No matter the season, your home is an energy-consuming machine. Some homes are a lot more efficient than others – in general, the newer your home, the less wasted energy it uses – but every home is literally loaded with places where you can cut your bills with simple modifications or painless lifestyle adjustments. Energy use makes for a comfortable life, and the key to maximizing that comfort is to make sure that the energy is being USED, not wasted.
Clean Your Refrigerator Coils – And Stock The Fridge! Big ticket items like refrigerators account for a large chunk of your power bill. The fluffy blanket of dust and grime on the back of most fridges makes them run harder and longer. The fuzz is like an insulating blanket in exactly the wrong place. Clean the back of your fridge thoroughly and keep it clean – a monthly wipedown is sufficient. Keeping the fridge stocked also cuts costs – it’s easier to keep foodchilled than it is to cool circulating air.
You Need to Breathe – Your House Doesn’t
Houses “breathe” – air flows in and out constantly from every seam, gasket, or opening. That can be good, when you have a nice cool breeze on a hot day – but far more often you are literally pouring money into the air. Make sure your windows and doors are solidly weatherstripped, and install inexpensive foam gaskets behind electrical outlets and switch plates. Enclose outside water spigots with Styrofoam insulating covers when they aren’t in use, and check your interior airflow with a helium balloon – you can find surprisingly large leaks by seeing where the balloon floats in each room.
The Sun Is Free Heat in the Winter
When you’re heating your house in the winter, use the enormous solar furnace provided for you at no charge by the management. Open blinds and shades that get sun exposure during the day and let the heat flow in – then close those openings with heavy curtains when the sun is gone. Reverse the process in the summer– open up at night, close down in the daylight.
Slay the Energy Vampires Modern electronics are notorious for being “energy vampires” – they consume electricity in shocking amounts even when they aren’t being used! Computers, televisions, stereos, phone chargers, and more – shut them all the way off, or even unplug the big-ticket items like computers, when they aren’t going to be in use. Manufacturers are getting better about this, but electronic devices in “sleep” mode (turned off but plugged in) are often still drawing a lot of power. Know your devices (you might even try reading the manual!) and put a stake through your electric bill by cutting the power to your electronics that don’t play nice.
Some Like it Hot – But Only Hot Enough The odds are good that your water heater is set much higher than you need it to be. Adjust the thermostat downwards slowly until you notice your shower just isn’t warm enough or the clothes aren’t getting clean – then nudge it back up to the right level. Most water heaters are installed with the thermostat at 140 degrees or so and the setting is never adjusted – you only need it to be as hot as you need it to be, and for every degree above that level, you’re spending money for nothing.
These simple tips can put a big dent in your energy bills – and we’ve only scratched the surface. There are a lot of other great energy-saving ideas available online.