For Lowering Your Utility Bills
Use these fixes to help reduce those sky-high utility bills
If Jack Frost has got your spirits down and your energy bills up, we’ve got a few fixes to help reduce those sky-high energy bills.
1: Let’s start with the obvious: You can easily cut down your bills by lowering your thermostat in the winter. The general rule of thumb is you’ll save 3 percent on your heating bill by lowering your thermostat just one degree. Many thermostat models now can be programmed to automatically lower the temperature during the day (while you’re at work) and overnight (when you’re bundled up in down bedding). Likewise, you can also lower the temperature of your water heater (to between 115 and 120 degrees) and you shouldn’t even notice the difference with normal water usage.
2: You can heat your home till the cows come home, but if your home has leaks, it won’t make a difference. The easiest fix is closing the curtains at night, which helps soften heat loss. For just a few bucks, you can buy caulk, weather stripping and door sweeps to block cold air from entering your home and hot air from escaping. Looking for a more lasting solution? Look into buying energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights that will work to stop energy loss all on their own.
3: Don’t neglect your heater, either. If your HVAC unit is an older model without built-in insulation, you can buy a jacket from a home improvement store. Keeping the unit toasty is especially important if it’s in an unheated area, like a basement or garage. And don’t forget to switch out the filter. Clogged filters greatly reduce a unit’s energy efficiency.
4: Modern log construction has come a long way from green wood and mortar. But air-dried logs are still 15 to 20 percent and will shrink over time, making log homes susceptible to air leakage. Most companies overcome these obstacles by kiln-drying the logs to thoroughly dry them out before construction. Chinking and caulking that expands as logs shrink can also deter air leaks. Check with your log provider to see what system they use to minimize leakage.
5: Appliances and home electronics typically make up 20 percent of a homeowner’s total energy bills. To save some cash, here are few ways to cut down on consumption. Let the dishes air-dry in the dishwasher if there’s time; shut down your computer or at least turn off the monitor when you’re not using it; and unplug any small electronics that you don’t use regularly. Another bright idea? Use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. Yes, CFL’s are more expensive to buy, but they’re less expensive in the long run as they use less energy and last much longer than traditional bulbs.