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Keeping the lights on in your home isn’t cheap – and that’s without taking into account everything else that makes up your energy bills such as heating and air conditioning, the hot water heater, furnaces and everything else. In fact, according to the Energy Department, the average U.S. family spends a massive $2,200 per year on utilities alone.
But the good news is that there are several things that you can do to easily drive down the cost of your utility bills, whether you’re prepared to make small or large changes around your home. Tweaking your energy usage can lower your bills by as much as 25% per year, and making even bigger changes could lead to larger savings.
We’ve put together some of the best ways to make significant savings on your energy bills.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling are some of the biggest culprits behind massive utility bills, making them some of the best places to look when it comes to finding opportunities to cut costs. Some of the best things to do include:
Check the Seals
Check seals on doors, windows and appliances – make sure that your fridge and freezer are well-sealed in order to ensure that the cold air is kept where it belongs. And, the same should go for your windows and doors – a bad seal will keep the energy out, and as a result your home will struggle to retain warm or cold air, which in turn will put a drain on your wallet.
Repair the Ductwork
Repair leaky ductwork – look for and repair leaky heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts in order to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.
Adjust your thermostat – when you’re asleep in bed or away from home, setting your thermostat back by 10-15 degrees for eight hours can make a massive difference to your heating bills, reducing them by around 10%. To make the work easier, it’s worth investing in a programmable thermostat that you can program to do the work for you.
Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature – keeping food fresh is a necessity, so your fridge and freezer are amongst the few appliances that need to be plugged in and using energy twenty-four hours a day. However, the good news is that you can adjust the temperatures slightly, meaning that your food will stay fresh but your appliances won’t need to work as hard.
Check your roof – in addition, check your home’s roofing area regularly and repair any issues that could cause hot or cool air to escape the home. Look out for light leaks and loose tiles which could lead to drafts.
Power and Lighting
Keeping the lights on and powering electronics in your home accounts for around 12% of a home’s energy usage, or more if you have a lot of appliances or gadgets that need to be plugged in throughout the day. There are plenty of things that you can do to reduce the amount of money you are spending here, including:
Solar panels – installing solar panels is a large investment in your home but one that will certainly pay off later on down the line. They will allow your home to generate its own energy, which can then be used for lighting and powering electronics in the home. If you generate too much energy, you may even be able to sell it back to the power companies for other homes and businesses in the area, allowing you to make money rather than spend it. In order to ensure that you are getting the most from your solar panels, be sure to keep up with solar repair and maintenance.
Switch your light bulbs – simply swapping out the light bulbs in your home for compact fluorescent or LED bulbs bearing the Energy Star symbol can save you up to $75 on energy bills per year. And to further reduce costs, install dimmer switches which allow you to set the brightness in a room to suit your needs and spend less on unnecessary energy.
Utilize smart power strips – some electronic devices never fully switch off; they remain in standby mode, which uses a small trickle of power which can easily add up over time, particularly if you have several such devices in your home. These tend to be electronics with a remote control such as TVs, as the remote sensor will need some power whilst waiting for your input. A smart power strip eliminates the use of this standby energy by cutting off the current when the devices are not in use.
Conduct an energy audit – check your home thoroughly to see if there are areas you could have missed where you may be wasting energy. Some energy suppliers will arrange for a professional to visit and conduct an audit for you free of charge.
Last but not least, hot water is the second-largest expense when it comes to powering most modern homes, according to the Energy Department. And, cutting down when it comes to hot water usage around your home can make a big difference to your yearly energy spend. Some small yet effective changes you can make to save money on hot water include:
Take shorter showers – just two or three minutes less in the shower each time will easily add up, particularly if everybody in the household does it. In fact, two minutes less in the shower can lower your water usage by a massive ten gallons.
Avoid washing clothes in hot water – warm or cold water does the job just fine, and avoiding doing laundry with hot water can cut your per-load energy usage in half.
Replace your showerhead – water pressure is important for most of us, but did you know that you can save energy while still enjoying the same standard of water pressure when you shower? Look for a showerhead with the WaterSense label, which will allow you to reduce your water usage by a massive 2,700 gallons each year.
Fix leaking faucets – that constant dripping from your bathroom or kitchen faucet isn’t just annoying, it’s also cutting into your bank balance. Leaky faucets can waste gallons of water over time, so you should fix them as quickly as possible.
Adjust the water heater temperature – typically, the default setting on a water heater is 140 degrees. But, lowering it to 120 degrees doesn’t make a massive difference to your hot water usage around the home and can reduce your overall energy costs by up to 10%. And if you’re planning to be leaving town for a few days, turning the temperature on your water heating to the lowest setting can help with conserving energy when you are gone.
Invest in energy efficient appliances – if you’re currently in the market for a new dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, or other appliance that uses hot water, it’s well worth spending a little more to invest in an energy efficient model. For example, a dishwasher that carries the Energy Star label is required to use no more than 5.8 gallons of water per cycle, compared to the over 10 gallons that’s often used by some older models.
When it comes to saving money on your energy bills, there’s plenty you can do to make a big impact on your savings.