When you’ve got a monthly budget to stick to, an unusually high utility bill can put the squeeze on your bank account. You may budget a bit more money for heating and cooling costs during the winter and summer. But you can also take some steps to make your home operate as efficiently as possible, reducing your overall energy costs no matter what season it is.
Following are some easy ways to start saving money immediately, and some investments you can make that will pay off in the long run.
Lower your water heater temperature
Did you know that the cost of heating your water accounts for up to 25 percent of your total energy costs per year? While you obviously can’t go without hot water in your home, you may be able to save a significant amount of money by lowering the temperature on your water heater.
Water above 120 degrees Fahrenheit can scald skin in seconds, and if you’re super-heating your water to 140 degrees, you’re increasing your risk of scalding as well as wasting money on energy costs. Check the thermostat on your water heater and lower it to 120 degrees if it’s too high. Don’t set the temperature lower than 120 degrees, though, or you increase the risk of bacterial growth in your water heater.
Install reusable air filters
Reusable air filters for your home’s heating and cooling system can be a great investment. They cost a little more than disposable air filters, but they can be cleaned and reused instead of replaced every few months. These filters are also of a higher quality than disposables, and since cleaning and maintenance is so easy, many people are better at the upkeep. Heating and cooling systems work best when filters are clean, so don’t forget to check filters every few months to see if they need to be cleaned.
Improve appliance efficiency with a water softener
Hard water can interfere with the efficiency of appliances that use water. The minerals in hard water accumulate inside appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and coffee pots, and over time, these substances can destroy a heating element or create so much residue that the appliance isn’t able to function properly. A water softener can eliminate the problems associated with hard water, thus increasing the energy efficiency and lifespan of your appliances that use water.
Seal your windows
Drafty windows lead to a lot of energy loss, allowing cool air to escape in the summer and warm air to escape in the winter. As you prepare your home for winter, always check for drafty windows. Add weather stripping to fill any gaps you find, and cover your windows with shrink-wrap plastic that creates an air-tight seal. In the summer, don’t allow direct sunlight into your home. Room-darkening drapes and vertical or horizontal blinds can reduce the warming effect of sunlight, and as a result, your air conditioner expends less energy cooling your home.
In just a few hours’ time, you can make changes around your home that will result in big savings on utility bills. Even if you have to spend a little money up-front to lower your long-term energy costs, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.