6 Shortcuts to a Smaller Utility Bill
Looking to cut your energy costs?
It can take years for a new, more energy-efficient refrigerator or other major appliance to pay for itself in savings on a utility bill. If that’s the path you want to take, this Energy Star calculator can estimate the amount of money saved by replacing an old fridge with a new one. But if you want to see quicker results, here’s how you can save on cash and your energy usage:
Less Hot Water
By lowering the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you use less energy to heat your water. You can also use less hot water by washing clothes in cold water, and only using the dishwasher when it’s completely full and during off-peak times if your utility company offers lower rates.
Set the Thermostat
The furnace and air conditioners consume the most energy in a home. Using them less can save you a lot of money on your utility bill. Start by lowering the thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer.
Either buy a programmable thermostat or change the temperature yourself before you leave your house for work in the morning. Lower it by 10 to 15 degrees in the winter while you’re out of the house, and keep your home just a few degrees warmer during the winter when you’re home.
Ceiling fans can force cool air down in warm weather by running counterclockwise, and can distribute warm air during colder months by running clockwise and moving air up and around a room.
Fans obviously require energy to run, but they’ll lead to savings by keeping the cool or warm air that you want in your house instead of letting it escape out the roof.
You can install timed light switches in rooms that are used only from time to time, such as bathrooms and the laundry room. You won’t have to worry about remembering to turn the lights off because they will shut off automatically after a set period of time.
While the savings take longer to add up and the upfront cost can be prohibitive, replacing old appliances will eventually save you energy and money. Refrigerators that are 15 years or older use twice as much energy as a new Energy Star refrigerator.