Heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. It seems like there’s no avoiding high energy bills, no matter the season. Inefficient light bulbs and power-hungry appliances can eat up more than their fair share of electricity. If you’ve been eying your energy bill as it creeps ever higher, here are three likely causes that you can start combating right now.
1. Poor insulation and weatherstripping
Your home is probably full of air leaks, even if you can’t feel them. By sealing these leaks, you can stop heated air from escaping during the winter and prevent your air conditioning from running off during the summer.
Use weatherstripping for moveable objects like doors and windows and caulk for stationary objects like walls and window frames. Then make sure your house is fully insulated by checking the crawlspaces, attic, basement and walls.
Another step you can take is to upgrade your windows and doors to more energy-efficient models. Upgrading from single pane windows can save you up to 600 dollars a year, depending on how many windows you have. Head to vinyl-lite.com for a look at which windows can save you the most.
2. Old appliances hogging energy
Even something as simple as swapping out traditional light bulbs for more energy-friendly ones like LED or CFL bulbs can save you over 50 dollars a year, according to the Department of Energy.
Low-flow showheads and more efficient toilets can also help you cut your utilities bill down significantly. And if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then get one immediately, because that’s another 100 dollars you could be saving. If you use a lot of electronics, then you may also want to consider investing in a more advanced power strip that prevents powered down appliances from consuming any electricity.
Your water heater
Water heaters are major electricity hogs. The easiest way to stop them from eating away at your bank account is to simply use less hot water or to turn the temperature on your water heater down. You can also insulate your water heater and some of its piping (generally the first six feet). Energy-efficient water heaters are also available if your water heater is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Check for leaks and other inefficiencies
You could be spending a lot of extra money on water that you never use if you have a leaking toilet or faucet. Try fixing the faucet yourself to make sure you’re not sinking your energy savings into a plumbing bill.
All of these may seem like little steps, but they add up to a huge chunk of your electricity bill.
3. Bad electricity habits
This is the hardest tip and also the easiest. Adjusting our routines to consume less energy can be a nuisance at first, but unlike the other options on this list, doing so requires no money upfront, just a little effort.
Turn the lights off when you aren’t in the room. Don’t leave your television or video game consoles on while you’re not using them. Consider washing the dishes by hand or hanging the laundry out to dry. Even turning the shower off while you apply shampoo or other products can save you money if you make a habit out of it. Other electricity-saving habits include:
- Taking shorter showers – If you want to relax for awhile, opt for a bath.
- Washing laundry on the cold setting – Even switching the temperature to cold for a few loads a week can save you money.
- Unplugging unused devices – Up to 10 percent of the electricity used by a device may be used while the device is turned off.
- Running full loads of laundry – Don’t wreck your washing machine, but try to run full loads so you’re not wasting water and heat.
- Letting your dishes air dry – The heated dry option on your dishwasher is largely unnecessary.
- Using a laptop instead of a desktop computer – Unless you have reason to need the power of a desktop computer, switching to a laptop will save you money as well as space.
- Optimizing for natural light – Consider landscaping and designing for optimal natural light.
Read your energy bill
If you’re like most people, then you pay your bill grudgingly and without looking too closely. You may even have automated payments set up. Yet it’s worth taking a glance at your bill every month to help you maximize your savings potential.
How you save the most money is going to depend on where you’re spending it in the first place. Your utility company should track this information for you. On each monthly bill, you’ll see a breakdown of your energy costs. Look at the areas where you spend a lot and try to focus on cutting back where it’s costing you the most.