Budget Limbo: Lower Your Energy Costs

Budget Limbo: Saving Money on Energy | www.dizana.com

Last time we talked about saving money on phone service. This week I’m going to share tips to help lower your energy costs. Most of these tips are common sense, but periodically reviewing this list isn’t a bad idea to help you keep costs down; it’s easy to fall back into bad habits.

See if your electric company has a time-of-use program. I started participating in OG&E’s time-of-use program last summer. My highest electric bill was $100 less than my highest electric bill the previous summer and last summer was ridiculously hot. If you are on a time-of-use plan, pay attention to when you use electricity. Run the dishwasher or washing machine and pre-cool your home during the off-peak hours.

Monitor your usage. Use a Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor to figure out which devices are costing you the most to power. If you have a smart meter on your house, use the information from it to figure out where you can cut back. If you don’t have a smart meter, devices like this Energy Saver Series Power Monitor can provide you with the same information.

Stop the power-suckers a/k/a vampires. Whether you’re using a device or not, if it’s plugged in it’s usually pulling power. Either unplug them when not in use or strategically use surge protectors and power switches to cut the power to those devices. You can read more about vampires here.

Use low energy CFL or LED light bulbs. I noticed a decrease in my bill when I started using these low energy alternatives to regular incandescent bulbs. I know some people hate these bulbs, they can be slow to come on and some are dimmer than what you might be used to. They have improved a lot over the years. The only ones I have that I feel like are slow to warm up are the ones in my bathroom and at 5:30 in the morning, that’s just fine with me.

Wash clothes on cold; line dry clothes or dry loads of laundry together. I still wash towels and sheets on hot, but I try to wash everything else on cold. I’m lazy about line drying all of my clothes – I do line most of my dress clothes. Rather than line dry them, I dry my darks and lights together.

Figure out ways to automate energy-saving behavior. A programmable thermostatis one of the simplest automators out there. When I lived in an apartment I tried to make it a habit to adjust the thermostat before I’d leave for the day but I wouldn’t always remember. Other automators to consider are Motion Sensor Light SwitchesProgrammable SwitchesSmart Green Surge Protectors; and Energy-Saving Outlets.

Replace air filters on a monthly basis. Dirty filters hamper airflow and cause your system to be less efficient. This is especially important if you have pets or smokers in your home.

Don’t forget the hot water heater. There are a few things you can do to save energy while heating water. First of all, if your hot water is scalding hot, turn down the temperature on your tank. Second, flush your hot water tank annually for maximum efficiency. Third, if you have an older tank, insulate it with a Water Heater Blanket. Finally, consider investing in a tankless water heater.

Look for sources of escaping energy. This could be gaps that need to be filled around doors, windows, and outlets; insulation that needs to be added or leaky ductwork. One of my goals for this year is to add insulation to my attic. It probably needed it when I moved in eleven years ago and it definitely needs it now. I’ve read this is a simple DIY – anybody have experience with this?

If you’ve never implemented any of these tips, doing so can really help bring down your spending. What are your tips for keeping energy costs in check?

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