Make a Plan to Save 30% or More on Your Energy Bills
- October 10, 2018
- By: Greenpath Financial Wellness
October is Financial Planning Month – and there’s nothing better than making a plan to save money. If your utility bills in winter put a crunch on your budget, these tips to reduce energy usage can help.
1. Turn down the thermostat
You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day from its normal setting. Those eight hours could be while you are away at work or school, when sunlight is warming your house, or when you’re asleep under a pile of cozy blankets. For every two degrees, you can save an average of three percent on your energy bill.
You can install a programmable thermostat to automatically turn your heat down at night or when you are away. This prevents you from forgetting and helps you save energy without even thinking about it!
2. Seal up your house to keep cold air out, and warm air in
Caulking and weatherstripping help seal your house up, keeping the warm air in. These are affordable DIY ways to improve energy efficiency and can save you about 7.5 percent on your energy bill! About $240 can cover weather stripping all your windows and doors. Check out Energy.gov and YouTube for how-to videos and tips.
Additionally, minimize the air that escapes by closing the damper on your fireplace when it’s not in use, and use bath and kitchen fans sparingly. This can save another 10 percent on your energy bill.
3. Change your furnace filters regularly
Your furnace or heating system is responsible for about half of your energy bill. Changing the filters every three months means your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard, saving you energy and money in the long run. A clean filter costs about $20 and can lower energy use by as much as 15 percent according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means another 7.5 percent savings on your monthly bills.
4. Get a pro to test your energy efficiency
Many utility companies offer free energy audits, which can help you figure out how much energy your home uses and take steps to increase efficiency. Start by contacting your utility company or find an auditor near you. According to Energy.gov, an energy audit can show you ways to save 5 to 30 percent on your utility bills.
5. Get free heat from the sun
Warm sunshine can heat your home, for free! The more solar heat, the less your furnace has to run. Open curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day to warm your interior rooms and surfaces. Then close your curtains at night to help keep the heat from escaping. This could help save another one or two percent on your energy bill in colder months.
6. Use less hot water
Heating water can make up around 12% of a family’s utility bill, according to the Department of Energy. The government website has many helpful suggestions for reducing your hot water use, including lowering the temperature on the water heater, taking shorter showers, and buying low-flow fixtures (which typically cost less than $20).
You can also cut down on water heating by washing many of your clothes in cold water. GE Appliances estimates that 75-90% of a washer’s energy is used to warm the water, so switching to cold can help reduce your energy bill — and still be effective at removing stains and keeping clothes clean!
7. Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs
Lightbulbs that have earned an ENERGY STAR are a more energy- and cost-efficient way to light your home. Households typically spend 5% of their energy budget on lighting, but replacing frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR models (including some halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lights, and LEDs) can save you $45 a year!
8. Maintain your appliances
Maintaining large appliances like the refrigerator, air conditioning unit, and washer and dryer keep them running efficiently. Low-functioning appliances often have to work harder, which can lead to higher energy bills.
In some cases, it may be worthwhile to upgrade to new energy-efficient appliances that will lower your energy bills. You can use energy.gov’s appliance energy calculator to estimate the annual cost of operating various appliances.
Be Proactive and Save On Your Energy Bill
These tips are useful ways to reduce your energy bill, but if you are having trouble keeping up with higher winter utility bills, ask your utility company about a payment plan. Many companies offer a year-round plan that spreads costs out over 12 months.