How to Lower Your Utility Bills

Your utility bills could reach epic proportions if you are not careful to take measures to reduce fuel consumption. The cost of home heating has doubled what it was last year. Natural gas and propane rates are not far behind. There are some great ideas and simple solutions to cut back your energy needs, and lower your bills. A family could save money and still keep their home nice and cozy for the winter.

For home heating, you should have a programmable thermostat. Program it to the lower temperature when you leave the house in the morning and raise it just before you return. There should be a schedule for weekdays and one for weekends. If you install it and use it properly, it can save up to 5 to 15 percent off your annual heating bill. To conserve in the cold months, keep your thermostat at 68F, and lower it when you are in bed, or out of the house. By doing this, you cut your fuel consumption by as much as 1 percent, provided the setback period is eight hours long.

Use your ceiling fan properly to circulate air in your apartment. Heat usually rises, and cooler air settles near the floor. Set your fans to pull warm air down from the ceiling in the winter, and pull cool air up from the floors in summer. Most ceiling fans have a directional switch on the side of the motor body to change the direction of the fan. Adjust the fan to a slower setting to move the air. The slow setting will circulate the air just fine without creating a chill. Remember to wear cooler clothes in the warmer months, and warmer clothes in the cold months.

Winterizing your home can help in a big way. You could have a leaky house, with cracks around the windows or doors. To plug up cracks, apply silicone caulk to small cracks and polyurethane expandable spray to larger cracks. Weather-strip windows and doors. You can go to your home improvement store, or attend a how-to-class on better ways to winterize your home.

Reducing water consumption can be a big saver on your water heater. Lowering the water heater temperature to about 120F can save energy. If it is above 110 to 120 degrees, then it is just too hot. Some customers have installed a timer on their electric water heater. You can set the timer to heat up to five hours a day. You will see a drop on your electric bill. Dishwashers use a lot of water and electricity. Always fill your dishwasher completely before using it. Install a low-flow showerhead, which can also be found at your local home improvement store, and reduce water consumption up to 60 percent. Practice showering efficiently, to use the least amount of water. Using full loads when doing laundry can help also. Don’t use hot water unless it is needed. Most clothes will come clean when using cold water. Detergent is slow to dissolve in cold water. Put the detergent in the washing machine first, after you start the water, then put the clothes in to prevent soap spots on clothes. Be aware of how much time it takes to dry certain loads of clothes, and don’t set the timer for more time than is necessary. Clean the lint filter after every load for efficient drying. Fold clothes and hang them immediately upon taking them out of the dryer to prevent a lot of ironing.

There are several cooking tips to save energy when using a gas range. Use high heat until the pot starts to boil, or desired temperature is reached, then reduce heat for the remainder of the cooking time. Cooking meals on very low heat with the lid in place, will allow it to cook thoroughly. Getting to the boiling point is faster with a higher temperature, but takes much less to maintain the heat than to create it. Don’t use the oven to heat your house or apartment. A whistling teakettle is good to use, to let you know when the water is ready, to avoid boiling longer than necessary. Use a kitchen timer for a signal to turn off the oven, or for a signal that the food is ready.

Light up your house with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These fluorescent bulbs last up to 10 times as long as regular light bulbs and use about one quarter of the energy. You can get the (CFLs) with timers and three-way. Also they create more light, and cast a nice warm glow on your room.

Check online for free home audits, and cost-cutting tips. Many companies offer the audits as an online survey. You can check with your utility company for a level-pay plan. This allows the consumer to spread high winter heating bills over an equal monthly payment period throughout the year.

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