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How To Save Money On Utility Bills

By Staff Writer
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Prices are rising, and the cost of living continues to increase. Those spiraling costs make energy efficiency more important than ever. In addition to the general—and largely unavoidable—rising costs, the average U.S. household pays 5%–10% more than they need to on utility bills every month.

Those overpayments are often due to inefficient appliances, a lack of knowledge, and bad habits. So, if you're looking for practical ways to save money and enjoy a more sustainable lifestyle, start with your energy consumption at home.

01

Get an energy audit to identify problem areas

To save energy, you first need to learn where you're wasting it! An energy audit examines your energy consumption, identifies where your home uses the most power, and suggests improvements. Check whether your utility company offers free energy audits.

If not, use resources from the U.S. Department of Energy to perform a DIY energy assessment, like checking insulation levels and reviewing your power bills to evaluate usage habits.

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02

Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable or smart thermostat gives you more control over your heating and cooling habits, helping you improve usage. Some valuable features include

  • Set temperature schedules
  • Automatic adjustments due to preset preferences
  • Optimize settings for lower heating and higher cooling temperatures during sleep
  • Remote operation while you're away
  • Adaptive algorithms that adjust to your schedule and preferences for enhanced savings

Using a smart thermostat can save you 10%–30% on your heating and cooling bills.

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03

Upgrade to ENERGY STAR appliances

Homeowners who invest in energy-efficient appliances can reduce waste through better energy consumption. Look for the ENERGY STAR label to ensure you're buying products with technology designed to lower energy use. The upgrade to an ENERGY STAR washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher helps save money in the long run.

You may also qualify for tax rebates or credits when you invest in an energy-efficient water heater or furnace. Check the government ENERGY STAR website for tax credit information. Even small purchases like LED light bulbs and low-flow showerheads can make an impact.

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04

Adopt smart habits with your electronics

Most households have several electronic devices, like TVs, computers, video game consoles, and digital coffee makers. While they make life easier, those devices also consume power when you're not using them. They remain in standby mode even when turned off, and that phantom energy use can average as much as $100 annually. Therefore, consider unplugging electronics while they're not in use.

Using smart power strips and choosing appliances with lower standby power can also help minimize "vampire" power without disrupting daily routines.

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05

Do your laundry in cold water

Choosing the cold-water setting on your washing machine can significantly reduce energy use and save you money. That's because about 90% of a washing machine's energy consumption comes from heating the water. In addition, your laundered items may last longer due to the gentler nature of the cold water washing versus warm or hot water cycles.

That means less need for replacements, which equals even more savings.

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06

Lower the temperature of your water heater

The default setting on most water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. By dropping that setting to 120 degrees, you can save money without giving up comfort. The lower setting reduces standby heat loss and uses less energy when you shower, do laundry, and wash dishes. The cooler temperature also lessens the risk of scalding.

For additional savings, set the temperature lower than 120 degrees when you leave home for extended periods.

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07

Use your utility company's off-peak rates wisely

Many utility companies charge different rates based on the days of the week and time of day. These "time-of-use" plans apply lower rates for energy use during off-peak periods. You can save money on your utility bills by performing high-energy-draining tasks during those lower-rate hours.

Washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and water heaters are high-energy-use appliances you can use strategically, without disrupting your daily routine, if your utility company offers time-of-use plans.

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08

Adopt good HVAC maintenance habits

Regular maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system supports efficient energy consumption and extends the life of your HVAC equipment. That's important for energy and money savings because heating and cooling are responsible for about half of your household's total energy usage. So, stick to your system's recommended maintenance schedule and change your air filters as required.

Those good habits can help you save up to 15% in heating and cooling costs versus what you'd likely spend after neglecting your HVAC system.

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09

Find and seal air leaks

Leaks let outside air into your temperature-controlled home and allow cooled or heated air to escape. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program estimates that air leaks account for 25%–40% of energy loss. That loss hits where your energy consumption is the highest: heating and cooling.

Visually inspect your home for cracks and holes in floors and ceilings and around windows and doors. Use a flashlight to detect tiny leaks around openings in your house. Alternatively, hire a professional to depressurize the house and locate leaks with a blower door test. Seal any gaps with weatherstripping or caulk.

Share to PinterestHouse Door Threshold Seal Leaking Cold Winter Air Indoors
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10

Embrace natural light

Artificial lighting is responsible for 9%–12% of your home's overall energy consumption. You can reduce that amount and the associated utility bills by taking advantage of natural light. Leave windows unblocked and open curtains and blinds during the day to let in the sunlight.

White paint, light-colored window treatments, and reflective surfaces can enhance natural light. If it's in your budget, consider using solar tubes or installing skylights to increase the effect of natural light in your home.

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