There are many different approaches you can take to lower your monthly spending. One place to look is your energy bill. Odds are you’re paying more than necessary to heat, cool, light, and power your home. With these tips, you can save money every month with minimal effort.
How to Save on Heating and Cooling
The furnace and air conditioner account for as much as half of your total energy bills. Tame these energy-hogging beasts first, and your efforts will have a noticeable impact.
1. Install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to set the ideal temperature for the morning, daytime, evening, and nighttime, all based on your specific schedule. As a result, you reduce wasteful heating and cooling when you’re gone all day or asleep at night, but you still return home and wake up to a comfortable environment. A smart thermostat is even better because you can control it from anywhere using an internet-connected device.
2. Stay comfortable with less heating and cooling. In addition to programming setback periods when you’re away or sleeping, plan to set the thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re home in the summer. To keep from overheating, dress in cool clothes, run the ceiling fan, apply a damp cloth to your neck, and drink ice-cold water. Then, set the thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home in the winter. To stay warm, dress in more layers, use hand warmers, and drink tea or hot chocolate.
3. Seal and insulate. You want your home to act like a food cooler in the summer and a thermos in the winter. To achieve this, you need to tackle as many air leaks and poorly insulated areas as possible. Common leaky areas include windows and doors, electrical boxes, plumbing pipes, vents, and ductwork. Add insulation to key areas as well, such as the attic, walls, floors, crawlspace, basement, and soffits.
4. Pay attention to heat gain. In the summer, interior heat gain is your enemy. To help take some of the strain off your air conditioner, try to keep your home as cool as possible by hanging blackout curtains, waiting until the evening to use the oven or clothes dryer, and using a laptop instead of a heat-generating desktop computer. In the winter, a warm interior is your goal. To reduce your reliance on the furnace, let the sun shine in through the windows and bake to your heart’s content.
How to Save on Water Heating
Water heating is the second-largest contributor to your energy bills. While buying a more efficient water heater is an effective way to save, you can still lower your energy use without making a hefty investment.
5. Use less hot water. This means taking shorter showers, replacing old faucets and showerheads with low-flow versions, and washing clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.
6. Turn down the water heater temperature. The default temperature setting is 140 degrees. Lower this to 120 degrees to reduce your water heating costs. As a bonus, this also decreases the chance of scalding at the tap. If you’re going out of town, turn the knob to the “vacation” setting to save even more while you’re away.
7. Insulate and maintain the water heater. Place your hand on the water heater tank. If it feels warm, it’s losing heat and wasting money. Add an insulating jacket to reduce this standby heat loss. Flushing the appliance once a year also helps remove sediment buildup from the bottom of the tank that decreases efficiency.
How to Save on Lighting and Power
The lights throughout your home and anything you plug into an outlet account for the remainder of your energy bills. You can keep your electricity use under control with a few simple tips.
8. Replace your light bulbs. If you still have old incandescent bulbs in your house, swap them out for highly efficient LEDs, which consume up to 80 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
9. Use electronics and appliances wisely. This means turning off lights, computers, TVs, and other devices when not in use. One of the easiest ways to do this is to plug multiple gadgets into a single power strip. Then, when you’re done watching TV or browsing the web, you can shut off everything at once with the flip of a switch. Smart power strips are even more convenient, turning on and off at assigned times, via remote switches, based on the status of a “master” device, or during periods of inactivity.
10. Use energy-intensive appliances less. You might need to do some tasks differently, but you’ll save energy as a result. For instance, microwaving food is faster and uses less energy than cooking on the stove or baking in the oven. Hang-drying your clothes eliminates the need to use the dryer. And waiting until the dishwasher is full before you run it limits hot water waste.
Remember, when you limit your energy consumption, you’re not just saving money — you’re also doing the environment a favor.