It’s easy to underestimate how much utility bills add to the cost of owning or renting a house, condo, or apartment. But even small changes can result in large savings over the course of a few months or years. Here are six things you can try that may help you save money on your energy bill. Some you can even start today.
1. Adjust your thermostat
Heating and cooling costs account for about half of a typical home’s energy bill. To help reduce these costs, set your thermostat as low as you can without turning into a popsicle in the winter, and as high as you can without breaking into a sweat in the summer.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat so the temperature automatically adjusts higher or lower when you’re not at home or sleeping. You may be able to save up to 10% on your bill for every 7 - 10 degrees Fahrenheit you turn the thermostat back if it stays at that temperature for at least eight hours.
2. Make sure your home is properly insulated and sealed
If your home isn’t properly insulated, it’s easier for hot or cool air to escape. That means your HVAC system has to work harder to maintain the temperature in your home, which uses more energy.
Insulating your home may help keep the warm air in during the winter and the cold air in during the summer. Common areas in your home that may need to be insulated include the attic, walls, basement, and crawlspace.
And it’s not just what’s between your walls that matters. Doors, windows, electrical boxes, and plumbing fixtures are common areas of your home that let air in and out of your home. Caulk, seal, or weather strip these and other places in your home where you might have leaks.
For recommendations on the type of insulation that’s right for your home, check out this insulation buying guide or consider working with a contractor.
3. Install energy-efficient appliances
When it’s time to replace your dishwasher, hot water heater, washing machine, dryer, or any other appliance in your home, look for one with an Energy Star® label. They’re more efficient than non-Energy Star appliances, and you may qualify for financial incentives when you install one. To find out, visit the database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency website.
4. Reduce hot water usage and lower the water temperature
Heating water is the second largest energy expense for many homeowners, accounting for an average of 18% of electricity costs. Reducing the amount of hot water you use can help you save on your gas or electric bill. So opt for quick showers instead of baths. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load of dishes or clothes. And wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot whenever possible.
Consider setting the temperature on your hot water heater at 120°F. If yours is currently set above that, you may be able to save on hot water costs simply by lowering it.
5. Enroll in an energy rewards program
Some utility providers offer rewards programs that allow you to save money when you agree to let your utility provider cycle certain appliances, like your air conditioning and hot water heater, on and off when demand for electricity is high. If you participate, you may earn credits on your bill by using less electricity than normal during a cycling event.
6. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
Replacing your current light bulbs with energy-efficient versions might help you reduce the cost of keeping the lights on in your home. Look for energy-saving incandescent, CFL, and LED bulbs. They will probably cost a little more than traditional incandescent bulbs up front, but they may be able to help you save money in the long run by reducing your energy bill over time.
Not sure where to start on your energy-saving journey? Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once. Even small changes can help reduce your energy costs. Start with an area that feels manageable. After you’ve taken a couple of small steps, you may want to consider making bigger changes that might require more time, money, or even help from a professional.
Jennifer Brozic began her writing career at seven years old, when she scribed the epic tale of her kite-flying (and skyward-looking) uncle crossing paths with a deep hole in a sandy beach. After earning a degree in journalism, Jen worked in the insurance and financial services industries before earning a master’s degree in communication management. She left the nine-to-five corporate world in 2010 and has been freelance writing ever since. Her areas of expertise include insurance, financial planning & budgeting, and building credit.
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