Plug Up The Money Drain, Part III - Utilities
This article is the third one in the series of plugging the money drain article series. There is one more article coming after this article. You should also read the first two parts of this article series. Because our utility bills come every month, there is great potential for savings. Comparing utility companies may offer some savings but your greatest savings will likely come from having efficient appliances, keeping them regularly maintained, and using conservation. Heating and cooling your home is often the greatest utility expense.
Older furnaces can be very inefficient and now might be a good time to calculate how quickly a new heating system can pay for itself. Energy efficient window replacements may also pay for themselves in a short time. In the mean time, check your house for areas where there is heat or cooling loss. Check your attic for adequate insulation, insulate heating ducts and plug any leaks in them, choose window coverings that will help you preserve heat or cooling, change the filters on your furnace every month, seal drafts around windows and doors, and especially, do not heat rooms when they are not in use. Wear weather appropriate clothes around your house.
Choose temperatures for your home for when you are awake, sleeping, and away at work. Air conditioners are very expensive to run, so try to reduce your use of them. Ceiling fans can be used to help with both heating and cooling. You can also take advantage of the changing outdoor temperatures in any day to boost your heating or cooling. Allow direct sun to enter the house when you want it warmer, and pull shades or use sheer curtains when you don’t wish it to. To help cool you can open your house up at night when it is cool, shut windows early in the morning, and open them again when the outdoor temperature becomes cooler than the outdoors. Refrigerators use a lot of electricity. A refrigerator ten or more years old may use about twice the energy of a new, efficient one. Taking averages into consideration, the old one might be costing you about two hundred dollars more a year to run than a new one. With any refrigerator, regularly check the seals for leaks and vacuum the coils and vents as they collect dust.
Water heaters, whether electric or gas, are another costly appliance and worth special care. With tanks, much of the cost is in keeping the water hot when it is not in use. Newer water heaters are much more efficient than older ones. On-demand tank-less heaters or solar water panels might be something you want to look into. In the mean time, get an insulation jacket for your tank if the tank does not have insulation, and insulation for your hot water pipes if you have not already done so. Set the tank thermostat to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Sediment builds up in the tank and reduces it’s efficiency, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for regular maintenance. Other appliances that use hot water, such as your dishwasher and clothes washer, will have settings that conserve energy.
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