How to lower your energy bill by making minor lifestyle adjustments

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 13:33

No matter what time of year it is, there's always something putting a strain on your energy bill. It can be heating during the winter or air conditioning in the summer. Whatever the reason, there are you can take small preventative measures to make sure your energy bill is as low as possible.

Larger-scale home improvements such as radiant heaters and solar panels can replace wasteful technologies. Smarter choices when it comes to the efficiency of a home are best made during the construction process where you can implement technologies such as floor heating in the place of baseboard fixtures.

If you're not planning to do any major overhauls on your home, there are simple modifications you can make to your lifestyle that will have benefits all year. By imposing your own standards for eco-friendly technology instead of focusing solely on the financial side you can do more than save money on those pricey summer and winter energy bills, but protect the planet as well.

1. Ensure heaters and air conditioners are working properly - While it's always a good idea to install energy-efficient models whenever you can, there are a few things you can watch out for to make sure these vital climate control technologies aren't working harder than they have to.

You should always check the filters on your air conditioners to make sure they aren't clogged with dust or other materials. If they are, they'll end up wasting more energy trying to reach the temperature on the thermostat. A dirty filter forces these devices to compensate for the warm or cool air not making it to the rooms, ultimately achieving their goal at a much higher cost.

It's also easy to forget if vents are open or closed on heaters and air conditioners. Make sure they're open all the way when you want to use them and closed when the equipment isn't in use.

2. Clean clothes the cheapest way - For larger families, it can seem like the washer and dryer are running nonstop. This can put a heavy burden on your energy bill, especially if you're not cleaning your clothes efficiently. Most of the energy used in a washer goes toward heating up the water.

You can save money over the year by washing clothes with cold water as often as you can. This won't cause the dyes to run on clothing and allows you to mix whites and darks, maximizing the size of the loads you can put in. You should always try to fit as much clothing per cycle as possible without overloading the machine.

This is especially true for dryers, which use a lot of energy no matter what you do. Try to keep at least a quarter of the dryer empty so the warm air has the proper space needed to dry clothes a first time. The cheapest alternative to using a dryer is hanging your clothes on a line or drying rack to air dry.

3. Power still flows, even when devices are off - Just because a gadget or appliance is turned off doesn't mean it's not still consuming electricity. As long as a device is plugged in, a low current is still running through it, slowly adding up on your monthly bills.

To stop this from happening, simply keep the technology you only use infrequently unplugged until you need it. For the appliances and devices that you use more often, a power strip can help regulate the current without the need for constant plugging in and out. The flick of a switch can guarantee your machines only consume energy when you want them to.

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