We’re in the thick of winter and your natural gas bill is likely creeping higher each month. Get advice on saving money on your energy bill with these simple steps.
Here are six ways you can save money by lowering your utility bills.
- Hot Water Costs
Heating water is one of the biggest drains on household power. It accounts for 18% of your home’s energy use. There are a few ways you can reduce consumption.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. 90% of the cost of washing a load of clothes comes from heating the water. Laundry detergent works in cold water or, if you prefer, buy special detergent for cold water.
- Install low-flow faucets and shower heads. It will save on water heating costs and actual water bills.
- Lower the thermostat on your hot water tank from 140°F to 120°F. 120°F is adequate for bathing, dishes, laundry, etc.
- Wrap An Old Hot Water Tank
If you’ve recently installed a new hot water tank, it is likely already insulated. If you have an older one, the U.S. Energy Department says you can reduce standby heat loss by 25-45%, if you wrap your tank. That equates to a savings of 4-9% each year. It should pay for itself in about a year.
- Call your local utility company to see if they offer insulating blankets for hot water tanks. Or, check if they offer a rebate on billing costs if you install one.
- You can buy insulating blankets for about $20 through plumbing and home improvement stores. (The U.S. Dept. of Energy has instructions on how to do it yourself in about 1.5 hours.
- Unplug Devices
You can reduce energy used by home electronics with the following tips:
- Use a power bar for multiple electronics in one location. Turn the bar off when not in use. Even when turned off, other home electronics consume energy in standby mode to power clocks and displays.
- A laptop uses less energy than a desktop computer. When shopping for a new computer, consider the smaller, more energy-efficient version. Set it to sleep or hibernate mode instead of using screen saver when inactive.
- Unplug battery chargers when batteries are fully charged, or not being used. Most chargers will draw a continuous supply of power even when there’s nothing being charged.
- Use Insulating Window Treatments
Heat escapes from windows, whether they’re open or not. This is especially true in older homes without newer windows installed.
To prevent heat loss of up to 40% in older homes, a cheap and easy solution is to use insulated window treatments. They can reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in winter.
Look for window coverings that will not only complement your décor, but also save you money.
- Add a liner to existing draperies. The room-side of the drapery will stay closer to room temperature, meaning greater comfort. During the winter, close draperies at night for a 10% savings on heat loss.
- If looking for new window coverings, consider pleated or cellular shades and Roman blinds. They’re designed with dead air spaces to increase their insulating capacity.
- Stop Air Leaks
Aside from the usual sources of heat loss like around doors and windows, use weather stripping and expandable insulating foam to seal up gaps and spaces around the house.
Weather stripping comes in many different widths and depths. Its peel-away adhesive backing makes installation easy.
Use expandable foam to fill small to large gaps both inside and outside the home. Look for potential air loss at these sites:
- Where phone lines and cables enter the home
- Around your clothes dryer and air vents
- Around plumbing, pipes and electrical boxes
- Around door frames and window frames
- Where the foundation and siding meet
- In The Kitchen
The kitchen is a great place to reduce energy consumption.
- Stop peeking in the oven. Each time the oven door is opened, the oven’s temperature can drop by as much as 25°F, which then has to be recovered.
- Use the ‘Fast Wash’ cycle and ‘Air Dry’ features on the dishwasher to cut back on energy consumption, and reduce heating in the kitchen.