Oct 02

Five Ways to Lower Your Energy Bills

Keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter is a vital element of being comfortable in your home. However, the energy bills that result are often anything but comfortable. You don’t have to settle for shivering during the winter and sweating out the summer months to keep your energy bills down to a reasonable level. By following a few simple strategies, you can reduce your energy bills and still keep your home comfortable.

Prevent Drafts and Leaks

A bit of caulk and weather stripping, along with added insulation in strategic locations can significantly reduce your energy costs. Seal drafts around windows and doors with caulk and weather stripping. Add insulation in your attic and basement or crawl space, as well as insulating your water heater. Your efforts can result in savings of up to 20 percent annually, according to Smart Money magazine.

Turn It Off

Running an air conditioner during the summer can result in huge electric bills. However, you can set your air conditioner to a higher temperature or even turn it off altogether and still keep rooms cool by closing blinds or shades on south and west facing windows during the heat of the day. Another strategy is to run ceiling fan along with your air conditioner to evenly distribute cool air throughout the room. Window fans also make the room feel a few degrees cooler on days when the temps are not so hot.

During the winter, you can use a similar principle to save on heating bills. Use a fireplace to provide heat in addition to or instead of a conventional heating system. If you don’t have a fireplace, consider installing a Linear Proportional Convector baseboard heating system to efficiently heat your room through unobtrusive baseboard mounted units.

Your computer, microwave, cell phone charger and your TV may still be using power even when they’re supposedly turned off. That’s because many appliances have a standby power feature that accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential electricity use, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory claims. Prevent this power drain by plugging appliances into a power strip – and turning the power strip off when appliances are not being used.

Keep It Clean

Ensuring that filters on your heating and cooling system or window unit air conditions are clean allows them to operate more efficiently. Remove grass and other debris that accumulate in the coils of your home’s central heating and cooling unit. As a result, your heating and cooling units will expend less energy while still keeping home comfortable. Your electric bills will be lower; your home’s indoor air quality will also be improved.

Change Electricity Providers

If you live in a state where electricity providers have been deregulated, you can shop around for the best deal and save up to 15 percent, Smart Money reports. Look for suppliers that use a mix of energy sources, including renewable electricity, to reduce your carbon footprint now and be positioned for greater energy savings down the road.  You may also be able to negotiate an energy plan with pricing based on peak usage – and concentrate your energy use during periods where prices are set lower.

Make the Switch

Changing your light fixtures from incandescent to compact florescent bulbs represents a significant up front investment. However, each compact fluorescent bulb provides up to $35 in energy bill savings over its useful life, Smart Money claims. In addition, compact florescent bulbs generate less heat than incandescent bulbs.

Making the switch also applies to your laundry. Wash and rinse all but your dirtiest laundry in cold water, which can result in significant savings on your energy bill. Many detergents are formulated to work as well in cold water as they do in hot water, so you won’t be sacrificing clean clothes.

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Guest post contributed by Sharon Padilla. Sharon is a freelance writer with extensive experience in home improvements.

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