Ways to Save Money on Utility Bills

Americans spend 5% to 15% of their income on utility bills, but they could easily slash hundreds or even thousands from their utility bills each year just by doing the following:

Lower Your Heating Bills. Home heating accounts for about one-third of the energy used in the typical home. Turning your thermostat down one degree can save you about 3% on your heating bills.   Turn it down even lower when you’re in bed at night and during the day when you're at work to save even more.  Close off rooms you don't use to conserve more energy, which could save you another 20%.  Weather strip doors and windows, insulate light switches and wall outlets (with insulating gaskets found in hardware stores), and insulate the attic to save about 30% on electricity bill. During the winter months, run ceiling fans clockwise so that warm air is forced downward from the ceiling.  This will reduce heating bill by another $100.  Shut the doors to rooms you aren’t using and turn off radiators in those rooms.  Do not close the vents to rooms you aren’t using as this could damage your central air conditioning system.  Your heating system will work more efficiently if you place houseplants in each room to absorb toxins and extend the life of the air filter, which allows you to lower the thermostat by several degrees.  Plant conifer trees on the north and northwest side of your property as a wind barrier to reduce your heating bill by as much as 30%.

Turn Your Water Heater Temperature Down.  Setting your water heater temperature to 120 degrees or lower can save you as much as $400 per year in electricity and water costs. If you blanket your water heater and insulate hot water pipes with foam or fiberglass sleeves can reduce your energy costs by 10 percent. You can install a switch so that your water heater is on only when you need hot water or use a timer so that the water heater is on only during certain times of the day.  You can turn your water heater off when you go on vacation.
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Use the microwave instead of the oven.  Microwave ovens use 80 percent less energy than a regular stove.  If you happen to use the stove to cook a lot and switch to using the microwave oven most of the time, you can reduce your electricity bill by hundreds each year. If you really like to use the oven to cook, consider buying a convection model which uses 20 percent less energy than the standard ove.

Save $150 a year using power strips.  Televisions and video game consoles use electricity even when they’re turned off, adding as much as $150 to your electric bill every year.  Plug all of your computers, televisions and consoles into an energy-saving power strip and turn the power strip off when you’re not using your electronics.   Some power strips are designed to switch off electronics when they aren’t in use.
Improve appliance efficiency -- The three biggest consumers of energy in your home are the heating system, hot water heater and refrigerator.  You can improve the efficiency of these appliances by making sure they are maintained.  Give your furnace a tune-up once a year.  Wrap the water heater to insulate it and clean the refrigerator coils at least twice a year.  Contact your utility company and find out if a reduced rate is offered during certain times of the day.  If so, use a timer to set your water heater so that it cycles during this period.  If your freezer is empty, freeze jugs or containers of water to fill up your freezer so that it will run more efficiently.

Switch to a new electricity supplier – You might get a lower rate from another company.  While you are comparing offers among the various suppliers, be sure to find out what the price per kilowatt hour is for electricity and the price per 1,000 cubic feet is for natural gas, and  if the rate is fixed or variable.  Also find out if you will be penalized in any way if you cancel the agreement with one supplier to go to another. Since meter readers do make mistakes, take the time to learn how to read a meter and compare what the meter says to the bill you receive every month.

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