Ten Ways to Shrink Your Bills
Easy ways to lower your monthly utility bills and save more of your money!
Today's topic is about how to save money by reducing your utility bills. I'll share 10 ways to help you keep more of your hard-earned money.
In the last show I discussed inflation. As prices rise, it's a good idea to compensate for these increases by reducing spending wherever possible. Whether you rent or own a home, there are many simple ways to lower your utility bills. Just a few small changes in your routines and habits can add up to big savings over time. Consider the following 10 tips to save energy and money in your home:
1. Be conservative with your air conditioning (A/C) thermostat settings. During warm weather, try not to cool your home to a temperature lower than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Every degree you choose to raise the thermostat above 78 can reduce your cooling costs by as much as 10%. When you leave for work or go away on a summer vacation, raise the thermostat to a minimum of 80 degrees.
And during cold weather, set the temperature to the lowest comfortable setting. It's recommended to aim for 68-70 degrees during the day. Every degree above 70 can cost you an additional 7 to 10%. Consider the fact that warming your home to 75 degrees consistently could cost up to 47% more than keeping it at a moderate 70 degrees. And at night, pull out that extra blanket and lower the thermostat to 60 to 65 degrees. This night time adjustment alone can save you 10 to 20% in heating costs.
2. Use portable fans or ceiling fans. If you've never used ceiling fans, consider installing them. They're inexpensive and allow most people to raise their thermostat setting in warm weather or lower it in cool weather by approximately 3-4 degrees and feel just as comfortable. Reversible ceiling fans help during cold weather by pulling heat from the ceiling and pushing it downward. Use fans only in rooms that are occupied and remember to turn them off when you're away.
3. Reduce the workload on your A/C unit. Inside your home, make sure your air filters are clean and that the air return vents and registers aren't blocked by furniture, drapes or rugs. Outside your home, check that A/C units are free of debris and not blocked by shrubs.
Use drapes, shades, or awnings to block the sun during the hottest part of the day in warm weather. Then during cold weather open drapes and shades to let the heat in, but keep them closed at night to reduce heat loss.
4. Cook with a microwave oven. Microwaves are inexpensive and use up to 30% less energy than traditional ovens to cook or reheat food. Plus they won't add extra heat in the kitchen during warm weather.
5. Shorten laundry cycles and use more cold water. Using less hot water and choosing shorter wash cycles will save both energy and water. Try to wait until you have a full load or be sure to adjust the water level accordingly when doing smaller loads of laundry.
6. Minimize dryer time & maximize use. Hot dryers pull a lot of energy, so be sure to remove clothes while they're still damp to save energy. Always do one dryer load right after another. This maximizes the heat that's already built up in the dryer from the prior load. And if your dryer is inside your home, make sure it's properly vented to reduce the strain on your A/C during warm weather.
7. Reduce hot-water settings. For every 10 degrees that you reduce your hot-water heater thermostat, it's possible to lower your power bill by 5%. A good temperature setting is 120 degrees if your dishwasher has a hot water booster, or 130 degrees if not. And remember to turn off hot water heaters at the circuit breaker when you're going to be away for 3 or more days.
8. Save more water. Taking a short shower instead of a bath can save four to five gallons of water. Other ways to save water include running a dishwasher only with a full load of dishes, repairing leaky faucets, and being mindful not to let faucets run unnecessarily.
9. Give your refrigerator a check up. Because refrigerators and freezers operate constantly, they use a lot of energy. To increase their efficiency, periodically pull them away from the wall to make sure they're clean. The motor, coils and vents should be kept free of dust. When putting the refrigerator back in place, be sure to leave sufficient room for air to circulate. The ideal temperature setting for refrigerators is from 35 to 42 degrees and for freezers from 0 to 5 degrees.
10. Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances. When you do have to purchase a new appliance, such as a refrigerator or washing machine, consider spending a little more up front for the energy savings that will come from long-term use of these state of the art appliances.
For tips on reducing spending in other areas, please see my episode about saving money.
For more money saving tips check out the September issue of ShopSmart magazine at ShopSmartmag.org. They're from the publisher of Consumer Reports and were a contributor to today's topic. Also consider visiting the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy at aceee.org as well as the website of your local power company.
Make-It-Green Girl is another excellent show in the Quick and Dirty Tips Network. The last several episodes have been devoted to energy and water conservation. For lots more green practices that are good for the Earth and for your bank account, find the Make-It-Green Girl podcast at quickanddirtytips.com or in iTunes.
Have you ever read a book by David Sedaris? He's an incredibly funny author who just released his sixth essay collection titled When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sedaris always delivers an intelligent and moving viewpoint on the absurdities of life. His publisher describes him as being able to use life's most bizarre moments to reach new heights in understanding love and fear, family and strangers.
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Chi-Ching, that's all for now, courtesy of Money Girl, your guide to a richer life.