You have to pay your utility bills no matter what they are (and what the temperature is outside)—but a few easy steps can help you trim your energy consumption. Consider some of these easy fixes and long-term solutions to save more and use less.
4 Easy Fixes to Trim Your Energy Bills
- Unplug when you can: According to the Department of Energy, those small appliances that you only need for part of the day—the microwave, phone charger, and coffee maker, for example—consume a whopping 10 percent of your yearly energy costs. Use, then unplug if possible.
- Become a gap sleuth: Just a slim gap of 1/8 inch around a door frame is about the same as having a 2.5-inch hole in a wall to the outside. To find out which doors and windows are contributing to your high energy bills, hold a lit candle close to the frames and see if a draft blows the flame. If so, consider sealing with plastic insulation kits or re-caulking windows, and boosting the weather stripping on doors.
- Turn down your water heater: One of the biggest energy hogs in your home might surprise you: your water heater. Many are set to 140º, but 120º works well for daily needs. And turning down your water heater by just 10 degrees may save you up to five percent on your energy bill. Want another way to trim water costs? Identify and fix any leaky faucets; a drip a minute equals a lost $1.
- Be tech-savvy: Technology continues to pay real dividends for homeowners, particularly when it comes to energy bills. Smart lighting options enable you to check whether you left lights on when you’re away from home, and smart blinds let you open and close window coverings to take advantage of sunlight or keep out nighttime drafts.
3 Ideas for Long-Term Energy Bill Solutions
- Get an energy audit or assessment: Your utility company typically offers these free, and they’ll visit you in your home to help identify key areas to upgrade to save energy. They may suggest boosts in under- or uninsulated areas, as well as offer suggestions on a new HVAC system, too.
- Plant some shade: Position new trees on the north and the west to block the coldest winds and summer’s most punishing rays. In addition, plant new trees to shade HVAC units to reduce air conditioning costs.
- Replace inefficient house systems: New dishwashers consume about half the water as those from the 1990s, and efficient laundry appliances may trim your energy bill by about 20 percent.