7 Hacks for Lower Utility Bills
None of us love to pay utility bills. Even if we wanted to automate the process, they change monthly, so we must at least deal with them every month. The one thing we can do to feel a little better is to lower the dollar amounts. Here are some hacks to reduce electric and gas bills that power our homes and our comfort systems.
Your heating and cooling system protects coils and components from dirt with filters. When you’re using the common one-inch fiberglass filters, you should be changing them frequently. It’s best to get on a schedule and change them whether they look very dirty or not. Dirt load in the filter restricts airflow and reduces the efficiency of your system. It can also cause damage if it becomes too dirt laden.
If you use higher efficiency filters than the fiberglass variety, they already impede airflow a little more, so even more care should be taken to change them frequently to avoid starving your system for air flow.
What Color is Your Roof?
You can celebrate the higher heat absorption of a dark roof in the winter, but it is more than offset by the higher cost of cooling the air in the summer. When it comes time to replace your roof covering, consider white or lighter colors for a more reflective surface to lower cooling bills.
Off Peak Power Usage
This chart from CallMePower.com shows an example of the major savings from running what you can during off peak hours. Getting up a bit early to run that washer and dryer could save you a lot of money over the course of a year.
Check with your utility company for their off peak rates and suggestions as to how to maximize your savings.
Use Better Laundry Practices
Today’s detergents are formulated to work properly in cold water, so you can save significant annual dollars by washing clothes in cold water. Another laundry practice that will save you money is not overloading the dryer. It takes longer and more heat to dry a large load than when you leave more room for air circulation.
Clean the dryer filter after every load, as the air passes through it when the machine is running. A significant blockage results in longer run times before clothes are dry and higher operating costs.
Do not put warm-to-hot items in the refrigerator. Let them cool first, as hot items create a load on the unit that it isn’t designed for. Also, leave room in the fridge for air circulation. Don’t pack it so full that items are jammed together, as it must run lots longer to bring them to temperature.
Setting temperatures too low makes little or no difference in food quality or storage length, but it does cause the unit to run longer than necessary. Settings of 37 degrees for the refrigerator and 0 degrees for the freezer are low enough and more energy efficient.
Insulation and Weatherstripping
It’s always a good time to do an energy usage assessment of your home. This would include identifying areas where you have excessive heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Adding insulation, changing windows or adding storm windows, can make a huge difference.
However, weatherstripping your windows and doors can be a major energy saving step. Even the smallest of cracks around windows or doors allows the escape of warm air in the winter and infiltration of hot air in the summer.
On Demand Hot Water
We all want hot water when we turn on that shower or we want to wash dishes. However, to have it ready, most homes are storing it in a tank where it’s kept at usage temperature 24/7/365. The time when it’s not being called for is extensive, so reducing that downtime to nothing can save you a ton of money over time.
Check into an on demand hot water heater that only heats water as it’s needed. A flow control determines the call for hot water and the unit heats it to temperature as the water passes through. You get hot water when you want it, but you don’t pay to keep it hot when you don’t.
These 7 simple hacks can add up to significant savings over the year, maybe enough to take a holiday or just beef up the savings account.