In today's downward economy prices of everything are rising. The prices of gasoline and meat continue to go up and they are joined with the prices of electricity. Whether you are trying to cool your house in summer or heat it up during the winter, electricity bills can be utterly shocking in either season.
We all had out parents lecture us one time or another about turning off the lights when we left a room. I mostly ignored that through my college years as I lived in dorms, however now that I am out on my own, I am recalling all the power saving tips my parents lectured me about doing to prevent my power bill from eating all of my hard earned money. However, there is more to saving money on electricity than merely turning off lights.
- This first tip is obvious. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. If you have kids, this can be a difficult thing to do. They, like me, will never quite get the point until they pay their own power bill. Consider installing timers or motion sensors to heavily used rooms like the living room and kitchen. Perhaps not the bathroom though, you may find yourself in the dark while taking a bath or showering. These sensors will cause the lights to turn on and off at certain times, in the case of the timers, and only turn on when someone enters a room, as is the case with motion sensors.
- Utilize fluorescent lighting, though make sure it does not flicker unpleasantly before buying. Fluorescent light does save heaps on energy, but can cause headaches if it flickers. Try to use linear fluorescents and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These provide high quality and efficient lighting for households and last around five times longer than regular light bulbs. Though they are a bit more expensive, they save money through energy conservation and a longer lifespan.
- Instead of brightly lighting room, try placing lights strategically. In places where people read or spend long amounts of time. However in cases like my mother's, some people cannot stand dimly lit rooms. So this may not be a viable option for some.
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- Turn off the heat dry feature on your dishwasher if it has one. When the load finishes washing, just crack the door open a little bit and allow it to dry that way. The water will have heated the dishes enough that they will dry quickly when exposed to the air of your home.
- Always wait until you can fill your dishwasher before washing dishes. Anything less than a filled dishwasher is a waste of energy.
- If you use an electric cook top and stove, turn the burners off shortly before your food it done. I can personally attest for my electric cook top that it will keep heat for five minutes after being turned off. My oven keeps heat for a good 15 minutes after being shut off. Save some energy letting the already used energy work itself out.
- Always make sure desktop computers, televisions, and laptops are shut off when you are not using them. Make sure to turn off the monitor of computers as well. Make sure laptops are unplugged as well since plugs still use energy even if the items or off, but there will be more on that later.
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Refrigerators use more power than any other appliance. If you own an older refrigerator it may be time to consider an upgrade. The new models of refrigerators are much more energy efficient than their other brethren. Some even brag of using half the electricity of older models, so you may want to consider budgeting for a new model.
Fun fact, refrigerators that have more food in them run more efficiently. The science behind this is that the already chilled food helps chill the refrigerator itself.
Make sure the seal to your refrigerator is tight. A simple test for this is placing a dollar bill in the door of the refrigerator. If you can pull the dollar bill out after it is closed, your seal needs adjusting. A bad seal means your refrigerator is running inefficiently and leaking cold air into your home.
- To go the extra miles, unplug power strips before you go to bed or leave for the day. As I mentioned earlier, plug in items still draw power even if the item is off.
- Unplug your phone chargers.
- Unplug your gaming consoles, these can be especially power hungry when they are off.
- Turn off items that are in guest rooms like VCRs, TVs and alarm clocks. You can always plug them in when your guest return to stay for awhile.
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Heating and Air Conditioning
- Turn your heat/air off or down while you sleep or at work. If you are not in your house, it is a waste to have these things on. If you are the only one home, put on more clothes or open a window.
- Replace or clean air filters. This is the number one way for an air conditioner to stop working efficiently. Clogged filters impair performance and air flow as well as send unhealthy particles into your household air.
- In the winter and you find yourself having a sunny day, let that sun shine in. It will help heat your house. Consequently, to keep your house cool in the summer, keep the blinds closed.
- Consider a portable heater. Sometimes we don't need the whole house to be warm. If you spend all your day working in your home office, just heat that one room with a portable heater. These are also a viable option for apartments that often come with heating vents on the floor. These are the most useless forms of heating ever invented and will cause your energy bill to skyrocket.
- Have an entertainment room. I have found that being in a room with my boyfriend and having both our desktop computers running heats the room amazingly quickly. We have not yet had to turn the heat on in our room this year because our computers make our room so HOT!