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4 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bills Over Time

Save on Utilities by Making Energy Modifications to Your Home

© 2013 by Kelly R. Smith

Photo of Kelly R. Smith

A tubular skylight; image courtesy Stefan_Kuhn

A tubular skylight; image courtesy Stefan_Kuhn

This article was updated on 05/14/21.

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Are you interested in trimming your electricity and/or natural gas bills? The good news is that it’s possible. The bad news is that it requires some outlay of cash and there isn’t much instant gratification; it is a long-term process.

  1. Install Skylights to Provide Natural Lighting.

    While it is true that skylights will only provide free lighting for half the day (yes, when the sun is out), you can’t argue against the fact that every little bit helps. Good candidates for skylights are the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

    Tubular styles are very popular because they are so easy to install. There is also some room for dealing with tricky angles around rafters and bracing in the attic space.

    Some are Energy Star rated which lends a bit of confidence and credibility. Also, Energy Star skylights qualify for a federal energy tax credit.

    Energy-efficient windows also fall in this category and there are plenty of options today. They also qualify for an energy tax credit.

    If you happen to be renovating your home rather than undergoing new construction, it is worth thinking about upgrading and relocating energy efficient replacement windows.

  2. Install Ridge Vents on Your Roof.

    Solar attic fans garner quite a bit of press, and they can indeed be effective, but they have a drawback; like skylights, they only function if the sun is shining. Unless, of course, you incorporate a storage battery like solar security lighting does.

    Likewise, “whirlybird” wind turbines are only effective when the wind is blowing, plus, they are so old school. And don’t forget that it is precisely on those calm hot days when they are needed the most. Ironic, isn't it?

    Ridge vents are a much better solution! These run along the ridge(s) of your roof and allow the heated air to flow out because hot air rises and the prevailing wind gives it a helping hand to do the Houdini thing.. To be effective though, you will need many soffit vents and ensure that they are not plugged up with insulation. The more, the merrier, as they say. They do still say that don't they?

    There is one caveat—turbines and ridge vents should not be used in conjunction because short circuit air flow; outside air can come through the turbine and exit thorough the ridge. The lower air (and heavy humidity) will not exit effectively, if at all on windy days. Beware: some roofing contractors will sell you both saying that the set-up will be twice as effective, when the opposite is true!

  3. Install a Tankless Water Heater.

    These money-saving heaters have long been used in Europe and are starting to take hold in the USA. Although they are gaining in popularity, the introduction is so new that the relevant building codes are all over the place. Consistency is not the hallmark of government operation.

    The main concept that we are concerned with here with respect to reducing energy bills is that they are instantaneous and on-demand; tankless water heaters don’t store hot water when it is not needed like conventional models do. All that constant heating doesn't make much sense, does it?

    Tankless on-demand water heaters are available in both electric and gas-fired models. They also come in different sizes so you can cover the whole home or use them as a back up. Installation is not usually a DIY task (especially with gas models), unless of course you are an electrician. Be aware that in some areas it may be necessary to pull a building permit; don't circumvent the code.
  4. Switch Out Incandescent Lights to LEDs.

    LED bulbs had some performance issues in the early ways of development but the technology is improving rapidly. Consider the benefits of LED lighting.

    Yes, they are quite expensive but considering their efficiency and long lifespan (some can last 55,000 hours as opposed to incandescents which come in at about 2000), they’re not a bad bet.

    What about the popular compact fluorescents? While it’s true that they are economical, they still have an issue with that pesky toxic mercury. Another annoyance is the long time they take to get their glow on.

    It’s frustrating to have to turn on the bathroom lights, and then come back five minutes later to actually use it.

These are just a sampling of steps to save money and reduce your energy bills; there are many more out there. My take on this is that it is a cumulative process; many small steps add up to big savings.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at Considered Opinions Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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