Stay Comfortable AND Save Money With These Utility Tips

Just like your taxes, utility bills both aren't going anywhere and seem to be rising by the year. While there are some counties and states starting to use more renewable energy sources that are bringing electricity prices down, most Americans still spend hundreds more than they should be. This is because there are some fantasticly simple ways for both renters and homeowner stop to reduce their energy usage without sacrificing their comfort. Continue reading to learn how you can cut your costs starts today:

Stay Comfortable AND Save Money With These Utility Tips

  1. Swap out those older light bulbs. You undoubtedly have heard this one before, but it bears mentioning over again because of how much you can save on today's more efficient light bulbs. Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs may be cheap upfront but paying less now translates to buying more tomorrow. These light bulbs are incredibly inefficient and have woefully short lifespan. In contrast, if you spend just a few more dollars at the store for more efficient LED alternatives, you can get a light bulb that will reduce your energy costs by as much as $80/bulb over its competitor's lifetime, and can last you for ten years or longer. 
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. Installing a programmable thermostat is incredibly easy and can often be done in less than thirty minutes and with making only one or two new screw holes. In fact, it's so simple to install these things that even renters should have no problem adding a programmable thermostat to their living space. And once you do add one, you'll find yourself wondering why it took so long! A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature in your living space according to your schedule, keeping it comfortable when you're home and adjusting for efficiency when you're not. This can save you as much as 20 percent on your heating and cooling costs which, for most of us, take up the bulk of your utility bill. 
  3. Make it easy to turn off your electronics and cut off phantom loads. Phantom loads are what the energy experts call the wasted energy appliances and electronic devices use when they aren't being used directly for you. For example, a plugged-in laptop or computer will drain significant power when just left in. By some estimates released by the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 75% of the electricity a household uses is consumed when products are going unused and considered 'off'. The easiest way to fix such power drains is to take advantage of power strips and plug in your big appliances and devices into power strips that can be easily turned completely off when you're not using them. As with the programmable thermostat, you will still enjoy all the electricity and benefits you want when you want them, but you won't have to pay any longer for electricity that is being used when you're not even in the house. 
  4. Insulate and seal. This one is for the homeowners but it is a very important one. It takes a lot of energy (money) to heat and cool a home and so the last thing you want to do is have a home that has to keep heating and cooling an indoor living space because the air keeps escaping. Yet, so many people do just this! The air in your home will always want to equalize itself with the air outside. The best way to stop this is to improve your home's insulation and ensure all the gaps, cracks, and seams that exist between your home's inside and outside are properly sealed. 
  5. Turn down your hot water heater and consider swapping to a tankless water heater. Do you really need your hot water heater set at scalding temperatures? Like with phantom appliances and devices, your hot water heater is keeping your water hot 24/hours a day, 7/days a week -- and costing you for every moment of it. So, the first step everyone should do regardless of whether you own or rent is to adjust the setting down a bit to comfortable but not expensive levels (120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.89 °C) is considered a perfect balance). Additionally, if you do own your own home and are coming up on a time to replace your water heater, then you might consider switching to a tankless water heater, also known as a demand heater. These systems start heating water only when you turn on the faucet so while there is a small delay, you aren't paying for keeping water constantly hot. This can save you as much as 35% on the electricity associated with your water heater.

While change can be hard, we hope that these tips show how just a few adjustments can translate to big energy savings. These adjustments won't stop you from enjoying the same type of home comforts that you do now -- you'll still enjoy the same bright lights, electronic devices, hot water, and conditioned air -- but they will help stop you from throwing away money on electricity used when you aren't home or aren't using items.