Ways to Cut Your Utility Bills

by Justin Weinger on October 2, 2006

Remember when you lived at home and your parents were always reminding you to turn off the light when you left a room or asking you to not run the water while you were brushing your teeth?  At the time, you probably just thought they were on your case for the sake of being on your case and you probably didn’t realize that what they were really asking you to do is help them save a boat load of money on the utility bills.

If you really think about it, it’s pretty amazing how much energy we waste each day.  Since you have to pay for all of the energy you consume (not necessary the energy you put to productive use) it’s probably in your best interest to save as much energy as possible.

Below are some very simple ways you can reduce your utility bills and save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year:

Electricity:

  1. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  2. Replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
  3. Don’t have the TV or radio on for the sake of having background music.
  4. Does your computer have to be on all day?  Turn it off when not in use.
  5. Turn off ceiling fans / regular fans when you leave a room.
  6. Air dry clothes whenever possible.

Heating/Cooling

  1. Use a programmable thermostat.
  2. If you’re going to be out of the house, raise the air conditioning temperature or lower the heat.
  3. Replace your furnace’s air filter every month.  This will help your air system operate more efficiently.
  4. Use fans to help circulate cool and space heaters to warm specific rooms, but remember to turn these items off when you leave the room.

Water/Hot Water:

  1. Take showers, not baths.
  2. Set the hot water thermostat to no more than 115 degrees.
  3. Only do full loads of laundry, and always use cold water.
  4. Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load.

This should be a pretty good list to get you started in regards to simple ways to save money around the house.  You’re utilities are probably always going to be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to cut some costs when possible!

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{ 4 comments }

jake October 3, 2006 at 10:29 pm

Does anybody have hard numbers on savings from personal experience with these measures? I bet that most of these measures, save the programmable thermostat, will yield only small savings in total.

The biggest energy hogs are your refrigerator, older electrically-powered heating systems, devices with standby power (Devices that can be activated w/ remotes). Buying newer appliances will save more money than keeping your house dark. The biggest source of passive energy waste is poor insulation. Improving that will save far more in the long term than hanging your clothes on a clothesline.

Some of the suggestions above are actually counter-productive. Turning fans on repeatedly, for example, when you go in and out of rooms takes more energy (if done faithfully) than leaving them on, not to mention shortens the motor life, thereby making you spend more money on fans in the long run. PC’s are mostly solid state, meaning that the longer you leave them on, the more efficiently they use energy. Power up and power down activities consume most of the PC’s operating power, not to mention put wear and tear on delicate hard drive mechanisms. Turning off your monitor will save the most energy, assuming it’s the old-style CRT — LCD monitors sip electricity. Even at California electric rates, the differential between operating a PC 4 hours/day and 20 hours/day is about $8.00/mo.

Compact fluorescent lights are hard on human physiology. We are designed to exist under yellow light (the sun), not blue-white light. The blue-shifted light of a CFL makes people more irritable when not mixed with natural or yellow light, and some people are sensitive enough to get headaches from them. Plus, CFL lights (and LED lamps, for that matter) are not dimmable, making them a less versatile option than incandescents or halogens. Try creating a romantic mood with good food, good music, and a stark CFL bulb (OK, candles are an option, but that’s not the debate here).

Sam October 4, 2006 at 12:44 am

Hot water heater at 115F? Sure, it saves money, but it’s too cold for the dishwasher to operate efficiently.

Jane Flyg November 5, 2006 at 2:48 pm

And don’t rinse the dishes in hot water before putting them in the dishwasher!

brian.carr November 9, 2006 at 10:27 am

Jane – Thanks for the tip!

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