Cheap Ways to Save Energy and Lower Your Bills

Energy conservation is not just good for the environment. Taking steps to lower your energy usage will also bring down your monthly bills, especially if you have trouble paying for bills some months. Many of the changes commonly recommended can be expensive to implement, and state energy assistance programs have limited funds and household restrictions. Installing smart or even programmable thermostats typically requires both labor and parts. Dishwashers and refrigerators can be expensive to upgrade and replacing doors or windows can be pricey, too.

However, there are some cheap energy saving tips you can take to start lowering your bills. The sections below describe easy, low-cost changes you can make to your home that will bring down the cost of living in it. With some minor investments and a little bit of manpower you can save energy at home, helping both your wallet and the planet.

Minimize Vampire Energy Use with Smart Plugs

If you want to save energy, you may want to consider the devices you leave plugged in all day. Many devices left plugged into sockets will continue sucking small amounts of energy from the outlet even when they are not in use. This “vampire energy” usage can add up in a household. On average, most people spend more than $100 a year paying for phantom energy usage.

You can save energy at home by using smart plugs that automatically disconnect devices from sockets when they are shut off. Smart power strips are available for under $30 each. The best way to ensure you do not waste energy is to simply unplug devices when they are not in use. However, smart power strips can be useful when it is inconvenient to access the wall plug or difficult to unplug a device regularly.

Get an Insulation Blanket for Your Water Heater

A good energy conservation idea is to purchase a blanket or jacket for your hot water heater. Your water heater expends a lot of energy maintaining the water inside at a certain temperature, typically between 120 and 140 degrees. Whether it is inside or outside, the temperature around your water heater is going to be dozens of degrees cooler than the temperature inside it. As a result, a lot of heat may dissipate to the surrounding air. This forces the heater to work harder to keep the water inside at a consistent, elevated temperature.

However, a water heater jacket will insulate the tank. The warmth stays inside, which means your heater expends less energy trying to keep the water hot. For less than $40 you can get a jacket that helps you lower your electric bill by as much as 16 percent each year. As a final change to lower your electric bill, adjust the temperature on your water heater. Most are set at 140 degrees, but you can lower it safely to 120 without risking bacteria. At 120 degrees, your water will still be hot enough for your normal showers, especially if you use an insulating blanket or jacket.

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Did you know? You can use your LIHEAP benefits to improve the energy efficiency of your home, as well as to reduce your current utility bills.
Did you know? You can use your LIHEAP benefits to improve the energy efficiency of your home, as well as to reduce your current utility bills.
Caulk and Weather Strip Your Home to Seal Air Holes

Someone wondering how to save energy might benefit from surveying the windows, doors, wall A/C units and other potential air leaks in their home. These spots are often prime locations for leaks that make it difficult to maintain the temperature in your home. Locating potential air leaks and sealing them with masonry caulk will stop the flow of air.

Caulk fills in the gaps and then solidifies, serving as a complete seal wherever it is applied. Stopping unnecessary airflow can help lower your electric bill. Go through the exterior of your home, sealing any potential leaks with caulk properly. Look at joints, cracks, locations where different materials meet and the roof to catch any gaps. Once you have caulked everything thoroughly, you can weather strip your doors and windows to ensure the seal is solid.

Many energy assistance programs offer funds for late utility bills. However, many state programs also offer funds to help improve the energy efficiency of a home. This is especially helpful with homes that experience extreme temperatures that can make utility bills spike during these months.

Replace Your Air Filters Every Three Months

You may not give much thought to your air filter but swapping it out on time will save energy at home and help you breathe easier. Operating a clogged air filter can use up to 15 percent more energy than operating a clean one. Additionally, the dirt and dust caught in an air filter will begin recirculating if you do not change the filters often enough. Dirty filters can aggravate allergies and asthma. It can even cause coughing and difficulty breathing in some individuals. You should replace your air filters every three months to save energy and minimize the dust in your home. Filters are typically cheap and can be obtained in packs.

Air Dry Clothes and Dishes When Possible

Your clothes dryer uses a lot more energy than you realize. Because it has to both generate heat and run a motor at the same time, its usage adds up quickly. One easy way you can save energy at home and lengthen the life of your clothes is to air dry them whenever possible. Air drying your clothes uses no energy whatsoever, while running a dryer can cost more than $100 annually. Additionally, air drying can help you extend the life of the clothes because dryers break down fabrics over time. Clothes run through a dryer are more likely to shrink, pill and develop holes over time.

If you use a dishwasher, another great energy saving trick is to avoid using the heated air-dry option. The additional heat can help evaporate every last drop of moisture, but it is not necessary. Leaving it off can lower the amount of energy your dishwasher uses.

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