partially closed, you allow light to come in through the slats, but you keep out much of the temperature-inducing rays of sunlight. Think of what you’ll save on your electric bill! In this way, money literally does grow on trees.
If you choose to go with window treatments, you can still up the eco-friendly factor by picking an organic material, like cotton, hemp or soy, and line them with a light colored fabric. The lighter the liner, the more sunlight (and heat) it reflects back into the outside atmosphere, where it belongs.
Clear Window Film
Continuing on with the theme of waste-reducing windows, clear window film keeps the interior temperature down while reducing the amount of heat-packing and fade-inducing UV rays sneaking in through windows located in direct sunlight.
The warm beams of light that flood our rooms actually create hot spots inside a home that drastically increase the temperature. As a result of these hot pockets, your AC has to work that much harder to rid the room of the excess heat, and if there’s one thing you’d be totally justified in permanently removing from your household, it’s a Hot Pocket.
Not only do these UV rays bring the heat, but they also cause our floors, rugs, carpet and furniture to fade. Faded fabric may have been big in the ’80s (think: jean jackets) but now, not so much. Fight nature’s bleaching tendencies with clear window film – it is easily applied to your windows and adds a layer of protection while it cuts down on costs.
Now that we’ve got a better handle on our heating and air consumption, let’s round out our limiting efforts with an extra control for good measure. Despite popular belief, dropping down the AC into subfreezing temperatures doesn’t make it cool faster – it already works at full throttle until it reaches the desired room temp – but each lowered degree adds about 7% to overall cooling costs.
However, cranking up the heat does push it into “Emergency Heat” (aka “most expensive”) mode. Either way, both are really inefficient, nay, downright wasteful modes of operation and even more unnecessary since the creation of the WiFi programmable thermostat.
With this little gem, you can control your home’s temperature with your smartphone, setting it to begin the warm up or cool down before you arrive home. With better control, you avoid the spikes and bursts that really pack a wallop on your wallet come electricity bill time. Also see these tips on Reducing Your Summer Cooling Bill.
Adjust your Water Heater’s Temperature
One of the most underutilized yet profitable changes you can make to your energy-draining appliances involves taking your water heater’s thermostat down a couple of notches – to 120 degrees. This simple change can save hundreds of dollars and eliminate tons of wasteful emissions a year.
How can five degrees cause that much damage / save that much on an annual basis, you ask? If you understand how the water heater works, it makes sense: the heating element is a metal rod that literally sits and simmers in a tank of water 24/7 so that you have hot water at your fingertips in an instant. By lowering the temperature the element must reach, you reduce the amount of energy it takes to get it there.
It’s a simple fact – all humans (especially teenagers, haha) love restrictions: on freedom, on phone calls, on bed times, on food, but most of all, on spending money and wasting energy.
What are some of the ways you’ve found to save a buck here and there around the house?
Author Bio: Jay Harris is a Home Depot “on the floor” sales associate and a regular contributor to Home Depot’s blog. Casement windows and exterior doors are among the products that Jay writes about for Home Depot.