Trying to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter can be a challenge for the pocketbook, as heating and air-conditioning costs account for the majority of the average electricity bill. As energy prices continue to rise, it is up to the responsible home-dweller to do what it takes to make a house more energy-efficient, providing some much-needed relief from high electricity bills. Read on for several ways to save money on your next bill.
Make it Green
Planting trees and shrubbery around your home does more than just make it look nice. The proper type of greenery can shade your home in summer, preventing the sun from shining full-force on your roof and windows, which can cause your A/C to work overtime to keep the house cool. Shading the outdoor air conditioning unit is also helpful to prevent it from being overworked, which can not only drive your electricity bills up, but lead to more maintenance on the unit itself. In the winter, proper landscaping can protect your home from cold winds and provide extra insulation around your foundation.
Treat Your Windows and Doors
There are multiple options when it comes to window treatments that will make an impact on energy costs. Try any of the following to see how they can affect your bill:
- Curtains, blinds, outdoor awnings, solar screens, or window film can help keep the sun out during those hot summer days.
- In the winter, heavy draperies and window treatments will keep warm air in and cold air outside where it belongs.
- Replace your windows if you don’t want to sacrifice the sunlight in order to regulate the temperature in your home. Many window types have been designed specifically to keep the heat where it needs to be while still letting the light in, giving you a great benefit without increasing your electricity bills.
- Doors and windows are not airtight, but caulk is an inexpensive and simple solution to address air seepage. Use caulk on the cracks around doors and windows and update the weather stripping if it is beginning to show signs of wear.
Watch the Thermostat
Try setting your heat and A/C either higher or lower than you normally would to see if you still feel comfortable. This simple step can reduce your heating and cooling costs significantly, effectively lowering your electricity bills. If you spend a large part of your day away from home, purchase a thermostat that can be programmed to adjust the temperature on a timer. Rather than remembering to change the thermostat each time you leave and enter the house, this energy-efficient solution is set to raise or lower the temperature according to your instructions. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easily worth the savings you gain by keeping temperatures at the desired level throughout the day.
Maintain Your Furnace and A/C
Keeping your furnace and A/C well-maintained is a simple way to increase your savings. Dirty air filters, inefficient fan speeds, and worn components will all contribute to higher electricity bills. Air filters are inexpensive and should be replaced or cleaned at least once every thirty days. Learn to recognize when your air filter needs maintenance and take care of it before it begins to affect your unit’s efficiency. Invest in a professional inspection once a year if you are not comfortable identifying potential problems with your furnace and A/C units. A knowledgeable repairman can reset your fan speed if needed and will be able to tell you if there is any issue compromising the efficiency of your unit. You may discover it is worth the cost to replace an old unit in need of frequent repair. Energy-efficient systems can dramatically cut your electricity bills and prevent costly repair charges.
Increase the Circulation
Fans are great at circulating air and improving the efficiency of heating and cooling your home. Be sure to have the fan going clockwise in the winter on low and counterclockwise in the summer on high or medium to maximize the benefits of this tip. Keeping doors and vents open can also help keep the air circulating in every room and will keep the temperature properly regulated throughout the house.
While addressing the heating and cooling issues to lower electricity bills, don’t forget to check out your appliances. Refrigerators and ovens have energy-efficient alternatives that can offer a lot in electricity savings. If you can, make use of the microwave instead of the oven, especially during summer months, as the oven uses far more electricity and can add significant heat to your home, forcing the air conditioner to work harder.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Each one of these tips can contribute to lowering electricity bills and making your home a more energy-efficient and comfortable place to live.