Heating, cooling, water, and basic electricity needs can be costly, especially if there is more than one person in the household. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that six to twelve percent of an individual’s income is spend on utilities. You don’t need to deplete your monthly budget just to keep your home comfortable all year. These are some easy and inexpensive things you can do to reduce your utility usage and related expenses.
Step 1: Replace the light bulbs in the home with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Select those with a 2,600 to 3,000 Kelvin temperature to get the warm glow effect. Though these bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, they last about ten times longer and can reduce the electricity bill by as much as $60 over the lifetime of each bulb.
Step 2: Any appliance that is controlled by a remote, includes a clock, or has a charger uses electricity even when it is not in use. Forty percent of the total energy required by home electronics is consumed when these items are off. Unplug these devices when not in use. Or, purchase a Smart Power Strip or related product. This strip prevents electricity from being drawn when electronics and appliances are off.
Step 3: Having a professional service your furnace every two years will save about ten percent on heat bills.
Step 4: If your water heater was built prior to 2004, insulate it with a cover. The cover costs about $20 and can save you ten percent of your annual water-heating bill.
Step 5: Wash clothes in cold water- it will save you half the energy used by washing in hot water. Use the moisture sensor, not timed, dryer setting when drying clothes. This reduces energy use by approximately 15 percent.
Step 6: Purchase a programmable thermostat so the temperature is automatically regulated when you are away from home or sleeping. During heating season, every degree lower on the thermostat saves about five percent of the heating bill.