With the chilly winter months here in many parts of the country, its a perfect time to assess how to save money and stay warm. A good place to start is by running an energy audit to determine where you spend the most energy dollars. In the meantime, there also are other things you can do to get through the winter without siphoning your savings.
Turn Down The Heat
Even if you love feeling toasty in the winter, consider regulating your thermostat by dropping it a few degrees and wearing a sweater inside your home. Energy Star offers free advice and detailed instructions on how to manage the thermostat dials. Residents of a typical, single-family home properly following guidelines can expect to save $180 a year. Snuggle under those blankets, pull on those socks and start saving!
Service The Furnace
Change (or clean, if you can) your furnace filters ever 2-3 months. Dirty filters hinder air flow and force the system to work harder and waste energy to keep you warm. Clear filters also keep dust and dirt from building up throughout the system, which lessens the possibility and frequency of expensive maintenance and breakdown.
Put The Dishes Down
The less water you use in washing dishes, the less energy you use heating the water. Installing an energy-efficient dishwasher can help lower your utility bills $40 a year. And you will also save up to 5,000 of gallons a year and nearly 10 days of work from washing dishes by hand. The dishwashers water temperature boost, which also reduces soap residue, helps improve disinfection as well.
A few other tips to save water and heat: Scrape and compost the waste from dishes before putting them in the washer. Dont run the washer until its fully loaded. Bypass the steam cycle (if you have one) and skip the drying cycle altogether by opening the washer door.
Check the Lint Trap
You probably can be more efficient at washing and drying your clothes, too. Typically avoid using the hot setting on the washer. Cold water usually gets the job done. And be sure to clean the lint trap in your dryer after every use. Blocked lint traps — in addition to being a fire hazard — wont be able to move hot air sufficiently through clothes. Theyll take longer to dry, which takes more money from your bank account. Its the same process as with the furnace.
Go With The (Low) Flow
Keeping with the aquatic theme: Installing a low-flow showerhead (costing $10-$20) that uses less water also will use less energy to heat it. Insulating your hot water tank, and setting the thermostat two degrees lower will also help your energy bills.
Clean Out The Fridge
Were not talking about cleaning the inside (do that too!) but instead the condenser coils on the outside. By frequently cleaning the coils to keep them clear of dust and dirt, the refrigerator doesnt have to work as hard. Not only could it save you $10 a month in energy bills, but it likely will put off much costlier repairs down the line.
Window to Your Wallet
Did you know heat loss through windows is responsible for up to 30 percent of residential energy use? If youre not in a financial position to replace your windows with energy efficient double-panes, at least ensure fewer holes for warm air to escape. Caulk will help reduce uncomfortable (and expensive) drafts. Covering windows with drapes and curtains helps too, as does opening them up on the sunny side of your house during the way in order to heat your house naturally. Use the sun to your advantage.
How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take to Screw With Your Finances?
Money-saving options such as halogen incandescent, CFL and LED light bulbs have become commonplace since new federal lighting standards took effect in 2012. If you still have traditional incandescent bulbs and fixtures, youre wasting money. Changing out your home’s five most-frequently used fixtures or bulbs can save $45 a year.
Try Not to Suck
They call it vampire energy because it sucks your wallet dry. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found vampire energy accounts for 5 percent of all residential electricity use — which adds up to $7 billion a year. It might seem like a drag, but unplugging home electronics while youre not using them will save you significant money. Another option: Purchase a bunch of power strips and use them exclusively.
Have A Holly, Jolly Savings
Heres something you might not have considered: Invest in updated holiday lighting. Seriously. Switching your Christmas lights to the LED format will save you money just like it does for your everyday lights. LEDs are not just for lamps. Santa does it!