When people think about being energy efficient and eco-friendly, they often become preoccupied with the idea that they must buy new gadgets and tech to start seeing savings. However, this simply couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of things you can begin doing right away that will lead to significant savings and lowered utility bills.
If you’re tired of dreading the sight of the energy bill in your mailbox every month, this guide is meant for you. High utility bills don’t have to be a permanent staple of your monthly finances. There are plenty of handy tips for not only saving cash on your monthly energy bill, but also showing respect for the environment while doing so.
Research Energy Providers in Your Area
For starters, attacking any problem at the root is the first step to moving past hardship. In some cases, certain utility providers will service the same areas, allowing customers to make a decision between companies. Some utility companies even provide plans that offer renewable energy as the primary source of power. Depending on your locale, you might have quite a few options at your disposal.
If you’re stuck in an agreement with a utility provider that seems to tap a bit too deeply into your wallet, a change of service might be in order. It pays to spend some time comparing companies, reviews, plans, and rates during your downtime. Some companies even make an effort to regularly inform their customers on how to lower their utility bills and be more environmentally friendly while doing so.
These are some hard and fast tips for selecting the best utility company in your area:
- Opt For Rebates – Some providers will provide rebates to customers who make eco-friendly updates to their homes. Check each provider to see how they reward their customers for going green.
- Choose a Provider Who Will Help You Understand Where Your Energy is Going – In some cases, utility companies will provide usage breakdowns that can show you exactly how much energy is being used on a day-to-day basis, and in some cases, you can even see what’s consuming the most power in your residence.
- Look For Renewable Energy – It’s no secret that people are showing an increasing desire for utility companies that offer renewable energy. If you find a company that offers renewable power as its energy source, you’re on the right path. Particularly, you can research how they draw this energy, as well as the types of investments they have for the future of this energy type.
Saving on AC and Heating
When it comes to a hefty utility bill, air conditioning and heating are generally the biggest culprits behind significant energy consumption. When you’re at home and feel a bit too warm or cold for your taste, all it generally takes to remedy this is pressing a button on your thermostat. However, this seemingly harmless act can lead to increased energy usage and a much higher bill than usual. The trick is to think outside of the box and heat/cool your home without constantly adjusting the thermostat.
- Grab a Programmable Thermostat – It seems counterproductive to spend money while simultaneously trying to save it, but a programmable thermostat will eventually pay for itself in the long run.
- Choose Energy Efficient Settings – A good thermostat setting for summer time is roughly 78 degrees, and you can even dial it up or turn it off completely when you’re out and about. 68 degrees is ideal for the colder months, and if you can do so, completely shut your heating off while no one is at home. Keep in mind that an energy efficient heating system might be programmed to handle all of this for you.
- Pay Mind to Your Air Filters – The filters in your HVAC system probably don’t cross your mind much, but the key to savings could lie in simply cleaning them out once every 60 days.
- Give Your Ventilation Some TLC – It’s a good rule of thumb to make sure your vents are clear and clean. Additionally, look for any obvious obstructions for airflow and clear them accordingly.
- Cut Off Ventilation For Dormant Rooms – When your HVAC system has to heat or cool a larger area, it will work harder and consume more energy. You can lighten its load by closing up ventilation to rooms that aren’t in use. During the colder months, some people opt to completely close off certain sections of their homes to save money.
- Make Use of Fans – When we feel warm or hot, our natural instinct is to find a way to cool the area down. Naturally, the thermostat is the first thing that comes to mind in this scenario. However, you’d be surprised by how much a fan can provide similar or the same amount of desired cooling. Make sure the ceiling fan in the room is on, and plug in another one for added comfort.
- Check the Ceiling Fan’s Spin Direction – If the fan is turning clockwise, it will actually draw air upwards rather than downwards, making the room feel warmer. Instead, you should ensure the fan is turning counter clockwise so that air is being directed downward.
- Keep Up With HVAC Maintenance – Over time, HVAC systems will simply stop working as well as they once did, and this is why air conditioning service maintenance is crucial. Maintenance from an air conditioning service company ensures your HVAC system continues to provide energy efficiency and ample cooling/heating. Likewise, you’ll also see ongoing savings on your energy bills! Don’t forget to ask for extra tips on how you can transform your current setup into a more energy efficient heating system.
How You Can Save Money with Kitchen Appliances
The kitchen is arguably the room in the house that sees the highest amount of energy consumption. There are lots of appliances in the kitchen, and each of them requires quite a bit of power to function correctly. You can create big savings just by maintaining and adjusting how you use certain kitchen appliances.
- Keep Track of Temperatures in Your Refrigerator and Freezer – If your refrigerator and freezer are working hard to maintain excessively cold temperature settings, this can lead to high utility bills. For your refrigerator, it’s okay to shoot for a setting between 36-38 degrees. For the freezer, the general consensus is that 0 degrees is a good temperature.
- Keep the Refrigerator and Freezer Stocked – Ideally the more food you can store in both your refrigerator and freezer, the less they will have to work to keep the temperatures down.
- Get Rid of Frost – The staff at Reviewed.com suggests regularly clearing out any frost that develops in your freezer or refrigerator in order to promote efficiency and savings. An excessive amount of frost complicates the flow of air, and promotes moisture buildup which can make it harder for the appliance(s) to keep everything cool.
- Clean the Refrigerator Vents – You’ve probably noticed that your refrigerator has a vent at the bottom, but it’s likely you never gave it much more thought. Like any other vent, your refrigerator’s vent can become dirty and/or clogged. Be sure to regularly clean it to maximize your refrigerator’s efficiency.
- Avoid Running Half Loads of Dishes in Your Dishwasher – When you really need a certain pan or cooking dish but can’t be bothered with hand-washing, it can seem really tempting to run them through the dishwasher by themselves. However, you might be surprised to find this is one of the biggest culprits for energy consumption (along with running half loads of laundry through the washer and dryer). Save your dishwasher cycles for full loads, and hand-wash when you need things quickly.
- Don’t Heat Dry Your Dishes – Some dishwashers are designed to also dry glasses and plates after being washed, but the truth is that this step is not necessary in the slightest. In fact, this step in the dishwasher cycle only serves to consume more energy than necessary.
- Use a Toaster Oven in Place of Your Traditional Oven if You Can – Sometimes, a recipe might be small enough to fit inside of your toaster oven, even if it’s meant to be baked in a bigger oven. However, toaster ovens consume much less energy and they are capable of producing the same taste as its larger counterpart.
How You Can Save Money with Laundry Room Appliances
The laundry room is yet another place in the home where heavy amounts of energy are used. Particularly, the dryer is probably the biggest offender of energy usage due to the way it is designed. Luckily, it’s possible to continue using your washer and dryer, but also reap savings on your energy bill in the process.
- Always Wash Full Loads – Quite simply, Amy Livingston from MoneyCrashers.com says if you want to reduce energy consumption from your washer and dryer, you’ve got to stop washing and drying only a few items at a time.
- Skip the Dryer Completely – Unless your load is time sensitive, there’s no good reason you shouldn’t be line drying your laundry.
- Opt For Cold Water – You’d be surprised how expensive using hot water for your laundry can be. In some cases, using cold water for your cycle can save you a big chunk of change per load.
- Go For Cost-Conscious Detergent That’s Eco-Friendly and Designed For Efficiency – Believe it or not – even the type of detergent you purchase can be adding unnecessary inflation to your energy bill and even harming the environment. Get rid of the name brand detergent you purchase merely because “it smells good,” and opt for something that will not only have a great smell but also bring in savings.
- Use a Towel to Cut Down on Time Needed for Drying – According to an extensive guide from Home Hacks, throwing a dry towel in with a load of laundry can cut down on your dryer cycle by roughly 50%. If you used this technique every time you did laundry, think of how much could be saved by the end of the month.
When it comes to saving money or improving energy efficiency, not many people tend to think of the humidity control in their home. In fact, humidity level is one of the most crucial parts of changing the comfort level of your home without breaking the bank, and not to mention, it will vastly improve the quality of the air within your home in no time.
Furthermore, a humidifier is a great way to make a room feel considerably warmer in the colder months without needing to reach for the thermostat. Even the health benefits of protection from respiratory issues, dry skin, or chapped lips are enough to make anyone consider a humidifier for their homes.
These are just a few of the obvious reasons humidity control is important for your home:
- You’ll See Savings on Your Power Bill – When air consists of a proper humidity level, it can hold heat much more easily than dry air. This is very good news for your utility bill. With a higher level of humidity in your home, your heating system simply will not have to work as hard. As a rule of thumb, it’s ideal to keep your humidity level between 40-60%. To understand the benefit more easily, consider that roughly 68 degrees with a 40% level of humidity feels extremely similar to 74 degrees with a 20% humidity level. Even just a three degree change on your thermostat in conjunction with a humidifier can yield up to 5% in savings.
- There are Numerous Health Benefits – Adequate moisture is needed for proper respiratory and sinus health, and a humidifier can help with this during the colder months when conditions are drier. Additionally, dry hands and chapped lips will be no match for the added moisture.
- Certain Types of Furniture Will Last Much Longer – When wood is left in a dry state for a very long period of time, it begins to stiffen and crack. Even instruments, such as guitars, that are made out of wood will buckle from lack of moisture and suffer from a change in tune. Paintings and other artwork have also been known to sustain damage from exposure to too much dry air. A humidifier can easily prevent these blunders from happening.
At the end of the day, when you make a conscious effort to save money on your utility bills, you are also inadvertently helping the environment by lowering usage and consumption. After all, it’s never a bad thing when you find the opportunity to both save money and help the environment!