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Friday, July 02, 2010
Cutting Down on Home Energy Costs: Lessons from Europe

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By Michael K.

With the economy in its present state, it’s nice to cut costs wherever you can. As petroleum price are on the rise, energy consumption is a fantastic way to do that. Sometimes, just how to do this without affecting our quality of life can be a tricky question. Luckily, our neighbors to the east have quite a bit of experience with high energy costs, and have adapted their homes to cut down on these costs without infringing on their lifestyles. What follows here is a look at a few simple ways to reduce your monthly household energy bill by taking a few pointers from our European friends.Go Green, Save Money

Comparatively low shares of European households have central heating and air. So, when it gets a little too chilly in the winter, alternative measures to flipping on the heat have to be taken. Try a:

  • Radiator:  If you live in an older house, this may already be an option for you. Radiators allow users to heat just a portion of their home at a time, drastically reducing heating costs.

  • Space heater: Like a radiator, space heaters warm just the area of the house you’re in. They’re super portable, which allows you use just one for the entire house. In addition, you can use it places you thought you were doomed to freeze, like the chilly bathroom after a shower!

  • Blanket: It’s old-fashioned, but it works. If you’re the only one in the house at the time, you might not turn on a heater at all.

When it’s hot out, use a:

  • Window A/C unit: It might remind you of college or your first apartment, but newer window A/C units are incredibly efficient and allow users to cool off just one portion of the house at a time.

  • Portable fan: Like a window unit, portable fans allow you to concentrate your energy consumption into doing exactly what you want: to get cool!

  • Or, open the windows: If you’ve never tried it before, you’ll be amazed at how well a little cross breeze can cool your home.

Another amazing way many residents of Europe have managed to reduce energy costs is the use of a tankless water heater. Compared to our water heaters, which continually collect, heat, and re-heat stores of water, tankless water heaters heat only the water being used at any given time, and do it using less energy. What’s more, they never run out of hot water! They also take up comparatively less space. If you own your own home, you may look into purchasing a tankless water heater. It will definitely pay for itself.

Lastly, and it’s a cliché, but turn out the light! The average European resident uses almost no artificial light during summer days, and very little the rest of the year. What’s their secret? Adaptable living spaces allow light to enter the home, and to reflect it once it’s in. Simple steps like opening the blinds during the day (which goes great with opening the windows during the summer!) and painting your walls to reflect available light can go a long way toward cutting down on your light usage.

We could all use a little help cutting down on our power bill these days. Thankfully we know just who to look to for pointers!

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