Saving money on your utility bills doesn't have to mean wearing your winter coat inside, forking over the money for a new heating or cooling unit - or convincing your landlord to replace it. There are lots of inexpensive ways to keep costs down in your home, so you can comfortably wear your pajamas. Read on for some top ways to save on utilities.
1. Perform an energy audit
An energy audit is an inspection of your home for ways to shrink your utility bills, normally by eliminating unnecessary usage. For instance, if you see a space above your outside doors, you can assume that, in the winter, cold air from outside is entering, and hot air is escaping.
A simple energy audit you could perform yourself includes looking for air leaks (open space around doors or windows), checking insulation levels, tallying light bulb wattages and checking and changing filters in your heating and cooling units. You can also hire a professional energy auditor, or if you are a renter, ask your apartment manager (or landlord) to send a maintenance team member to perform an audit. Also, consider calling your utility company, which often employs an energy auditor who will come to your home for free.
2. Install a digital thermostat
Heating your home is expensive, so there's no reason to pay for your heat when you're not at home. Purchase a digital thermostat from a home improvement store for less than $100. Then, program your thermostat to increase the temperature in your home half an hour before you arrive from work.
How much can you save? According to the Department of Energy, you can save 10-15% of your heating (and cooling bill) on an annual basis by reducing the temperature in your home by 10-15% for eight hours a day. This is approximately a temperature reduction of 70 degrees to 60 degrees while you're gone during the day.
Save even more money by reducing the temperature while you sleep under a heavy comforter or thick blanket at night. You can program the thermostat for a nighttime temperature that will return to the daytime temperature before your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning.
Although programming a thermostat can save you money, remember not to reduce the temperature too much while you're gone, especially if you have family or indoor pets at home during the day. If you are a renter, ask your landlord or apartment manager for permission before installing anything in your home.
3. Caulking and weatherstripping windows and doors
Caulking and weatherstripping is the easiest and cheapest ways to reduce energy bills. This is because you are letting outside air directly into your home through cracks around doors and windows, causing your heating or cooling unit to work harder to keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
Air sealing a home can reduce heating and cooling costs by 20% according to statistics from the Alliance to Save Energy.
4. Improve insulation in attics and exterior walls
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, adding extra insulation in your attic and exterior walls can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 30%. Insulation can be bought relatively cheaply. Virtually any home's attic can be insulated for a few hundred dollars, or less if you do it yourself. Installing insulation in exterior walls is more complicated and should be done by a professional.
5. Ask your utility company about other pricing plans
If you are in an area of the country that allows you to choose a utility provider, that provider might offer various pricing plans. One plan might offer lower pricing if you agree to be a customer for six months to one year. This is because the company is afraid of losing your patronage to another service provider. Be careful when you sign this agreement because if you decide to cancel within the time frame, you might have to pay a cancellation fee.
6. Save money in other parts of your electric bill to make up for heating costs
The Department of Energy says about 10% of your electric bill comes from lighting your home. With a pad and pencil, note the wattage of each light bulb in your home. Each bulb you replace with a lower wattage bulb will save you money on your electric bill. For instance, if you switch one 60-watt light bulb to a 30-watt bulb, that lighting fixture will use half the electricity. And of course, you can save even more by turning off lights after you leave a room.
You can hang up your winter coat and be comfortable in your home while decreasing your utility bills. All you have to do is cut back on utility usage that doesn't have any benefit to you, such as letting heat escape through air leaks and leaving lights on in empty rooms. Your pajamas will thank you for it.