October is Energy Awareness Month

Stock Graphic Electric Bill And Savings

October is Energy Awareness Month, a time to learn about energy use and identify ways to improve your household’s energy efficiency. Here are resources and tips from AHFC’s department of Research and Rural Development to help you get started.

Improving Energy Efficiency

Homeowners may benefit from hiring an energy rater to perform an inspection of their home and identify areas that need improvement. Right now, homeowners can receive a tax credit of 30% of the cost for a Home Energy Audit, up to $150.

Depending on what the energy rater identifies, or if you’re noticing your utility bills are unexpectedly high, it might be time to consider basic upgrades. Some of the simplest and most effective steps include:

  • Sealing air leaks. Air leaks around windows, doors and other openings in your home can let in cold air from the outside. Sealing these leaks can make a big difference in your energy bills. You can seal air leaks with caulk, weatherstripping and other DIY materials.
  • Adding insulation. Adding insulation to your attic, walls and floors can reduce your energy consumption by up to 15%. Depending on your project, you can hire a professional or may be able to do the work yourself.
  • Upgrading appliances and light bulbs. Older appliances and light bulbs are often less energy efficient than newer models. Upgrading to ENERGY STAR certified appliances and LED light bulbs can save you money by reducing your daily energy use.

Low-Cost Upgrades

If you aren’t quite ready to tackle attic insulation or purchase new appliances, low-cost upgrades include:

  • Installing wall plate and outlet insulators, also called socket sealers. These go behind the wall plate cover to help reduce drafts and the amount of cold air coming into the home.
  • While new windows look nice, they are expensive, and it can take several years to see a return on investment. A low-cost alternative is to caulk around the windows and trim, install weatherstripping or place plastic film over a window.

View Energy Saving Tips for Alaskans for other low-cost solutions.

Cost-Saving Habits

In addition to these maintenance steps and upgrades, you may be able to save on utilities by making small changes to your daily habits:

  • Unplug electronics when you're not using them. Even when they're turned off or in sleep mode, many electronics (especially gaming consoles) continue to use power. Unplugging them when you're not using them can save you money on your electricity bill.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Heating water accounts for about 90% of the energy used to wash clothes. Switching to cold water can save you money on your energy bill without sacrificing cleaning performance.
  • Set your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter. Every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter can save you 1% on your heating bill.

Making small changes to your energy habits can add up to big savings over time. For more energy saving tips and educational resources, visit ahfc.us/efficiency.