Ask a D.C. Expert: Five Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

January 29, 2016 8:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Many people would consider a lower energy bill a dream come true. Seasonal weather can take its toll and impact how frequently a household relies on heating and cooling. Everyday life also places high dependence on the use of utilities, lighting and other forms of energy in general. Many people don’t even realize just how much energy they consume until they receive their monthly energy bill, but the good news is that there are ways to lower your bill by making just a few simple adjustments. Mike Dietrich, sustainability manager with McKissack and McKissack in Washington, D.C., has a couple of helpful tips and suggestions to consider.
Mike Dietrich
McKissack and McKissack
901 K St., N.W.
Washington DC 20001
(202) 372-7852
www.mckissackdc.comIn addition to serving as sustainability manager, Mike Dietrich is also an environmental scientist, bestselling author and the founder of Renew and Sustain in Washington, D.C. With over 12 years of experience in the sustainable development field, Dietrich has worked diligently in his career and has taken on a number of diverse topics including conservation and green efforts. He has even appeared on television a number of times and has been quoted as an expert on various environmental issues in the New York Times, Epoch Times and other publications.

Air Seal Your Form From Air Leaks  Make sure that you are closing and locking your windows, especially in the winter, so that they have a good seal. Be sure to check all the entryways too. If you see light coming in from around a door, or if you feel cold air blowing in, there is an air leak. Weather stripping is really affordable and will stop the air from coming in around doors. Spray foam, caulk and weather stripping are simple and effective air-sealing techniques that offer quick returns on investment, often one year or less.

LED Light BulbsLighting accounts for 12 percent of your energy bill and a typical halogen bulb can rack lighting costs up to as much as $13.35 per fixture based on 2,000 burn hours. However, an LED bulb uses around $1.87 per fixture, saving you 86 percent per fixture. What’s even more interesting is that an LED bulb will last 45,000 hours, whereas a halogen will last you around 3,000 hours. Decreasing replacement by 15 times saves you money on trips to the store and additional purchases.

Space Heating And Cooling A home’s heating and cooling costs alone make up 46 percent of an energy bill. One way to reduce your bill by as much as 15 percent is to have a five-degree setback when you are away at work or on vacation. This accounts for a savings of as much as one percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. An ideal set point for the summer months is 75 degrees; the ideal set point during the winter is 68 degrees.

Related: Ask A D.C. Expert: Decorating Your First Apartment On A Budget

Energy Efficient Appliances Even simple changes like replacing current older appliances with newer ones can help you lower your energy bill. Be sure to always look for Energy Star appliances and go with the most efficient. Newer appliances use 60 to 80 percent less energy than their older counterparts. Therefore, upgrading the oven, refrigerator, water heater and other appliances will significantly reduce the amount of energy you use in your home.

Water HeatingMany people don’t think about the water energy nexus and how it can impact their energy bills. Water heating accounts for 18 percent of home energy usage, and reducing your water heater temperature setting to 120 degrees will save you money and still be hot enough for showers and dishes. Insulate the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater and wrap your water heater. A better option is to get an on-demand water heater, and the best option is to have a solar hot water heater. Using cold water while doing a full load laundry is also a good idea.

Related: Where To Buy Solar For Your Home In Washington DC

Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.

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