Energy bills often make up a hefty chunk of our monthly expenses. These only get worse as the extreme temperatures of summer or winter hit. Saving money on these significant expenses doesn’t have to be a bother. You don’t have to sacrifice your comfort, or go to great lengths to lower your energy costs. Here are some tips for bringing down the bills!
Make Your Thermostat Work for You
Your thermostat is your front line of defense against high energy bills. How and when you set your thermostat can make a difference in how much energy your HVAC system will use. Modern advancements in thermostat technology can also bring you significant savings.
During the winter months, when you are heating your home, keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees. This temperature will keep most people comfortable. If you find yourself getting chilly, reach for a sweater or a blanket instead of the thermostat. Adding another layer of clothes can mean surprising savings.
In the summertime, when you are cooling your home, keep the thermostat set at 75 degrees while you are home. Utilize standing fans, or ceiling fans, to help keep the cool air circulating, as well as to add to your personal comfort. Be certain your ceiling fan is set to rotate in the proper direction for cooling.
When you leave the house, set your thermostat lower during the winter and higher during the summer. Setting your heater to 65 degrees when you go to work, or when you head out on vacation, will do wonders for your energy usage. Similarly, during the summer, pushing your thermostat to 78 degrees when you’re gone will make a difference.
If you’re still using an older, traditional thermostat, consider having a programmable thermostat installed in your home. Programmable thermostats allow you to input the temperatures you’d like to maintain at certain times of day. The thermostat will take care of these changes automatically. You can set it to begin raising or lowering the temperature just before you leave for work, then start bringing your house to your preferred temperature just before you arrive home again.
Some programmable thermostats will learn your habits and make changes based on your heating and cooling patterns. Others can take commands from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer. Investigating these choices is a good first step to bringing down your energy bill.
The Importance of Maintenance
When your HVAC unit is running well, routine maintenance may seem like a waste of time and money. Nothing could be further from the truth. Routine maintenance on your heating and cooling system not only allows you to spot potential problems before they become critical. Yearly visits to tune up your system can keep it running smoothly and using less energy.
One of the most important maintenance tasks you can perform is changing the air filter. This simple sheet of thin material can have a tremendous impact on both your energy bill and the health of your HVAC system. It protects the inner workings of your heating and cooling equipment from the build up of dust, sediment, and airborne particles.
A clogged, dirty filter impedes air flow through the unit. This results in decreased air flow through your vents, which means it will take longer for the system to cool your home, and will cost you money. The additional force that the motor uses to push the air through the filter drives up bills as well. Change your air filter every 60 to 90 days, sooner if you have many pets or have done home improvement work where dust has gotten kicked up.
Keep your indoor and outdoor coils clean. Dirty coils will result in more electrical usage by your HVAC unit. Coil cleaning should only be done by professionals. It requires skill and knowledge to perform safely and efficiently. Ask your HVAC professional to do this once or twice a year.
Scheduling a yearly service visit will pay dividends in prolonging the life of your heating and cooling system. It will also save you money on your monthly bills, because your system will run more efficiently.
Sometimes, saving energy means a major overhaul in your HVAC system. Sound ductwork, good insulation, and a properly sized unit all impact your energy bills. These jobs seem intimidating, but they can be well worth the investment.
Be certain all ductwork is insulated. Ducts should not have leaks or weak jointing. These air passages make up the circulatory system of your heating and cooling scheme. When they leak, your energy bill pays the price.
If your heating and cooling units are too large for your home, they will use more energy than is necessary to keep you and your family comfortable. Conversely, if your HVAC system is too small, it will have to do more work than it should. If your system is old, it may use more energy than it needs to perform the same work a more modern unit would. Ask your HVAC professional to evaluate your current system for upgrade possibilities.
Outside your HVAC system, look over your major appliances for their energy rating. Energy-efficient appliances will lower your energy bills, and pay for themselves over time. The Energy Star rating is a good indication of an appliance’s energy efficiency.
Not every step you take towards lowering your energy bills has to be a big one. Little steps add up to much larger savings. It’s as simple as unplugging a toaster!
A “phantom load” is the energy consumed by an appliance when it’s not in active use. Phone chargers without phones plugged into them and electronics in standby mode all waste energy. To prevent this, all you need to do is unplug them when they aren’t in use.
Exchange your old, incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. These bulbs cost more at the outset, but they last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use less energy. During the day, use as much natural light as you can. Lighter paint reflects light better than darker, and helps brighten a dark room without more energy use.
Check doors and windows for air leaks. Conditioned air can escape through gaps beneath doors, or an improperly sealed window. Weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to apply, but it can save you a bundle on your monthly bills.
Set your water heater to the lowest effective temperature. Consider using colder water to wash your clothes. Many companies now offer detergents that work well with cold water.
There are many ways you can save money on your energy bills. Even though some ways may involve an initial investment, the money that you will save in the long run will make up for it. Other steps you can take cost you nothing, or next to nothing, and will significantly benefit you and your family.