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Find how to save money on energy bills.

Saving money on costly utility bills may be done by making a few simple adjustments in your home. Almost everything thing that can be done to cut back on monthly energy bills simple, and most of them are free to do. In order to be a more energy efficient household, consider the following ideas:

-Avoid placing lamps or televisions near your room-air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat given off by these appliances and in turn, will cause the air conditioner to run at longer intervals.

-If you have ceiling fans throughout your home, use them to reduce the cost of your utilities. One way to do this is to “flip the switch” near the blades of the fan. By flipping the switch in warm weather months, the blades will spin in a counterclockwise direction, which creates a “wind chill” effect. In winter months, flip the switch to a clockwise position to create a gentle updraft effect. This will push warm air down from the ceiling to the more occupied area of a room.

-Adjust your thermostat when using a ceiling fan concurrently to reduce energy costs. In summer months, you can turn the thermostat up 3-5 degrees without feeling uncomfortable, and it can save a substantial amount of money on air conditioning bills. This will save money as utilizing your ceiling fan is less costly than running an air conditioner unit. During the winter months, lower the thermostat set point by 3-5 degrees as well as the ceiling fan will push warm air down to the living area of a room.

-A ceiling fan that is in proportion to a room can be highly effective in cooling or warming the area. Typically, a fan that is 36-44 inches in diameter will cool rooms up to 225 square feet. A bigger room will require a bigger ceiling fan or multiple fans for temperature comforts.

-If you are out of your home or out of a particular room, turn the fan off entirely. Or even use a motion sensor to turn it off. There is no reason to run the fan if the room is unoccupied.

-Sealing air leaks is one of the easiest and most cost effective improvements you can make to your home. Weather stripping doors and windows is one of the first steps to creating an energy efficient household. Sealing your home keeps heated and cooled air indoors, making the temperature inside comfortable and in turn, reduces the cost of the energy bill. The federal government can even pay for this cost as part of the free weatherization program.




Common areas for air leaks within a home include holes drilled into walls, ceilings and attics where there are plumbing pipes and electrical lines. Outlet covers and recessed lights may also have small gaps. Check outside around your home where different building materials meet such as the foundation perimeter, around outdoor water faucets and where the siding/chimney meets. Indoors consider checking electrical and water services entrances, baseboards, door and window frames and attic hatches. That can help reduce energy costs by 30 percent.

-Doors and windows with gaps at the frame need weather stripping. Small gaps such as around baseboards can typically be filled with caulk. Larger areas of air flow and holes such as those around pipes will probably need foam or foil insulation. Feeling these in cut back on cooling as well as winter heating bills.  It is the surest way to close the holes and gaps around openings, thereby helping to reduce cooling and heating bills you need to pay by 15 to 30 percent.

-Seams or gaps in ducts are typically sealed with a special duct sealant or metal tape which are available at home improvement stores. Lowes and Home Depor sell them for a few dollars, and that small expense will pay dividends in future savings.

-It is very important not to seal up a home so rigidly that proper ventilation is compromised. A safe home does need some air leakage to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation. Do not plug up vents that bring outside air to a gas or propane furnace or stove.

Additional simple tips to save money on utilities

In addition to those ideas, there are over 20 other things that can be done. This list tends to include tasks that are a little easier to implement. Many of them can be done in a matter of minutes, if not less time.

1) Use the cold-water wash cycle on your washing machine. Not all clothes need to be washed in warm or hot water. This will help save about $60 a year in water bills.





2) Use programmable thermostats to save up to 10% on heating bills. They are simple to install, and are very cheap to buy. They allow a family to set the temperature of their home so it is not being heated or cooled when they are not even there. Read more on using programmable thermostats to save money.

3) Stop pre rinsing dishes. Numerous tests have found that it is not necessary. Just put them right into the dishwasher. You will save up to 6,500 gallons of water per year.

4) Put your PC to hibernate or sleep. You will save $25 to $75 every year on your electric bill by using the hibernating feature or system standby on your computer. It is simple to set this up one time.

5) Clean the coils underneath or behind your refrigerator with a tapered appliance brush to keep it running energy efficiently.

6) Properly inflate car tires. In various tests of a Toyota Camry, the cars fuel efficiency dropped 1.3 mpg when the tires were deflated by 10 psi. Ask the oil change shop to this when as well you stop there.

7) Plug electronic items into a single power strip so that you can turn them all off at once. It makes it simple to turn everything off at the flip of a switch, thereby cutting back on electricity bills.

8) Do not overload your dryer. Your clothes will take longer to dry, and they will also come out more wrinkled. When the weather is nice, line dry.

9) Use a slow cooker. You will use a lot less electricity than cooking a meal using the oven and/or several burners.

10) Open shades and blinds. Solar heat gain will increase interior temperature significantly in the day. But close those shades and blinds at night to minimize heat loss.

11) See if your utility company offers rebates if you replace old appliances with energy-efficient models. Some states will also hold periodic "tax holidays" for the purchasing of energy-efficient, Energy Star  appliances. If you need to buy a new furnace or appliance, use these free rebates.

12) Lower the water temperature in your water heater to 120 degrees from 130. In addition to that, another ways to save is insulate hot-water pipes will help save up to 5 percent off your energy bills.

13) Add insulation. Over 80 percent of older homes are under insulated. Properly sealing and insulating your home can help cut your cooling and heating bills by 10 percent.

14) Lower the temperature a degree or two before any house guests arrive. As many know, a house full of people generates a lot of body heat. Another benefit of this tip is it will make the home more comfortable as it will be less stuffy.

15) Pay for LED lights this holiday season. They last much longer. Our tests have shown that they can help save up to $11 per season.

16) Replace, or at least clean, furnace filters monthly during the heating season. Dirty or clogged filters force the blower to work longer, thereby raising the amount you are paying on your electric bills. It also adds to the life of the HVAC system.





17) Set outdoor lights with timers or sensors so that lights stay off during the day.

18) Install a high-efficiency shower head. It will help lower hot water use by up to 50 percent, and help you save on water bills your are paying. There are many DIY websites or books that show people how to install them.

19) Upgrade to a low-flow toilet and save up to 4,000 gallons per year of water.

20) Remove or drain a bucket's worth of water from your water heater several times a year to remove unwanted sediment, which can decrease efficiency. This also adds to the life of the appliance.

21) Move your thermostat to an inside wall, away from doors and windows, so that wind or drafts don't cause the heating system to turn on unnecessarily.

22) Plant a tree on the southwest and west sides of a house to save on energy bills. This helps with solar heating and/or cooling.

23) Zone heat smartly. For example, a portable heater in a room in your house saves money on electric bills only if you're willing to keep the rest of the house chilly. Also, wood-burning fireplaces can suck more heat from your house than they put back in.

24) You need to call a professional energy auditor. They use  infrared photography or a blower door to pinpoint where your home is leaking energy, and how you can save on electric and heating bills. This can also be done as part of weatherization. Some utility companies provide free energy audits; you can also find certified professionals in your area.

By Jon McNamara

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