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Blog Mar 30, 2012

How to Save Money On Utilities

Energy Saving
for saving money on utility

In today’s economy, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their monthly utility costs and put some money back into their pockets. For those searching for cheap electricity, Houston and a number of other Texas cities have the advantage of location and the deregulation of utilities within the state. The latter has raised the level of competition in the market, lowering utility prices and raising customer expectations.

While this particular method of slashing utility costs may be limited to Texas’ deregulated market, there exists other means of lowering monthly utility costs no matter where you live. By taking a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way learning how to save money on utilities and learn to reducing your expenses and improving the overall energy efficiency of your home as well.

Here are 10 ways How to Save Money On Utilities

Take a closer look at your equipment:

Have an HVAC inspection.

Hiring a certified technician to check your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system is a smart move that can save money in the long run. The process involves checking airflow, checking filters, and improving the overall efficiency of the system by treating any other components that may need to be addressed. Though it comes as a cost, the expense of hiring an inspector is offset by the amount you will save on your monthly utility costs. The simple act of fixing leaking ducts alone can save you up to twenty percent. Inspections are also advantageous because they are able to catch problems that can go undetected and end up costing a larger sum down the road.

Save Money by Choosing the right power.

Energy Star is an EPA program that uses energy efficiency to protect the environment while also aiding individuals and businesses in their efforts to save money. To help in these efforts, Energy Star has published guidelines for homeowners to follow that are meant to promote optimal conditions in the home and savings as well. As you go about determining what changes to make to save on utilities, consult the guidelines when deciding how powerful your heating or air conditioning unit needs to be. A unit that is too powerful will use more energy than you need, wasting your money. It will also be less effective at controlling humidity.

Clean it up.

Dirt and dust can reduce airflow and impede your air conditioner’s effectiveness. Over time, they gradually build up in the machine preventing normal circulation. This blockage forces the conditioner to work harder, which subsequently requires more energy and will contribute to a higher utility bill. To prevent this, keep a close eye on your air conditioning unit and clean it regularly. This is best done on a monthly basis. It’s also important to remember that along with debris, foreign objects like curtains or furniture that may be obstructing the air’s path as it circulates from the conditioner into rooms will also increase utility costs. Clear them away to ensure unobstructed airflow.

Mind the thermostat.

The heating and cooling that occur within homes constitute a major expense and add to the cost of monthly utilities. At the same time, making adjustments to the way we manipulate the temperature within our homes can enable considerable savings. According to Energy Star, programming your thermostat to run at higher temperatures while you’re at work can cut your utility bill by $180 each year. Another way to maximize the capabilities of your programmable thermostat are to have it manipulate the temperature while you sleep, either lowering or raising it a few degrees to guarantee easy savings. Running things a bit warmer at home during hot months or a bit cooler during the winter months will also aid in cutting the cost of utilities.

Invest in energy efficiency for your utilities.

Making the gradual switch to more efficient appliances is an easy way to save on utilities as the one-time change can have a lasting effect on your utility costs. Energy-efficient appliances are better able to optimize the power they are supplied in their tasks, ensuring that homeowners get exactly what they need from them while also doing so for less. Even better than that, energy-efficient appliances are in some cases cheaper upfront than their less efficient counterparts. When considering this switch, individuals should research the incentives available to them, as they may qualify for a tax credit or rebate just for buying appliances that are energy-efficient.

Find your energy wasters:

Look for leaks.

The effects of time and sometimes weather can gradually wear down the spaces around doors and windows, creating tiny leaks and allowing for the escape of air. These leaks contribute to the nearly 30% loss in heating and cooling energy that the average home experiences and also play a role in the amount spent on utilities. Luckily, these small openings can be sealed with the help of caulking and weatherstripping, reducing as much as twenty percent of your monthly utility costs. To locate leaks, find the drafty spots in your home and light incense around them. As you walk around, hold the incense up to doors and windows and see if the smoke moves. If it is drawn outwards, mark the spot. From there, you can begin the process of sealing.

Change your bulbs.

As your bulbs flicker their last, take the opportunity to replace them with energy-efficient bulbs. Much like energy-efficient appliances, energy efficient bulbs are able to produce the same desired light as incandescents but they come with a number of other benefits. The most efficient bulb on the market is the LED bulb and in comparison to an incandescent bulb, this light can last up to 50 times as long. Even more impressive than that, LEDs convert 80-90% of their energy into light whereas non-efficient bulbs can only convert around 20%. The other 80% of the energy from these bulbs is emitted at heat which raises the temperature within homes as well. Switching out just a few of the most commonly used lights with energy-efficient bulbs should have an effect and one that can be built on as you go about replacing the rest of the bulbs.

Learn to love the nightlife.

Many of the appliances we use regularly like the dishwasher and dryer produce a considerable amount of heat as they work. When used during the day while having the house cool down, appliances force your air conditioner to work harder. By doing your chores at night, you’ll be able to stop this unnecessary expense and reduce your monthly utility costs. Beyond that, during the colder months you can use the heat generated by your appliances at night to supplement the use of your thermostat, helping you to once again minimize the cost of utilities.

Use your blinds.

Controlling the amount of light that enters a room can help keep it cool without incurring a high cost. To start saving, consider insulated window treatments for your home to help with your utility expenses. These coverings come in a number of varieties and their benefits are multi-faceted. A considerable amount of energy is lost through the windows and these treatments help to not only block out unwanted heat from entering the home, they also help to keep the desired cool air within the home. During the colder months, opening up windows to allow the sun’s rays to increase the temperature and closing them as the sun starts to set will help to keep your home warm naturally, saving you money.  

Enjoy the breeze.

Though it may be an old-fashioned method of managing the heat, using the breeze to your advantage works. Open windows throughout your home to allow the natural breeze to cool things off. This works particularly well as a strategy for beating the heat at night when the temperature starts to dip. Another way to keep things from getting too warm is your ceiling fan. This will cool down your rooms while using considerably less energy than the air conditioner. Remember, fans do not change the temperature of a room, they merely circulate cool air. So unless someone is within them to receive the benefit of their use, don’t turn them on and always be sure to turn them off when you leave.

Not using it? Unplug it!

Microwaves, cell phones, laptop chargers, and other small appliances can generate heat and use energy when not in use. This electricity consumption is known as vampire energy and utility costs Americans roughly $19 billion each year. For individual households, this expense can total to several hundred dollars each year. As you plug in your devices to be operated or charged, use a power strip to connect all of them to the same source of energy. When you are done using it, turn it off and it will cut the power of all the electronics. This simple act will allow you to see a five to ten percent drop in monthly utility costs.

Consider the source:

Know your options.

how to save money on utilities

Especially in places like Houston, utilities can vary widely in cost from company to company. Do your research and learn the average monthly cost of utilities before you decide on a provider. There are a number of resources that will list out the various rates and plans offered by companies in your area and you can always get in contact with service providers by calling them. Having an understanding of your current plan and the amount you pay will also go a long way, as it can help you to better understand the kind of plan you’re looking for in addition to the offerings that would help you keep your utility expenses low.

Ask about available plans.

Time of use plans, fixed rate plans, and prepaid electricity are all options that companies sometimes offer to help reduce your utility costs. Ask questions, in order to make an educated decision and be careful with your research. Taking your time and getting a good understanding for what is out there will ensure you the best possible plan for your utility use and your utility bill.

What are you doing to save money on utilities?

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