With today’s rising energy costs, many people look for things they can do to lower their individual utility bills. From turning off lights to throwing on an extra layer, here are some common sense tips to lower your utility bill.
Set Your Thermostat
Heating and cooling are the biggest contributors to our energy costs, but with changing weather and personal preferences, our homes internal temperature can be subject to big spikes. Use a programmable thermostat to maintain your home’s internal temperature - check with your local utility company to get recommended temperatures to set based on your area. Look for thermostats that will let you program based on time-of-day. That way, you can set it based on your schedule, getting a bit closer to the outside weather when you’re out and about, and a bit more comfortable when you’re home. Don’t make the difference too drastic, though - keeping temperatures consistent means your heating and cooling systems don’t have to work as hard, saving you money!
Seal Up Your Home
Once or twice a year, make sure to check that your home is well sealed. Check weather stripping around doors and windows, and replace if necessary. Check your home for other sources of drafts, and do what you can to prevent them. The goal is to keep warm air out in the summer, and cold air out in the winter, so your heating and cooling systems can catch a break. Put up thick curtains to keep the hot sun out in the summer, and insulate the cold in the winter. Also ensure you have adequate insulation, which can help maintain temperature consistency.
Wear Seasonally Appropriate Clothing
Before you try to make the external temperature match what makes you comfortable, check to make sure a simple wardrobe change wouldn’t do the trick. As my mom always said, if you’re cold, put on a sweater or sweatshirt. It’s also a good idea to invest in cozy blankets and slippers - layers are your friend in the winter! There’s really only so much you can do to stay cool in the summer, but don’t be afraid to rock those skimpier bits of your wardrobe in the comfort of your own home. Also, stay hydrated! Water helps regulate your inner temperature and keep you from overheating.
Check on Your Air Filters and Water Heaters
Dirty air filters make your cooling and heating systems work harder to move air, so make sure you change them regularly. The basic recommendation is to change your filters at least every 3 months, but you may want to do so more often if you have pets. Ensure that your water heater is set to 120℉ or lower - you’re unlikely to notice much difference at such high temperatures, and lowering the setting by just a few degrees can show savings on your utility bill. Also ensure that your water heater is well insulated from outside temperatures, so it doesn’t have to work so hard to maintain its temperature.
Check Your Appliance Habits
Appliances make our lives so convenient, but they can also boost your energy bill, so it’s a bit of a trade-off. If you’re worried about high energy costs, consider making some changes. Turn off the heat dry setting on your dishwasher, and towel or air dry them instead. Wash your clothes in cold water, or even room temperature if that’s an option, unless the garments absolutely require hot water. Need hot water to wash clothes? Try to throw the load in while the dishwasher is also running, which eases up a bit on your water heater. In the summer, grill outside when you can, so your oven isn’t adding extra heat for your cooling systems to combat. Does your utility provider offer time-of-use rates? Find out, and take advantage of them when you can!
Turn Out the Lights
Make sure you hit the switch on your lights when you leave the room - little things like this add up! If you’re not great at remembering to do this, invest in some motion detectors that will turn them off for you. Smart home systems can also be helpful, so you can check in when you’re on the go, or turn off lights without having to leave the comfort of your cozy warm bed. Also ensure you’re using efficient bulbs. Check with your utility company - you may be able to find free, energy efficient replacements.