Eco-Friendly Lighting

Save energy and lower utility bills by changing the lighting in your home

A few changes in yourEcoFriendlyLighting2 home lighting can greatly reduce your energy usage, resulting in a cleaner environment and lower utility bills. Whether it’s installing dimmer switches or changing the type of light bulbs you use, even a small adjustment can yield big results.

Dimmer switches
In just a few minutes, you can change regular flip light switches to dimmer switches. Dimmer switches allow you to control the amount of light (or energy) you want to use in a room. By dimming lights in certain rooms or areas when you don’t need full lighting, you can quickly recoup your cost for dimmer switches and see significant energy savings.

Different light bulbs
If you’re using older incandescent light bulbs, you’ll notice energy savings right away if you switch to more energy-efficient bulbs. If you do not want to waste your old incandescent bulbs, continue to use them until they burn out, and gradually replace them with CFL, halogen or LED light bulbs. While these bulbs cost more upfront, they last longer and consume as much as 98 percent less energy than their older counterparts. Energy-efficient bulbs offer a range of hues depending on the type used (e.g., LED bulbs burn with a bright white light), so experiment with several types before deciding on which mood you want to create in your home.

Paint color
Painting your ceilings white or light colors can help overhead lighting disperse light more evenly. Dark colors absorb light, so painting a ceiling or room a very dark color will require a significant amount of energy to illuminate properly. White reflects light.

When an overhead lighting fixture is turned on in a room with a white ceiling, the light is reflected from the ceiling to the entire room. When deciding what colors to paint the main rooms of your home, using white and lighter colors on the ceiling will help you save on energy costs.

Solar power
Focusing on renewable sources of energy, such as solar panels, is the best option for reducing energy usage. During daylight hours, solar panels can provide all the energy needed to light a home. While other sources of energy may be required at night, solar power can greatly reduce the amount of energy your home uses overall. The cost of installing solar panels varies widely, so be sure to shop around and check local, state and federal incentive programs to learn whether this is a viable option for you.

While the installation of skylights may not be practical for many, if you are in the process of remodeling your home, skylights are an option to consider. Installing skylights in the main rooms of your home can provide natural light during the day, so you do not need to turn on lighting in some rooms.

Changes in lighting within your home do not need to take place all at once. Begin with one step (such as turning off lights when leaving a room) and then gradually change other habits. Small changes over time can yield big results in energy savings and your utility bills.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

How to Do a Home Energy Audit

Save money on your future electric bills with an independent review

As the record-breaking winteristock_home-energy_1 weather clears in most areas of the country, many families are experiencing higher-than-usual energy usage. This additional energy consumption not only leads to expensive energy bills, but can be damaging to the overall environment. Consider conducting an energy audit of your home to save on future bills. Many energy providers offer audits to their customers at no charge, but if yours doesn’t, consider spending an afternoon conducting your own home energy audit.

Seal any air leaks
On a chilly or windy day, check every closed window and door in your home to see if you feel air drafts coming through the openings. If you find drafty windows or doors, seal them properly to prevent air from seeping through.

Check insulation
Venture upstairs to your attic and evaluate the insulation there. If there is proper insulation, check to be sure the insulation is still in its intended place and has not fallen or been misplaced. Look closely for wet spots, decay or signs of animals. If there are leaks in the roof, have them fixed by a professional or repair them on your own.

Service heating and cooling equipment
Maintain your furnace and air-conditioner by having them checked by a professional every one to two years. If your current equipment results in large energy bills, consider replacing your units with more energy-efficient, cost-effective units.

Replace light bulbs
Standard light bulbs can result in high energy bills. As your light bulbs burn out, replace them with more energy efficient bulbs for increased savings.

Check appliances and electronics
Check your appliances for energy efficiency. If you have a deep freezer that is almost empty, use the contents and unplug it until you have more food items to store. Unplug televisions and computers at night to lower the use of “phantom energy” (the energy used when items are plugged into the wall, but not turned on). Unplug cell phone chargers when they are not in use.

Keep track of your energy bills
Check your energy bill each month and make note of any major increases in usage. If possible, determine what caused the increase in usage and make changes. Did you run a dehumidifier, operate a window air-conditioning unit, etc.?

Keep track of your energy improvements
As you go through your audit, note any changes you want to make. Write down the date you made any changes, and then re-evaluate those changes when you receive your upcoming energy bills. If you want to use a pre-printed form, provides a printable checklist to keep track of your independent audit and the resulting changes.

Taking time out of your schedule for an independent energy audit is time well-spent. Small, incremental changes can often result in substantial savings in energy usage and a lower energy bill.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.