3 ways to save on energy bills

Of course, you want your home to be warm and cozy during the winter months and cool and comfortable during the dog days of summer. 

But you also want to keep your energy bills under control. Energy-smart day-to-day living is easier than you might think. 

Here are three easy ways to save on energy bills year-round.

1   How to Save on Heating and Cooling Costs

If your home's heating or cooling unit is more than 15 years old, you might want to replace it with one of today's energy-efficient models to save on energy bills.

The newer models, which are better insulated and have motors that require less maintenance, pay for themselves in energy savings, frequently in as little as three to five years.

If you're not ready to make such a large purchase right now, you can wrap insulation around heating ducts.

First, check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near the seams.

A streak indicates an air leak, which needs to be sealed with metal-backed duct tape before you adding the insulating jacket.

If the furnace ductwork appears to have been insulated and you think it might contain asbestos, make sure you have a professional test it before you begin.

If asbestos is present, have it wrapped with duct-pipe insulation to protect you and your family. 

A sure way to save on winter heating bills is to open the drapes during the day, let the sun shine in, and draw them at night to keep the heat from radiating out.

Set the thermostat at 68 degrees F (20 degrees C) or lower during the day, and set it at 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) at night or when you're away. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you'll save 3 to 5 percent on your monthly heating bill. 

Also, consider installing a thermostat with a built-in timer. While you can easily adjust your thermostat yourself to comfortable temperatures, it's more efficient to have a programmable thermostat that does it for you automatically.

To keep your home cool in summer, draw the drapes and close the windows to keep hot air and the sun's burning rays out. Set the thermostat at 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) or higher when you're at home.

Don't place the air-conditioning thermostat near lamps, appliances, or in direct sunlight. The thermostat sensed heat in these areas could cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

2   Lighten Up to Save on Energy Bills

Since energy for lighting accounts for some 10 percent of your electric bill, you can save by lightening up on your wattage.

Energy efficent light bulb and coins.If you're using 100-watt bulbs where 60-watt bulbs would do, consider replacing them.

If you're using 100-watt bulbs where 60-watt bulbs would do, consider replacing them. Or switch to fluorescent bulbs that screw into standard sockets.

Lighten up on your interior decorating, too: Pale colors for walls, draperies, rugs, and upholstery reflect light and can reduce the number of lamps needed to light a room adequately.

Outdoors, replace incandescent lighting with high-pressure sodium or outdoor fluorescent bulbs for additional savings. Or try solar-powered pathway lamps (with batteries that store photovoltaic energy for nighttime use) or high-efficiency sodium lamps for security lighting.

3   Cooking Up Kitchen Energy Savings

It's easy to save on energy bills in the kitchen. Here's how:

  • If you keep range-top burners and reflectors clean, they'll better reflect the heat and require less energy for cooking
  • If you cook with electricity, turn off the burners several minutes before the end of the allotted cooking time. The burners will stay hot long enough to finish the job without using any more electricity
  • When you have a choice between using the range top and the oven, go with the former to save energy
  • If you do use the oven, open it sparingly; each time you open it, heat escapes, and the oven will use even more energy to maintain the cooking temperature
  • Use a pressure cooker and a microwave oven whenever possible; both save energy
  • When you're boiling water, keep a lid on the pot; water boils faster when you use a top to hold in the heat

Save on Energy Bills Doing Laundry

Try these simple changes to save on energy bills while doing laundry. 

  • Keep your water heater set at 120 degrees F. Every 10-degree reduction in temperature will cut the cost of washing clothes by up to 1 percent
  • Really dirty duds? Use the presoak or soak cycle. You'll avoid two washings and save energy
  • Don't use too much detergent. Over-sudsing causes your machine to work harder
  • Don't overwash clothes. Delicate clothes don't need as long a wash cycle as dirty play clothes.

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