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13 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bills
Energy consumption is a huge monthly expense that we feel we have to deal with. The thing is we all have a choice to do things to reduce our energy consumption to save money and the planet at the same time. If you have noticed that your energy bills are considerably higher than usual, it’s quite simple to do something about it. Whether it’s your heating, your water or your electricity bill, here are some effective ways to reduce your energy bills and save money every month.
Choke Your Chimney
We all love having a fireplace; it makes your home feel cozy and welcoming. However, according to the Department of Energy, your lit fireplace sucks up around 24,000 cubic feet of heated air up your chimney every hour. This air is replaced by cold air, which means that the furnace has to work harder to keep your home at a warm temperature. There are some ways that you can avoid this happening – turn the thermostat down when your fire is on, open a window in the room where the fireplace is and close the door (to prevent it taking warm air from the rest of the house) and close the damper when you’re not using it.
Seal Air Leaks
Take a walk around your home and you’ll probably see a few cracks and gaps around your windows and doors, as well as near your plumbing and wiring. All the cracks, holes and gaps will make your heating work harder, so sealing them has a profound effect on your energy bills. You can buy the materials from your local hardware store and you should see that your bills reduce in about six months time. Don’t forget places you would usually overlook, like exterior wall sockets.
Service Your Heat Sources
Loose fan belts, flickering pilot lights and a build-up of soot can make your heating system work ineffectively, which adds hundreds to your bills each year. Having a contractor service your system regularly may cost initially, but your system will work better and your bills should reduce. Systems which are powered by natural gas should be serviced every two-three years, whilst oil-based systems should be serviced every year.
Replace appliances with Energy Star Approved Appliances
If your old fridge or dishwasher is coming to the end of its lifespan, try to replace it with an Energy Star approved appliance. It is estimated that around 20% of our energy bill is spent on appliances, so gradually replacing old appliances with newer, more energy efficient ones can save money in the long run. Energy Star fridges use half as much energy as older models, so the investment is really worthwhile if your old fridge is on its way out.
Insulate Your Attic
Adding insulation to your attic is a well-known way of reducing heating costs. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that it reduces your heating and cooling needs by as much as 30%, especially if your home is over 25 years old. Insulation doesn’t have to just be in the attic either; you can add it to ceilings and basement walls. This is a longer-term solution, but it does pay off.
Try a Pellet Stove
Heating your home with oil or gas isn’t going to get any cheaper any time soon, so you may consider turning your attention to an alternative solution: pellets. Pellet stoves can reduce your heating costs, as they use small pellets made of sawdust. The pellets are automatically fed into a burn chamber and the fan blows hot air into your home. You could consider a full sized pellet stove or even just a fireplace insert.
Switch Your Water Heater
It is estimated that heating water counts for around 11% of energy bills, but this could be higher if your water heating system is more than ten years old. There are several solutions to an old, energy-guzzling water heater; you could look into an electric storage, or a [amazon_textlink asin=’B077ZYR9KS’ text=’tankless unit’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’moneymindedmo-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0570c7ca-56fa-11e8-9f1b-abeecc17ef54′]. There are also solar water heaters – a considerable investment, but they have a longer lifespan than average water heaters and you’ll see the cost back in your pocket within a few years. For a cheaper solution, try a water heater blanket.
Windows are one of the biggest causes of heat loss in your home. Installing new windows can cost a lot of money, so a cheaper solution is storm windows. They cost around $100 each and they can reduce heat loss through your windows by around 25%.
Look After Your Vents
If you live in an area where you use a lot of air conditioning, go around your home and ensure that all your vents are open. There is a myth that closing vents will reduce your energy costs, but it can actually increase them as your heating/cooling system has to work harder to get your home to a comfortable temperature. You should also change the air filters in your vents regularly, to keep airflow at maximum efficiency.
Your heating and cooling systems can often struggle to keep your home at a consistent temperature. When it’s hot, the heat escapes through the ceiling or the higher floor of your home, and when it’s cold you want to do your best to keep the heat where it is. One way to do this is by controlling the airflow using fans. Fans move the air around, making it easier for your heating system to maintain a consistent temperature. If you have a ceiling fan, ensure that it is running in the right direction – counterclockwise when it’s hot to push the air up, clockwise when it is cold to keep the heat inside.
Your laundry is one of the easiest areas to reduce your energy bills. All you have to do is wash your clothes on a cold setting – cold settings also mean that you don’t have to separate your lights and darks, so it can be a time-saving exercise too. Try to air dry your clothes as much as possible, as machine driers use a lot of heat. If you do have to use a drier, try not to over-fill it, as the hot air won’t be able to dry the clothes efficiently. Aim to leave around 25% empty.
Use a Power Strip
A lot of the modern appliances and electronic products don’t actually use that much energy on their own, but collectively they can add up to quite a high consumption. The worst offenders are games consoles, desktop computers, TVs and electric kettles. Switching the items off when you’re not using them will significantly reduce your energy costs, and the easiest way to do this is to simply connect them all to a power strip, then you only have to switch the power strip off.
Switch to LEDs
LED bulbs can seem a lot more expensive than standard bulbs, but the costs are easily repaid. They have a much longer lifespan, which means you will hardly ever need to replace them. They also use less heat than standard bulbs – 95% of the energy in the bulb is converted to light, and only 5% is heat. Compare this to incandescent lights, where 95% is heat and only 5% is light. You also need less of them, as LED bulbs concentrate light in a certain direction rather than in several directions, wasting light where it isn’t necessary, such as the ceiling.
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Thank you, Leila, for this great article!! Leila Jones is a content writer for Light Supplier. She is a Public Relations graduate from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK.