OCTOBER 2015 ;e Costco Connection 41
By Leah Ingram
WHEN COSTCO MEMBER Kathleen
Celmins bought a house in Portland, Oregon,
last year, she knew she wanted to save money
and energy, and had a NEST smart programmable thermostat installed. It was a smart
move on her part. Celmins cut her energy bill
in half. She used to spend about 8 cents per
square foot in her previous home; in her new
2,000-square-foot house, her energy bills now
average roughly 4 cents per square foot.
The U.S. Department of Energy has designated October as Energy Action Month.
Here are easy energy-saving changes from a
variety of experts, government sources and
organizations that you can make around the
house that will save you money, too.
Lower your water heater thermostat. Most water heaters come set at 140
F. Parents of young children likely have
already lowered that temperature to 120 F to
help avoid burns. Turns out it is good advice
to avoid burning through cash, too. According
to Energy Star, for every 10 degrees you lower
that temperature, you can save as much as $30
per year on energy costs.
Install a programmable thermostat. The notion behind one of these is that
it is programmed to heat or cool based on
when you’re there, sleeping or away. If you
for the home
The Costco Connection
Costco carries a variety of Energy Star-
rated appliances, as well as power strips,
LED bulbs and other items to help reduce
energy consumption and costs.
pires. Suzanne Jones, COO of the Association
of Energy Services Professionals in Phoenix,
suggests looking for smart power strips that
know when a plugged-in product is not being
used. “It powers down to a trickle. Then, as
soon as the device is reengaged, it powers
back up,” explains Jones, a Costco member.
You’ll earn back the investment before
the year is out. “A large-screen TV with a
DVR, using a smart power strip, will save
$150 a year in energy costs,” she adds.
Seal around windows and
doors. “When it first starts getting cold,” says
Celmins (she and her husband are the pod-
casters behind Stacking Benjamins, a financial
stackingbenjamins.com), “we go
through the house and do a hand audit on all
windows to check for drafts.”
If necessary, they add weather stripping
purchased for about $10. In their rental they
added stripping to a drafty door; their heating
bill the next month dropped by $40. According
to Energy Star, using caulk, adding weather
stripping and increasing insulation in drafty
areas can help save as much as 15 percent on
heating and cooling bills.
Swap out light bulbs. When most
people think about replacing light bulbs to
save money, they think about replacing incandescent with compact fluorescent. But Costco
member Robert Farrington found LED (
light-emitting diode) bulbs to be a better bet. He
spent $200 on all-new LED bulbs for his San
Diego house. The next month, Farrington
saw his energy bill drop $100.
have an unpredictable schedule, you may
want to upgrade to a “smart” thermostat,
which allows you to tweak the heating and
cooling schedule on the fly via a smartphone.
Why is setting temperature so important?
For every one-degree difference, you could
save 5 percent on your annual energy bill,
says Heather Kirkendall, Florida Power &
Light spokesperson in Juno Beach, Florida.
Plug in a smart power strip.
Electronics that stay plugged in, using energy
even when dormant, are called energy vam-
BUYING NEW Energy Star–rated appliances could be a smart
move, as newer appliances use less energy than their older
counterparts. But if you’re not sure if the upfront cost is worth
the savings, an online savings calculator can help. Many
utility companies offer these. The Energy Star website
has one of these calculators, too. It’s called the
Appliance Savings Calculator and lets you download a pre-filled Excel spreadsheet so you
can crunch the numbers (go to energy
star.gov and search “Appliance
Online savings calculators
COMPUTERMAN / SHUTTERSTOCK
Go low-flow. You could painlessly save
as much as 65 percent of what you pay for
public water by simply installing low-flow
shower heads and faucets in all tubs, showers
Even if you use only one of these tips,
you’ll definitely be saving energy around the
house and money on your bills. C
Costco member Leah Ingram, founder of the
Suddenly Frugal blog ( suddenlyfrugal.com),
enjoys writing about saving money.