The past few weeks have been brutal and some of you now are receiving utility bills for that same period and that are very high. Unfortunately, the cost of energy is going to continue to rise and the forecast is for continued colder than normal weather. It seems our energy bills will grow every month. Not only is the cost of electricity and natural gas constantly rising, but our homes and appliances are aging, forcing us to consume more of it. If your wallet is stretched thin with the high cost of energy service, there are a few steps you can take to lower your bills and reduce your overall consumption of energy inside your home.
Now is the perfect time to take action and start saving money on energy costs by making a few simple upgrades to your home. After completing these upgrades, you should see a significant decrease in your electricity and/or gas bill.
Step one in becoming more energy efficient is swapping out your traditional light bulbs for new compact fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. In addition, fluorescent light bulbs can last up to 10 times longer than regular light bulbs. Worrying about a light burning out can be a thing of the past and you'll have a little extra money in your pocket.
Step two to reduce energy costs is to make sure your HVAC unit is running as efficiently as possible. If you have had your furnace and air conditioner replaced within the past five years then it should be should be fairly energy efficient. In order to maintain its ability to heat and cool with ease, you must take care to perform regular upkeep. This maintenance includes annual inspections by a licensed HVAC service technician. An inspection should be done in the fall before the cold of winter sets in. That way, your furnace will be good to go and ensure you don't get stuck without heat in the middle of a cold snap. During the year, take care to change the air filter on a regular basis. Under normal conditions, a furnace filter should be changed once a month. This allows air to flow easily throughout the system, which helps keep the unit operating efficiently. A clogged filter will result in an HVAC system running harder for longer, which can cause your energy bills to skyrocket.
Step three in controlling energy cost is to replace your heating and cooling system if it is older than 10 years of age. Furnaces ten years ago were typically less than 80% efficient and most of the air conditioners and heat pumps were less than 12 SEER. This is a measure of equipment energy efficiency over the cooling season. It represents the total cooling of a central air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the normal cooling season as compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period. The standard now is a minimum of 13 SEER with some as high as 30+ SEER.
Step Four is to turn your thermostat down a degree or two in the winter months, and up a degree or two in the summer. Just that one or two degrees difference can result in hundreds of dollars of savings per year. If you have a wood fireplace, use it to generate heat in the winter. Doing this will greatly reduce your energy costs. Furthermore, the usage of fans in the summer will give your home a nice breeze so you don't have to constantly run the air conditioner.
Step five would be to check your water heater's thermostat. If you can, turn down the temperature a degree or two there. Doing this will save a significant amount of energy. Heating the water to around 120 degrees should be plenty hot for normal everyday use.
These small steps can save you big bucks in energy costs. You'll be saving money on your monthly bills and reducing the amount of energy you consume. It's a win-win!