5 Ways to Save Money on Utilities

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Saving Money & Saving Energy

After living at home for 18 years, listening to my dad yell at me for turning the thermostat up one degree, I couldn’t wait to move into my own place. No more nights spent tossing and turning because it was too hot to sleep. No more lectures about turning my ceiling fan off when I left for school or about falling asleep with the TV on. I was a free woman. That was… until I got my first set of utility bills. Yikes! Suddenly it all made sense. My dad was right; and believe me, it pains me to say that. Now, I’ve been living on my own for going on six years and I’ve found that with a few simple steps, you can easily decrease those utility bills (with minimal effort) and save the environment while you’re at it. Not bad.

Make the Switch. By making a few minor adjustments with everyday items in your house, you can save significant money on your utility bills. For example, when you switch to fluorescent light bulbs, you will use 65 to 75 percent less energy than if you stuck with those money-guzzling incandescent bulbs. Plus, you’re still providing the same amount of illumination. What’s more? Fluorescent light bulbs also last about 10 times longer (7,000 to 24,000 hours) than their incandescent counterparts. And just like dad said, make sure you turn out the lights in any rooms that are not being used. Another switch to make: installing a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperature according to your schedule.  No need for the air to be running constantly while nobody’s home.

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Set the Temp. Keeping your equipment set at the right temperature will save you big bucks down the line. Standard temperatures for summer are around 78ºF degrees; and 68ºF degrees for winter. If you feel like 78ºF is too hot in the summer, try using your ceiling fan to create a wind chill effect, allowing you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. While you’re at it, keep your water heater set at 120ºF degrees. Reducing your water temperature to 120ºF slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes, which helps your water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency.

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Unplug. Did you know that many appliances such as DVD players, TVs, stereos, computers and kitchen appliances continue to use small amounts of power even when they are switched off? In fact, 75 percent of the electricity in the average home is consumed while the products are turned off, according to Energy Star. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance when it’s not in use (think laptops and coffee pots) or using a power strip to switch into the off mode when you’re finished using the appliances.

Take this a step further by turning off your computer and monitor when you’re finished. Bonus points if you never sit at your desk with your laptop plugged in unless it has no battery left. This will save not only your electricity bills, but also the lifespan of your laptop’s battery. For more info about laptop batteries, click here. And always be sure to unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or when the chargers are not in use.

Cut back. Are you one of those people that does several loads of laundry every week with just a few items in each load? I have a friend who does the laundry everyday!  That’s no way to save! By reducing the number of laundry loads you do in a given month, you can significantly reduce your hot water usage. Same goes for that darned dishwasher. Always wait to do your laundry or run the dishwasher until you have a large, full load. You can also significantly reduce hot water use by simply repairing leaks in faucets, showerheads or pipes. For maximum water efficiency, select a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm.

Clean up. It may sound crazy, but the dirtier the area behind your fridge, inside your dryer’s lint catcher and around your AC’s coils, the more energy it takes for them to do their job. Make sure you clean coils at least twice a year, straightening them out while you’re at it. And if you feel like the dryer is taking forever to get your clothes nice and warm, double check to make sure the lint catcher is empty. Sometimes even a few times during one cycle. You won’t believe how much faster things dry. Also, be sure to clean your air filters once a year and check to make sure your home’s insulation isn’t pulling away in any spots.

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For more money-saving tips and tools, including a Credit Personal Trainer to help you whip your credit into shape so you can save money on all of life’s biggest purchases, visit Quizzle.com. And check out these other great, money-saving articles: