The fourth part in our series on saving money, today I’ll focus on simple ways you can lower your home energy costs. Whether you use electricity or natural gas, power is necessary for all your day-to-day activities, including food preparation, lighting, heat and air-conditioning. The average American spends $2,200 per year on energy bills, meaning energy can take up a large chunk of your budget. Thankfully, there are countless free or low cost ways to use less energy and see significant savings while still maintaining your quality of life. For the ecology-minded, these energy saving tips are also helpful to the environment.
Energy Efficient Food Preparation
- Use your microwave for more than heating water or making popcorn. Not only will you use less energy than an electric or gas range, with less heat generated you’ll save on air-conditioning, too.
- A gas oven is generally cheaper to use than an electric oven, a crock-pot is the cheapest.
- Bake with glass or ceramic dishes that retain heat better than metal and lower the temperature 25º to boot. Keep the oven door closed; oven temps drop 25-30º every time you take a peak.
- Grilling your food outdoors will cut the cost of preparation and keep your home cool in the summer, saving air-conditioning costs.
- Keep your freezer and refrigerator full; less available space keeps the interior colder longer requiring less energy in the long run. Never put hot food into the fridge or freezer until it cools down to room temperature or you’ll use waste energy cooling it down.
Energy Efficient Cleaning
- Hand-wash dishes a couple times a week to cut electricity consumption by at least 20% over the cost of using your dishwasher. Only run your dishwasher (and washing machine), when you have full loads.
- Use cold water instead of hot in your washing machine to not only save energy but help preserve the fabric and the color of your clothes.
- Take advantage of the sunny days to dry your laundry on a clothes line. Not only will you save electricity (up to 50 cents per load), but you’ll also burn calories from the light labor.
Energy Efficient Environment
- Switch from iridescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones. Turn off lights, when not in use. Also, unplug electronic devices and chargers from the outlet when they aren’t running; even when turned off, some of these devices still use electricity if left plugged in.
- Perform annual maintenance on heating and cooling systems, replacing filters regularly
- Ceiling fans will help in winter and summer by circulating the air and helping to pull the warmer air to the ceiling in summer and pushing it toward the floor in winter.
- Keep your thermostats set to 76-78º in summer and 65-68º in winter.
- Utilize blinds and shades to keep the blazing sun from heating summer spaces.
Calculate your energy costs and find ways to save (provided by Home Energy Saver™)
While this is not an exhaustive list, it serves to point out some of the more obvious ways to lower your energy bills. For a more extensive list of things to do to cut expenses, contact your gas or electric utility company. Many offer publications and other resources to help consumers use less energy.
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