It seems as if everyone and their mother has written something on the internet that claims to help reduce your bills, save money, or cook/clean and brush your teeth all in one heavenly device. And you know what? I am sure that somewhere in the world a product as magical as this really does exist. Nine times out of ten, however, these items often come with a hefty price. A man once told me that in order to reduce my monthly bills I should invest in solar panels. (While this may work in the long run; solar panel are incredibly expensive for sub-par output.) I live in Ohio, where it’s sunny just about as many times as you have birthdays. Overall, solar panels are not a great investment when looking for short-term utility savings. Use these actionable steps provided and watch the savings flow right in by reducing your utility bills.
1. UNPLUG YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES!
You may or may not have heard of the terms “Standby Energy” or “Vampire Energy” (as I like to call it.) This nasty little phenomenon occurs when your electronic devices are turned off yet still suck energy from your outlets. Not such a good thing, right? Well think about this- studies show that “Vampire energy can account up to 7% of your total electrical consumption.” Some cases up to 10%; where I live that can be a savings of $140 every year by simply eliminating standby energy.
Pros: Annual savings, not too difficult to do, not very time consuming, literally no upfront cost to you.
Cons: Easy to forget about, some electronics my need to be plugged in for standby (such as t.v. and stereo),
Unplug those unused electronics that are of no use when not functioning and watch the electric bill lower and lower!
FYI- Green Power Surge Protectors will do the trick if you would like to have the best of both worlds. Check this guy out for your home theater system- typically it’ll run you about $49.99, but it works like a charm for reducing standby energy.
2. USE A LOW FLOW SHOWER HEAD
The CEC (California Energy Commission) conducted a study to measure the average use of water, in gallons, when taking a shower. Their results came up to a whopping 20 gallons per shower (which is about and average of a 4 minute shower). So with a little bit of basic math; each one of us uses around 7,280 gallons of water per year on showering alone! Here is the link for more information/studies on the matter.
If I told you that a low flow shower head could reduce 7,280 gallons per year by 50% -would you switch? I suppose it depends on the cost, correct? Well here’s some good news- it can cost you as low as under $10 on average. I recommend the Niagara Earth Massage 1.25GPM Low flow showerhead mainly because this is the shower head that I own and it works flawlessly. With the average water bill around $50.00 a month combined with the average shower water consumption of 17% of your bill, this change could save up to $102 a year!
Pros: Very cheap, easy to install, virtually no maintenance, instant savings.
Cons: Some up front cost, slightly less water pressure, takes some adjusting (for your head.)
I love this idea a great deal because of the shower heads effectiveness and ease of use. Simply purchase, install, and shower (in money.)
3. READ! SKIP T.V. FOR A NIGHT OR TWO
Use that library card of yours! Instead of watching t.v. for a night or two, make some tea, bunker down, and open your fresh, pristine, and newly favorite Twiligh…. ahem.. Sports Illustrated Magazine.
Pros: Free, literally thousands of books to choose from, very entertaining yet relaxing, can be social or independent.
Cons: Paper cuts?
You will be surprised at how just reading a few nights a week can make a difference on your power consumption. I know that along with my television (and many others), I have a stereo and a gaming system hooked up. These items consume more energy than you think. So go ahead and try it; what’s the worst that can happen?
4. WEATHER STRIP YOUR DOORS
This is no new nor cutting edge technology when it comes to saving energy. Air infiltration can be blamed for up to 40% of your home/apartments cooling and heating loss. Never underestimate the power of throwing a couple of weather strips under your doors. Whats the upfront cost you may ask? About $4.00 and that’s it. If you live in an apartment, you may only have one or two doors, however, you typically lose most your heating or cooling through those large venues. So give it a go and see what happens!
Pros: Cheap, efficient, non-time consuming.
Cons: Universal sizes don’t always fit (do your research!)
5. WASH COLD AND AIR DRY
So it’s that dreaded time of the week (or month if you’re me) to do the laundry. It’s time for you to pick up your laundry basket and carry it to your fancy washer and dryer (or take it to the laundry mat.) You carelessly throw any and all clothes in the washer, wait 30 minutes or so and then throw it all in the dryer. Well check out this convenient washer and dryer calculator- Figure out how much you spend per year on laundry. It’s more than you think! On average, I spent close to $130 a year; ridiculous for something that is not even a necessity. Simply replace drying your clothes by a machine with a good ol’ fashioned hang dry- inside or out! This very simple task is not only is free, but it takes about the same amount of time as waiting for your dryer to finish its drying cycle.
Pros: Free, reduces utility bill by almost 12%.
Cons: may not have much room to hang,(if hung outside) may be allergic to outdoor pollen.
6. USE A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
Before you say anything; yes I know this can be on the more expensive side of ways to reduce your utility bills. One of the most popular programmable thermostat is NEST, which sells for around $249.99. NEST is an incredible piece of technology, but you can have most of the same features for a fraction of the price. This guy sells for around $24.99 and works like a charm! The basic principle of this device is to turn off your heating or cooling when you no longer need to heat your home i.e., out for lunch, work, or vacation. While having a programmable thermostat you never need to worry about forgetting to turn the air off, or the heat down. It’s like having a personal assistant (that doesn’t know how to make you coffee either.)
Pros: Multiple benefits, low maintenance, HUGE savings.
Cons: Upfront cost, many options, install needed.
Do some more research on the subject. Setting up a programmable thermostat can save you anywhere from 9%-13% off your heating and cooling bill. Here is a .PDF by Honeywell to show some data.
I ended up saving $116 per year- why shouldn’t you?
7. TURN DOWN YOUR WATER HEATER TO 120 DEGREES
I assume (and hope) that nobody should ever need their water hot enough to cause 3rd degree burns. So walk over to your hot water heater and turn it down! 120 degrees seems to be the happy medium to keep your water hot enough, yet low enough to conserve substantial energy.
For every 10 degrees you turn down your hot water heater, you can save yourself around 3%-5% (Most manufactures set heaters to 140 degrees by default) on your heating bill. You could save 10%!
Pros: Free, no maintenance, very little time to set
Cons: Can be difficult to find on certain models
FYI- You might want to think about a heat shield wrap to place on your water heater. Keep in mind, however, that if your heater is a newer model you do not need to place a heat shield due to the already insulated outer shell.
8. REMEMBER TO TURN OFF YOUR LIGHTS!
Very simple. Very true. Although this idea is very self explanatory, you’d be surprised at how often we forget to turn off the lights in our homes. I find myself doing it quite often and always kick myself when I forget. How much you save is up to you, and only you.
This includes your t.v., stereo, computer, and ceiling fans! The more you conserve, the more you save.
I hope you enjoyed the information that not only helped myself save energy, but save me a ton of money in the process. Within a year, I had saved almost $475.00 Not too bad considering that all this cost me less than $25! So please comment, bounce ideas, and feel free to subscribe and support!