Cutting Utility Expenses

It takes a lot to run a household, and electricity is needed to run virtually everything in a house. From powering our lights, electronics, appliances, to heat, air conditioning and warming our hot water, electricity is what keeps our home running.

With each electronic we plug into an electrical socket and each load we put into the washing machine, we are using more electricity throughout homes, which in turn makes our utility bill rise. Controlling energy costs can help homeowners and renters alike create a household budget for other expenses. From simple fixes to replacing appliances, you can easily see the return on your investment with a lower utility bill. This article will are tips on how you can reduce your utility expenses. If you know where to look, you will instantly be about to see how you are cutting your utility expenses in every room in the house.

Be More Conscious of Your Source of Lighting

In the United States, a significant portion of household’s energy budget, around 11 percent, is devoted to lighting costs, but there are several ways for you to reduce the amount of electricity used around your home. If you want to start small with cutting utility expenses, you can become more conscious of how much lighting you use around the house. When lights are not in use, or if natural daylight is emitting sufficient lighting, you should turn lights off to save energy. Doing so can decrease home lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent. You can also make better use of your daylight hours. Open your blinds during the day to make the best use of natural daylight. Also, take advantage of any skylights or any other natural sources to reduce the amount of lighting that you use during daylight hours. If you find you have space in your home where you have an unnecessary lamp, or two, remove them from any areas with excessive lighting. Also, use task lighting whenever you can and also implement a routine lighting maintenance schedule. You can also check your light levels against standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). Doing so will allow you to see if you have areas in your home that are over- or under-lit.

Once you have taken organic steps to reducing the amount of lighting you use, you can move on to a slightly more significant action, by purchasing energy-efficient light bulbs. If you use them effectively, you can reduce the price of your power bill and the number of light bulbs that you throw away each year. If you want to become even less dependent on artificial lighting, you can incorporate more daylight into your home by using windows and skylights that are energy-efficient.

Heating and Cooling

Depending on the time of year, and wherein the country you live, you can be spending a considerable part of your energy household budget to heating and cooling. However, by upgrading insulation, thermostat settings, ensuring proper air seals and installing proper equipment maintenance and updates, you can cut your energy use for heating and cooling significantly.

To cut back the cost of heating and cooling to reduce your overall utility expense, you can also start small, you can adjust the thermostat when you are out of the house for extended periods of time. You can also adjust your thermostats for seasonal changes and rely more on fans during cooler weather. You should make sure to replace or clean your HVAC filters monthly when your cooling and heating systems see heavy use. Dirty filters can reduce the efficiency of equipment and reduce the quality of the air in your home, thus increasing your energy bill.

To maximize your heating and cooling savings each season, you can make certain repairs and adjustments to your home to help reduce energy costs. When you need to cool your house frequently and constantly, you can take measures to reduce the sunlight that comes through glass windows. The best way to do this is to install window tinting or similar products on your windows, especially on windows that face west and east. Planting trees, bushes and other vegetation can be a more cost efficient way to reduce the amount of sunlight that comes through the windows. During colder seasons when you use heating appliances more frequently, sunlight typically comes in through south facing windows. Letting this sunlight come in from this direction can help warm up your home to reduce your reliance on heating equipment.

Water Heating Water-heating expenses are another large bill in an American household, as it typically makes up about 12 percent of the utility expenses. To reduce the amount of water heating energy you use in your household, you can also start with small steps. If you reduce your hot-water use, get better insulation for your water heater and/or adjust the water heater’s thermostat to a lower temperature, you can help reduce some of these expenses. Using cold water instead of hot water when washing a load of laundry can also reduce water heater expenses. Installing an energy-efficient water heater, although a larger expense up front, can reduce your bill down the road.

Thermostatic control valves in your showers can help with water heater expenses by turning off the shower once the water reaches a certain temperature. These valves can save you save hot water and energy until you or someone in your household is ready to get in the shower. Some shower heads are more energy efficient and can contribute to savings on your utility bill, as they reduce how much energy you need to heat the water.

Sealing and Insulating When you properly seal and insulate your home, you have the potential to save energy by reducing drafts in your homes. In a home, air often leaks around places that have caulking, spray foam and similar sealants. Doors and windows, along with similar openings, are also susceptible to improper sealing and insulation that can contribute to higher energy costs. With this improper insulation and sealing, warm air can get into your home and cause you to raise your thermostat and use more cooling appliances. During cooler months, your heated air can go to waste if it leaks out through these weak points. Both scenarios can lead to excessive costs and make your house uncomfortable. Increasing the insulation in your home is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways that you can reduce energy waste in the home.

Make sure your seal ducts around the house are straight and adequately connected since many duct systems are not properly insulated, or they have gaps or holes where air leaks out. Also, add insulation through the house to cut your utility expenses. Make sure to add insulation to your attic, basement and similar spaces when you improve air seals. Taking these steps will help regulate your home temperature and reduce your heating and cooling bills.

Appliances and Electronics Household appliances contribute to a significant portion of a household’s energy expenses. Refrigerators, washing machines and dryers are essential appliances for many homeowners, but these appliances are also responsible for much of the energy consumption. To save money when doing laundry, you can use your dryer less and rely more on air-drying. Line drying your clothes instead of putting every load into the dryer can reduce your average daily electricity costs. You can cut utility expenses even more by using your appliances, such as ovens, dishwashers and clothes dryers at night. By using these appliances at night when the outside temperature is cooler, you use less energy inside the home since your air conditioning unit does not have to work as hard to cool the house to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Lastly, if you can afford to, you can replace these appliances with more energy-efficient options. You can opt for a green dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine and dryers, to name a few. If you can afford to replace your appliances, doing so can help your save on energy expenses in the long run. If you are a renter, you should talk to your landlord about switching the appliances. Even if they can only afford to replace one item at a time, the benefits will be significant. These appliances will also save you money on your water bill.

One of the most significant ways that you can cut expenses on your utility bill is to unplug your electronics each day, such as your phone chargers, computer chargers and other small household appliances. Alternatively, you can purchase a power strip, which shuts off all the electricity to these devices with one quick switch. Buying a smart power strip will prevent vampire draw, which is electronics that suck power during the night. By reducing your utility bill, you can set aside the savings to create an emergency fund to help with any unforeseen household or personal expenses.

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