Winter Is Coming: Tips for Saving Energy and Slashing Your Electricity Bill


By Evan Wade

You don’t have to spend a small country’s GDP on your utility bills this holiday season: Improving home energy efficiency before the cold weather truly starts can be just what you need to stay ahead of the curve. Check out these tips for saving energy and see how you can apply them to your own residence.

Use Home Automation Tools for Fun and Profit

Home automation products have undergone a renaissance in recent years, thanks to the convenience and “cool factor” they offer. And while being able to control critical home administration functions from your phone or desktop is a reward all its own, many of these tools can also be used for improving home energy efficiency.

Take the Nest Learning Thermostat, a Wi-Fi-connected thermostat that can save users up to 12 percent on their home heating costs. The wildly popular smart thermostat works its energy-saving magic by learning your schedule and applying it to your home temperature preferences. Features such as home/away assist, for example, search to see if your phone is nearby. If it isn’t, the thermostat assumes you aren’t home and drops temperatures to a lower preset until your return. It also uses simple iconography and recent heating/cooling history to educate users on their energy efficiency, helping further lower utility bills.

Other automation products tackle energy efficiency the old-fashioned way—namely, using way less electricity than similar products. The 8.5-watt bulbs found in the Philips Hue White A19 Starter Kit have enough power to provide the same light as many 60-watt bulbs. Throw in a large increase in lifespan (15,000 hours for Hue and 1,500 for standard bulbs) and smartphone-based control/customization tools similar to Nest’s, and you have a product that offers endless utility and significant energy savings.

Think Small, Save Big

Sometimes, the best tips for saving energy focus on small improvements. Even if you don’t have a single huge issue to address, tackling multiple minor concerns can save a lot of energy over time.

Take, for instance, the advice about unplugging electronics when we aren’t using them. Though none of us want to crawl behind the entertainment center every time we stop watching TV, gadgets like the Smart Strip Energy Saving Surge Protector offer a better way. It recognizes when you turn off the TV or a light and cuts all power to it until you turn it back on. Applied to every device in your home, eliminating this so-called “vampire drain” can result in major energy savings in a short period.

Other supposedly small changes can have an immediate impact on your light bill. Roughly 10 percent of our electric bills go to home lighting, according to statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, making gadgets like the Dual Tech Motion Sensor Light Switch perfect energy-saving companions. If you aren’t in the room, a timeout setting will shut the lights off. Combine it with energy-efficient bulbs like the above-mentioned Hue or this compact fluorescent alternative from Square Perfect and you’ve found a simple-yet-effective approach to saving energy.

More Tips for Saving Energy

Of course, you don’t have to go all high tech to save energy in your home. Take the ever-popular “draft stoppers” that show up on store shelves around this time of year: Products like Duck’s Double Draft Door Seal keep cold air out on one side and warm air in on the other, saving you from a shock-worthy heating bill.

However you go about energy savings, make sure you’re giving it due diligence. Between environmental responsibility and the simple fact that nobody likes to pay a $400 utility bill during the holiday season, everyone’s got some reason to do a better job of saving energy—especially when it gives you an excuse to buy more gadgets.

Eliminate "vampire drain" with the Smart Strip Energy Saving Surge Protector, available from WalMart.


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