We all want to save money on our electricity, water, heating and cooling bills. But sometimes the methods for doing so can get expensive or require expert help. Here’s 10 ways to reduce energy consumption and save money on utilities that won’t break the bank.
1. Avoid using appliances during the daytime
During the day, when everyone is using their appliances the most, is when utility companies tend to charge more money. By simply running your dishwasher, washing machine and other energy intensive appliances during off-peak hours, you’ll save money and energy usage at the same time.
2. Block drafts and excess heat with blackout curtains
I live on the second floor of my apartment complex, so the afternoon sun shines directly into my doors and windows during the hottest part of the day. It’s really difficult to keep the temperature regulated until I bought some floor-to-ceiling blackout curtains. They reduce energy loss by up to 25% and block out any air leaks or drafts from doors and windows. The heating and cooling savings can add up quite quickly which help offset the cost of the curtains.
3. Replace air conditioning/heating filters
For optimal use, the average air or heating filter should be changed every 30 days. Some high efficiency or better quality filters can be use anywhere from 3 – 6 months. The longer you keep a filter in use, the more dirt it starts to collect, which causes your heating or cooling system to work harder. The harder your system works, the more electricity and energy it uses. Air filters are designed with a certain “air flow direction” so read the directions for correct installation to optimize your budget savings and reduce your energy consumption.
4. Do an electricity cost experiment
To run an electricity cost experiment, purchase something like the Belkin Energy Cost Monitor. It shows how much different appliances and devices cost energy and money within your home. The tracking features monitor the usage over time and the dollar cost impact it has on your bill. You can determine how much energy a laptop, microwave or your TV/DVD system uses. After running the test, you can adjust your device settings and even turn off the devices that aren’t being used on a regular basis. This will help you save money on utility bills.
5. Use energy saving power strips
Now that you’ve done an energy cost test, consider buying a few energy saving power strips for your appliances. One of the items I absolutely love is the Belkin Conserve Smart AV outlet, which gives an instant $76 annual savings. It works by plugging in the main master outlet to your TV, then plug in the other gadgets like DVD players, gaming consoles and surround sound systems. The extra outlets are for devices that will be left on all the time, like digital recorders and DVR’s. When you cut power to your TV, it will automatically turn off the power to the other electronics connected the master outlet.
6. Choose inexpensive energy saving solutions
Now that you’ve done an electricity cost experiment to measure the output of energy, and bought a couple energy saving power strips, consider installing some of these energy saving solutions.
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- Low-flow showerheads. A regular showerhead puts out 4-5 gallons of water per minute, but a low-flow showerhead only puts out 1.5 gallons per minute. This helps conserve water and save money on your water bill.
- Programmable thermostat. It’s estimated that you can save 10% off your utility bill by installing a programmable thermostat. It regulates the temperature within your home more accurately than a traditional one, thereby wasting less energy and money.
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs. According to Energy Star, CFL bulbs use 75% less energy than normal bulbs, and they last 10 times as long. Your savings will vary but most experts say that making the switch will save an average person $3-$7 per month on their electric bill.
7. Try a water displacement device in the toilet
Toilets tend to use the most amount of water in our homes, especially if you have an older toilet model like I do. With one simple trick you can convert any toilet into a low flush toilet. Fill a half gallon container (like a milk or juice carton) with a mixture of water, pebbles and sand. Carefully place the container, now a water displacement device, into the tank of the toilet. Replace the lid, and flush like normal. For any average family who flushes 5 times a day, you will save 350 gallons of water every month!
8. Keep your refrigerator stocked
The fuller your fridge is, the better the temperature will stay regulated each time you open and close the door. The items inside retain the cold (much like pizza stones in ovens) and help radiate the already-refrigerated food, which brings the normal temperature of the fridge back quickly after the door is closed, thereby helping to lower your energy consumption and minimize your utility bills.
9. Utilize ceiling fans (summer) or space heaters (winter)
Ceiling fans and space heaters can cut back excessive use of your home’s air conditioning and heating unit while using 5% less energy. In fact, they use about the same energy as a 100-watt light bulb. During the winter you can flip the reverse switch on the ceiling fan to circulate the warm air and cut back on your furnace usage.
10. Eliminate wasted energy
You can easily eliminate wasted energy by turning off appliances, lights and equipment that’s not in use. Unplug any electronics that aren’t being using, like cell phone chargers and computers. During the day close the doors to rooms that you aren’t utilizing, so you can regulate the temperature to a confined area easier and save money on both heating and cooling costs.
Saving money on energy output, water usage and heating/cooling costs, doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. By making some of these small but effective changes, you can drastically reduce your energy consumption and save money on your utility bills each month. (For more tips on reducing energy and saving money, see our article on The Daily Commute: 7 Ways to Maximize Time and Save Money.)
This article is part of our Budgeting Tips Resource Center. If you’re looking for additional information about budgeting tips, be sure to pay a visit!
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