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Am I the only one who refuses to turn on the heat until my family starts wearing winter hats inside? I like to wait as long as I can to flip that switch because as soon as I do, our utility bills are going to skyrocket.
And wearing a sweatshirt inside or an extra pair of socks isn’t too much to ask, is it?
As a frugal fanatic, I’m constantly searching for ways to lower our bills through simple lifestyle changes and tweaks. But I don’t want to be miserable, either. I’ll try out new tactics for a while to see if it saves money and fits well into my life. If it’s too much of a sacrifice, it usually isn’t worth it for me.
In my search for great ways to lower our expenses, I want to share some simple hacks that can genuinely save you money on your energy bill.
1 – Stop the Draft
Though it takes a bit more time than simply changing a light bulb, checking for air leaks around your home is definitely worth the time it takes. Leaks cause your HVAC system to run more than it needs to, costing you money and wearing on your system.
You can save over 20% on heating and cooling bills by adding appropriate weatherstripping. Make sure any openings to outside within your home are well sealed. Add door sweeps, use caulking cord to insulate windows and vents, and try to keep the kids from meandering in the doorway.
2 – Replace Light Bulbs
One of the easiest ways to cut down on your energy bill is by switching to energy-efficiency lighting. Even replacing just five of your most-used light fixtures with energy-saving bulbs can save you $75 a year.
Plus, these lights last significantly longer. Which means less morning routine annoyances when the bathroom light goes out for the 5th time this year.
While LED, CFL, and halogen incandescent bulbs can be slightly more expensive than traditional light bulbs, they are cheaper over the life of the bulb. And if you check EnergyStar.gov, you may be able to find refunds available in your area for making this green change!
Related Post: 7 Ways We Keep a Green Home for Less
3 – Don’t Overstuff Your Dryer
When you overfill your dryer, there isn’t enough room for the hot air to circulate. Your clothes dry much slower without proper airflow, and the increased drying time makes your energy bill go up.
Keep the dryer around half full and consider dryer balls over dryer sheets. The film on dryer sheets can reduce the efficiency of your dryer over time. While dryer balls last over 1,000 loads and can speed your drying time by 25% or more. Cheaper all around!
4 – Turn Off the Lights
Everyone knows turning off the lights saves you money. But kids don’t think about flipping off the switch when they leave the room, and husbands aren’t usually much better. How do you get your family involved to help keep your energy bill low?
To get kids to pitch in, visual reminders are a good place to start. Putting stickers on the light switches can help kids remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room. Stickers, or even sticky notes, aren’t likely to motivate your husband, though. Unless you tape last month’s bill to the switch.
5 – Run Appliances at Night
It may shock you to know that electricity doesn’t always cost the same. For instance, Pacific Power charges six cents more per kilowatt-hour during peak energy use times. Avoiding heavy energy use during these periods of “high demand” goes a long way to cutting your energy bill.
Switch to running your dishwasher, washer and dryer at night, and you could save hundreds of dollars every year.
6 – Switch Fan Direction
Ceiling fans are a simple way to save money in the winter months. If you switch the direction your fan blades rotate, it creates an airflow to better distribute the heat and cuts down your energy use.
In the summer, setting your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise helps to cool the room through a wind chill effect. In the winter, it’s important to switch direction so your fan blades rotate clockwise. The gentle updraft from the fan will force the warmer air near the ceiling down into the room.
The best part is this has a two-part advantage: it saves energy and makes the room more comfortable with an even flow of temperature.
7 – Flush Your Hot Water Heater
The minerals and sediment in your water can build up inside your water heater tank. Flushing it once or twice a year is an excellent way to clean it out. This also saves energy by allowing the water heater to run more efficiently.
Some newer models have a self-cleaning option, but doing it manually is easy to do in about 15 minutes.
8 – Invest in Smart Power Strips
It’s about as scary as it sounds. “Phantom” electricity is the power your electronics use even when turned off. Usually, there is a small amount of power to keep your lights, TVs, and coffee pot in a standby mode. And that power can add up.
9 – Use Your Dishwasher More Efficiently
Dishwashers are powerhouses these days. I love that I can fill my machine with dirty pasta plates and peanut butter knives and our dishwasher scrubs them clean.
And luckily, running a full dishwasher, especially at night, saves the most money.
Efficient dishwashers don’t need you to pre-rinse dishes. Which combined with the lower water usage of the machine versus handwashing, you’ll use about one-quarter of the water.
Plus, you’ll use less energy running your dishwasher once when it’s full instead of running two half-loads.
Want to cut costs further? Consider letting your dishes air dry. If your dishwasher doesn’t have an air-dry option, prop the door open to let the air dry the dishes after the final rinse.
10 – Buy a Humidifier
Humidity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when searching for ways to lower your energy bill. And by the time winter rolls around, most people have had enough of the high summer humidity and are ready to embrace the dry air.
Until you wake up with a scratchy throat and chapped lips.
Luckily, adding a humidifier to your home can help you feel better and save you money on heating costs.
Slightly humid air holds more heat, meaning your furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your house warm. And using less energy means a lower utility bill at the end of the month.
11 – Change Your Air Filter
Imagine sucking air through a straw. Then, place a piece of tissue over the end and try the same thing. You can do it, but it’s a heck of a lot harder, right?
That’s how your HVAC system feels with a dirty filter.
Your heating and cooling system likely needs a new filter every three months. The filters are easy to swap out and a new air filter can do wonders to lower your bill. Dirty filters slow down air flow and your furnace or air conditioner work that much harder. Like sucking air through a blocked straw.
Not to mention, keeping a clean air filter will prolong the life of your HVAC system. Which will save you cash on maintenance and replacement costs.
12 – Stick to Showers
But opting for shorter showers can save you money.
If you replace one shower head with an EPA-approved WaterSense model, it can save you more than $70 every year.
To maximize your savings, shut off the water while you’re soaping up, shampooing or shaving. You’ll use – and heat – less water. Reducing your water and electricity bills.
And if you’re thinking that bath sounds way more fun, who says you can’t have a glass of wine in the shower?
Save Money By Cutting Energy Waste
Luckily, you don’t need to get fancy to save money on your energy bill. Taking small steps to reduce the places in your home where energy is currently leaking out, reducing water usage, and doing a little maintenance can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.
Dollars that could go towards a vacation someplace sandy and warm.
What steps do you take to reduce your winter utility bills? Drop a note and share in the comments!