Reduce Energy Loss: For Homeowners and Renters Alike

There are two seasons of the year when you don't have to worry much about energy loss "" spring and fall. Other than the nice, pleasant days that you get during those seasons, you have to use technology to keep your home comfortable. Take advantage of those nice days by finding easy ways to save money and energy in your home. Heating and cooling is easily the biggest energy cost in a home and conserving energy is vital in any home. It accounts for about 48% of all the energy a house uses. Shaving that cost down a bit can make a huge difference in your energy bills. The following 8 ways will save you energy, whether you rent or own your home.

Plant Shrubs and Trees

Reduce Energy Loss: For Homeowners and Renters AlikeYou'll only want to work on this one if you plan to stay where you are for a while. But, if you do, then trees and shrubs around the house provide an extra layer of insulation. Trees cast shade on your home and protect the roof from snow. Bushes around the house help keep any warm or cold air that does escape close by.

Replace Drafty Windows

One of the biggest places to lose energy in your home is from old windows. If you're renting, you may be able to convince your landlord to spring for replacement, but if you own your home, you'll have to eat the cost. The most cost-effective option is to do it yourself. In either situation, replacing the windows will eventually pay for itself. If you're renting, you may not want to cover the cost of the window replacement. If that's the case, then use plastic wrap to cover the windows. It's not pretty, but it will keep the warmth in and the cold out.

Update the Weather Stripping

Most people will only update the weather stripping in the fall, right before winter. Doing it once a year is fine, so if that's your method, stick to it! But, if you forgot about it last fall or it hasn't been done to a new apartment, then spring is a great time to do it. Rips and worn areas can let in drafts on old weather stripping, but it's a cheap, easy fix for drafty areas. This is especially useful if you don't want to spend the money to replace the windows or doors.

Seal off Drafts

Drafts can sneak in from a lot of places. Doors and windows are the most obvious culprits, but you can get drafts from less expected areas. Chimneys, attics and even your garage door are potential problem areas. In areas where weather stripping doesn't work, caulk can often solve the problem. If you have a larger area, foam sealant will do the trick. Your local home improvement store should have weather stripping materials, caulk and garage door sealing kits available for the mentioned situations. The great thing here is that both options are incredibly inexpensive and will improve energy efficiency in your home.

Negotiate a Better Payment Arrangement

There are several options available for people who are looking to lower their heating and cooling costs. If you rent, try talking to your landlord. There may be a possibility to make your energy easier to pay. Some places will tell you heat is included in your bill, which can make it much easier to budget for. If you own your home, you can't ask your landlord to include your heating costs with your rent. You can talk to the government or electric company! They may have options you haven't heard about. Some energy companies have payment plans and arrangements for those that are facing financial difficulties. Others offer discounts and incentives for households that use less.

Turn Down the Thermostat

Keeping the heat turned down or the air conditioning turned up can be hugely beneficial. During the warmer months, 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature setting. If you can stand to raise it even more, you'll save 3% on your electric bill for every degree. That's huge! The 78 degrees is only for when you're home and awake. For winter, cranking your thermostat down will do the same. The danger here is that leaving it too low while you're gone could put you at risk for frozen pipes. For that reason, don't set your thermostat below 60. If you can sleep with it at 60, then you should do so the savings would be outrageous!

Get a Digital Thermostat

A digital, programmable thermostat can be very helpful in optimizing your energy usage. A programmable thermostat can help you save 10% a year by setting the thermostat to a more temperate degree when you're away from home. Simply set it to adjust to your daily routine, with it being the most comfortable when you're home, the least when you're away and somewhere in the middle for sleep. This is a simple fix that can make a huge difference in your energy bill.

Use the Windows

You're probably familiar with the idea of greenhouses, where the glass traps the heat and keeps the area warm. You experience it with your car every summer. Use that to your advantage at home. Open the windows to let the sun in when it's cold. It'll trap the heat inside. During the summer, heavy curtains can do the opposite. They'll block heat from the glass right around the window and help keep it from escaping into the room. You may not want to keep the curtains closed when you're home, but you can shut them while you're at work. Small adjustments can add up to a big difference. Implementing just one or two of these ideas can make you smile when you get your energy bill instead of cry.   About the Author: Megan Wild is a home improvement blogger who likes organizing and finding easy ways to make her home look better. Follow her on twitter @Megan_Wild.