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More and more people are working from home, so rising utility bills are a big concern.
Installing solar panels, buying energy-efficient appliances, and installing new windows and low-flow toilets are great ways to save money… but those are big capital investments.
We can do small things to save money on our utility bills. The first thing is to evaluate how efficient your home with this government website: https://hes.lbl.gov/consumer.
Here are 15 ways to lower your utility bills without making huge purchases:
I remember when my friends moved from Southern California to the Denver area. I went to visit them at their house during the winter and they were in shorts and tank tops because they had their heat on so high. I had to let them know that not only will you get sick from how hot and dry a heater makes it, but they were going to spend a fortune on their utility bills.
If you can afford it, don’t be miserable cold or hot. Adjust your clothes (that’s free) to fit the temperature outside. In the winter, it’s OK to wear a sweatshirt inside the house with slippers and sit with a blanket. In the summer, use fans and wear summer clothes. (See below how to set your fan.). Adjust your thermostat 10-15 degrees when you are asleep or away from home.
On the hottest days, we had a rule in our house that we had to at least sleep well to function during the day so at night is when we would run the air conditioning to make us comfortable. During the day, if temperatures reached a certain level (our’s was 80 degrees inside) then it was time to go somewhere with air conditioning or turn it on because grumpy, hot kids is torture for everyone.
If you have a finished basement, use it because it can remain very cool, sometimes 10-15 degrees cooler than the main levels, in the summer. We “summer in the basement” which means we move to the basement to sleep at night and during the heat of the day. We think of it as our summer house. We have not run our air conditioning for six years!
Another tip is to use “free air conditioning” during the heat of the day at the mall window shopping to get a cool break. Even paying for an afternoon movie can be cheaper than paying an air conditioning bill.
Make sure your windows and doors are not leaking. Caulk windows. Install weatherstripping around drafty doors or buy door stops that are the length of the door that can stop air going in and out. Repair leaky heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts.
Adjust ceiling fans to turn in the correct direction. During summer, the blades should rotate counterclockwise, so you feel a breeze under the fan. During winter, the blades should rotate clockwise, and you won’t feel a breeze under the fan but still circulating the warm air. Almost all ceiling fans have a small switch that will change the blade direction. While you are up there, dust!
Cook and bake indoors in the winter, that oven does heat up the house, and outdoors in the summer. Keep that oven off during the summer as much as possible, use crockpots, the stove and grill.
We are love seeing a beautiful day but if you are trying to keep it cool inside, closing the blinds or curtains during the heat of the day will help keep it cooler. In the cooler months, those blinds or curtains will also keep the cool air out.
These tips can save you gallons of water:
Just a simple reminder that Americans wash their clothes, dishes and bodies in drinking water. Shorten showers by setting a timer. A more energy-efficient way of prepping your dishes for the dishwasher is using a spatula and scrapping them. Also, hand-washing can be done with a sink of water instead of having the water running. While brushing teeth, keep the water off and turn it on only when you need to rinse.
If you live anywhere with snow or humidity and have a sump pump, buy a rain barrel from a local hardware or big box store (starting at around $80) and position it to capture the runoff or collect rainwater. Collected rainwater may be used to irrigate outdoor lawns, plants, or gardens.
Leaky faucets and running toilets waste more water than a gallon an hour, according to the Department of Public Works.
For as low as about $20 you can switch your shower head to save up to about 50% of water and get a high-pressure flow.
An initial investment of rocks or mulch and native, drought-tolerant plants will make your life and bank account better. Xeriscaping can reduce your water consumption by 60% compared to traditional landscaping.
My husband walks around the house turning off lights counting as he goes “three lights on and nobody in the room!” Now we can do that and more to lower our electric bill:
Look for more energy-efficient LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label. These lightbulbs can save the average home about $1,000 over a 10-year period, plus they last about 25,000 hours!
This will also make your clothes last longer. Towels get a little crusty-feeling on a drying rack so use the dryer on them. If you have an old school clothesline outside, there is nothing like the fresh smell of air-dried clothes!
Some electronic gadgets never truly power off; instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can add up over devices and time. Plug these electronics into a smart power strip, which cuts off the current when the devices aren’t in use.
Tags: power, thermostat, utility bills, water