Reducing Energy Costs
Reducing energy use around your is one way to gain a little more wiggle room in your budget.
The challenge for Day 26 of 31 Days to a Better Bank Balance is to choose one of these ideas and implement it today. While you’re at it, you may want to choose a few of the ideas that may take a little time to implement in the future.
Let’s start with the biggest money-eater when it comes to energy: heating and cooling costs.
- Stop energy leaks by caulking, using weatherstripping and spray foam, and installing gaskets around outlets (You can use this Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating to learn how to find hidden leaks.)
- If you have a fireplace, close the damper when it’s not in use
- Replace inefficient windows and doors
- Improve insulation
- Have ceiling fans blow down in the summer and up in the winter
- Keep your curtains closed during the day in the summer, and open during the day in the winter
- Use CFLs to keep your house cooler in the summer (regular bulbs put out a surprising amount of heat)
- Be sure your heating & cooling system is the right size for your house (neither too large nor too small) and leave the vast majority of vents open
- Install and use a programmable thermostat
- Set your thermostat to auto instead of on
- Lower the temperature of your thermostat in the winter & raise it in the summer
- Replace air filters monthly
Of course, taking aim at heating and cooling costs aren’t the only way you can reduce energy costs. Making a few changes to your daily habits can save you money as well. For example, you could:
- Turn off lights when you’re not using them
- Wash your clothes on cold instead of hot or warm
- Minimize the number of laundry loads you do
- Line dry your clothes (partially or completely)
- Lower the temperature on your water heater
- If your utility offers a time-of-use plan, sign up for it and make sure you meet the requirements
- Replace appliances with more energy-efficient models, either when they need to be replaced, or if they happen to be horrifically outdated. If you qualify, you may even be able to get a free appliance from the government.
- Keep your fridge & freezer pretty full
- Plant deciduous trees (for shade in the summer, and to let the sunlight in in the winter)
- Put a stake through “energy vampires” by unplugging them when you’re not using them. (Energy vampires are usually items that are connected to an outlet with a power strip or a big brick — they cause a phantom energy loss even when they’re not actively being used.)