Whether it is extremely hot or cold, homeowners and renters alike can face very large utility bills. As energy costs continue to increase we can anticipate that our costs are likely to continue in an upward trend. With utility costs increasing and the troubled economy everyone is looking for ways to save money. There are a few ways that may be effective at reducing home utility costs. Here are a few ideas on ways to save on utility bills without making huge investments of time or money.
Adding Insulation and Weather-stripping
Whether it is summer or winter the home can be more comfortable for less money if it is well insulated. Energy Star has estimated that about 20% of your heating and cooling costs can be saved by adequately insulating the home. Adding insulation is a relatively easy task which you can do yourself and almost immediately start realizing savings. Don’t forget that you can also insulate your water heater and help save some on water heating costs. Light switches and electrical outlets can also be insulated to prevent leakage of air. This is especially useful if they are on an outside wall. Weather-stripping is also an easy do-it-yourself project that will not require a lot of time or expense. Weather-stripping around doors can help keep indoor air inside and outdoor air out which means your heater or air conditioner will not have to work as hard to keep you comfortable.
Use Appliances Wisely
During the hot summer months shift the chores that involve appliances to early morning or late evening hours. The electrical company suggests that it will be less of a pull on their system during the off hours and this can mean savings for you. Run appliances that tend to heat up the house during off peak hours. Ovens, dishwashers and dryers can all heat up the house and make the air conditioner work harder to keep it cool so do these chores during hours when it is cooler outside. When you use the dishwasher, make sure it is fully loaded so that you can run it fewer times a day. You can also turn the drying feature off on the dishwasher and allow the dishes to air dry once they are clean. When washing clothes, use cold water instead of warm water. These are all little things that can add up to savings.
Small Changes Make a Big Difference
By using ceiling fans your home can feel cooler which means you can be comfortable even with the air set a few degrees warmer. Unplug gadgets such as cell phone chargers which are not being used; they can generate heat. Standby power that is used for appliances which are not being used can make up 5 to 10 percent of a utility bill. Instead of keeping them on standby power, use a power strip that can be turned off when they are not in use. Changing out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents can also help reduce the electric bill. These newer light bulbs use less electricity plus they generate less heat. Closing the blinds or pulling shades can effectively block direct sunlight can help keep the temperature in a room from rising too much during certain hours of the day.
During the hours that the house is empty adjust the thermostat a few degrees. If you have a programmable thermostat it can be set to return to a comfortable temperature before you return. Replace filters in heaters and air conditioners frequently as a dirty filter can restrict the flow of air and make the unit have to work harder to do its job.