While you want to be comfortable in your home, it’s possible to achieve this goal while also saving money. Making small adjustments that you will barely notice can result in significant savings. Keep reading to discover ways to save money on your electricity and water bills.
Stop using your toilet as a wastebasket. “Every time you flush a facial tissue or other small bits of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted,” according to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
James also recommends that you refrain from using your garbage disposal so frequently. “In-sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly,” he explains. “Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste.”
If you wash your dishes by hand, stop leaving the water running when you’re rinsing them. “If you have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water,” James says. “If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a pan full of hot water.”
Your water heater accounts for 12% of your electric bill. If you have an older system, James says flushing sediments out of it will improve energy efficiency. However, if the water heater is 15-20 years old, he tells Freshome that replacing it will generate substantial savings. “Tankless ‘on-demand’ systems don’t store water, offering savings up to 30 percent; however, the latest hybrid heat pump systems offer even greater savings – reducing water heating costs up to a whopping 60 percent,” James explains.
Your ceiling fan can lower your energy costs during the summer. According to Richard Ciresi, owner of the Aire Serv of Louisville, KY, ceiling fans create a wind chill effect, allowing you to adjust thermostat settings by 4-7 degrees F (up to 30% savings!) and still remain comfortable. However, make sure that the fan is going in a counterclockwise motion during the summer, and turn it off when you leave the room, because fans cool people, not rooms.
Ciresi also recommends upgrading your lighting. “Lighting accounts for up to 12% of your energy budget, and those old school incandescents give off 90% of their energy as heat, taking a toll on your air conditioner.” He recommends replacing your lightbulbs with CFLs (use 75% less energy and last 10x longer) or LEDs (use 80% less and last 25x longer).
Leave your thermostat alone. You don’t need to cool an empty house. “This practice can actually increase your utility bills,” Ciresi warns. “We recommend, particularly during hot weather, that you set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature and leave it be.” Also, he says the constant temperature change isn’t beneficial to your art, musical instruments, or furnishings.
Observe your humidity levels. If they’re above 50%, Ciresi says you’ll feel warmer than the air temperature. “In most cases lower humidity allows you to be comfortable at slightly higher temperatures, often as much as 78 degrees,” he says. And if you can be comfortable at higher temps, you can save a lot in energy costs. “If your humidity is too high, check for a source like a leaking basement, roof, or plumbing fixture – you may need to a call an air conditioning professional to determine the cause and provide a solution.”
Changing the time you use large appliances can also help you save money. “Operate dishwashers, washers, and dryers only when full, preferable at night or when temperatures are cooler,” recommends Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance. “Also, remember that refrigerators/freezers use less energy when full and make sure to pack them accordingly.
Small appliances – microwaves, toasters, TVs, DVDs – are energy vampires that consume small amounts of energy even when they’re not in use. “Don’t let them drain your budget,” Rogers says. “Plug them into power strips so you can turn them off when you’re not using them.”
If your windows are not properly sealed, this can account for 20% of your home’s energy loss, according to Larry Patterson, franchisee of Glass Doctor in Dallas, TX. If your home was built before 2001, he says the most cost-efficient approach is to keep the window frame material and replace the existing clear glass insulated units with new low-emissivity (low-e) glass insulated units. “This can help save up to 35% on utility bills, while also leading to increased comfort near windows, reduced fading, and less noise.”