In a lot of ways, your home is like a living-breathing machine. It takes energy and maintenance to keep it functioning at peak efficiency.
But that can quickly spiral out of control and cost you a bundle if you’re not careful. Running the air conditioning too much, using up too much electricity, and using too much gas are all common offenses that will add up quickly.
Here are 17 tips for keeping your energy usage regulated and your bills at a minimum.
1. Get a programmable thermostat.
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then you’re missing out on one of the simplest ways to keep your heating and cooling expenses at bay. These simple devices can be used to set the time and day when your temperature goes up and down.
How does that save you money? Typically, most people will set the thermostat not to run while they are at work all day. 30 minutes or so before they normally get home, the thermostat kicks on and puts the temperature back to where you usually keep it.
In addition, a lot of people like to lower the temperature at night while they sleep. This is another 8 hour stretch where you generally don’t need the house to be too warm or cool.
A simple digital thermostat can be purchased for less than $50 from Home Depot or a similar hardware store. I installed one in my house in less than 15 minutes.
2. Run your air conditioning less.
In the summer time, it can be very tempting to want to run your air conditioning all the time. But don’t. It will hike your energy bill through the roof!
Instead, open the windows and use fans to try to circulate the natural air. In addition, dress lighter.
3. Lock those windows.
Just because your windows are shut doesn’t mean they are not leaking heat. We used to have this problem at our old house. To really make them “air-tight” and keep from leaking the air in our house, you need to make sure they are in the locked position.
If you can still feel heat loss near them, consider buying some weather stripping to add to the bottom of the window that will create a seal. A roll of weather stripping using costs less than $10 and can be cut & stuck easily.
4. Make sure your windows are energy-efficient.
Sometimes its the window itself that is leaking heat. This is true of older homes or ones that might have been constructed cheaply. Check your window brand and make sure its up to date with the latest energy rating. If its not, consider what the cost would be to replace it. You might also qualify for a tax break for making your home more efficient.
5. Use your stove in the summer and oven in the winter.
This simple cooking tip works naturally with temperatures of the season. Using your oven in the summer will make an already hot house even warmer. Using your stove in the winter will not add as much heat to the environment as the stove. Take advantage of each.
6. Turn off the lights and electronics when you’re not using them.
My kids are guilty of this one. I can’t tell you how often I find the lights or TV on in a room with no one in it.
7. Use LED or CFL lighting.
As your light-bulbs go out, switch them over to LED or Compact florescent lamps (CFLs) instead of regular incandescent light-bulbs. Though they may cost a little more at first, they will use less energy and last you longer.
8. Turn off the other things you’re not using.
For example: Even though your printer may be in standby mode, it could still be using energy. Look around your house and see what else may be in standby mode.
9. Even better, unplug things you’re not using.
Unplugging things is an absolute great way to ensure they are not using any energy at all.
10. Or make life easy: Get an energy-smart surge protector.
These are “smart” power strips that shut off automatically when you stop using them.
11. Ask your service provider about a home energy audit.
They may have suggestions to save you money that you may not have ever considered.
12. Be sure to change your furnace filters regularly.
This will not only keep your furnace running more smoothly (i.e. costing you less money), but it will also be cleaner for the air you breathe.
13. Get re-usable furnace filters.
Believe it or not, throw-away furnace filters are not the only ones you have to use. Many of them will also accept reusable ones that simply require washing every month or so.
14. Close off unused spaces.
No one needs heat in a place like the closet or basement. Keep your doors closed at all times to reduce the square footage being heated.
If you have rooms in your house that no one uses, consider closing them off as well.
15. Make sure your roof and walls are properly insulated.
Though it will require some investment, getting your roof and walls up to the latest insulation code will prevent a lot less temperature loss, and could payoff before you know it.
16. Cut back at non-peak.
If you’re good with not using so much energy, consider signing up for a rebate with your energy provider in return for cutting power during non-peak hours.
17. Switch to rechargeable batteries.
Though not necessarily tied directly to your energy bill, having to buy batteries will definitely cut deep into your budget before you know it. My kids go through them like toilet paper! If you use a lot of batteries, consider opting for rechargeable ones.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr