Home & Garden

Want to reduce home utility costs? Start with LED bulbs, Energy Star appliances

Cost of LED lights has dropped dramatically

(File photo) Dan Alpers, graphic designer for Nesper, holds a broken bulb to show the LED lights inside onSept. 10, 2012, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
(File photo) Dan Alpers, graphic designer for Nesper, holds a broken bulb to show the LED lights inside onSept. 10, 2012, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

In every season there is a drain on your energy usage; however, there are a few ways that you can reduce your utility costs all year-round. A good place to begin is by switching out older appliances, lighting and other household items with more efficient products. Let’s examine the benefits of some of the most easily accessible products with which to outfit your home.

Let’s start with one of the most advantageous and also simplest of appliances — the light bulb. LED lighting is now the most efficient form of lighting; compared to other types of lighting, it uses up to six times less electricity and can last up to 25 times as long. While these bulbs were initially much more expensive than incandescent or the mercury-containing Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), their price has dropped dramatically to the point where they can be found for as low as $1 per bulb.

Reducing water waste is an increasingly crucial issue in America; luckily there are options that allow any homeowner to cut back on their water usage while also saving money. Start by checking your shower heads and the faucet aerators of your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Switching to low-flow models can immensely reduce the annual water usage of any household.

Next, look at your toilet. Older models can be up to 60 percent less efficient than their newer counterparts; that is roughly 4,000 gallons a year. If you are not quite ready to make the plunge into buying a new toilet, it is at least recommended to check for water leakage; this may be done by placing a dye tablet into the tank of your toilet. If the dyed water is later found in the bowl, then you have a leak. No need to fret, however, as these are generally an easy fix requiring minimal prior experience or knowledge.

If you are looking to replace older appliances, such as a water heater or furnace, a solid place to start is by checking the different rebates offered by your local utility companies and retailers. Look for the Energy Star certification when shopping for new appliances; there is a wealth of savings to be had for both you and the environment.

There are some other conventional methods to reduce your appliance usage without replacing them altogether; including air-drying clothes, shorter showers and the installation of a programmable thermostat to regulate heating a cooling.

Another recently-emerged resource for energy saving tips is available from your phone. Nowadays there is an app for everything, including home efficiency.

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Another way to begin outfitting your home is to sign up for a free home-energy test by the Green Iowa AmeriCorps. In addition to air testing and sealing, this service provides complementary items, including LED light bulbs, programmable thermostats and sink aerators.

l Danny Parrish is marketing coordinator for Green Iowa AmeriCorps, which is coordinated by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education. Find out more at www.greeniowaamericorps.org.

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