Monday, January 7, 2008

How to Save Money On Your Utilitiy Bills

With prices increasing constantly you can often feel like you are never going to be able to pay all your bills each month, let alone get out of debt! (At least, that's how we sometimes end up feeling) I have come across some ideas on how to save money on your utilities. They are not the most comfortable at times but they do work.

Keep the thermostat between 78-82 in the summer, I know that this is a big one for us here in sunny southern California. Especially for me, I get hot really easily and I hate being hot. But we did this last year for a few months and yes, at times it was uncomfortable but it was well worth it when our electric bill was under $125 instead of over $300 on months when we didn't keep the thermostat set at a higher temperature! I try to keep mine at 80 degrees in the hotter months!

Keep the thermostat between 60-65 degrees in the winter. You can always add more layers or keep blankets around to cuddle into if you get too cold! If the kids, or you, are complaining about being cold put on more clothes, don't turn up the thermostat. We usually keep our heater off in the winter months, and we hardly ever get down to 65. (My parents live in Pennsylvania and my dad refuses to turn on the heater because it costs so much, instead they use wood burning stoves to heat the house, another great idea if you have this available to you)

Also in the summer, remember I hate being hot, I will do the things that require me to be up moving around in the morning which is the coolest part of the day. Thus saving the warmer parts of the day for activities that are less physical and more stationary. Also, we are spoiled right now as our apartment complex has a swimming pool that we take full advantage of during the summer, spending the hottest parts of the day in the cool water of the pool. Make sure you use lots of sunscreen!

Use fans instead of your central air or air conditioners. Most fans use less electricity than your central air or air conditioner uses. Open the windows in the opposite corners of the house to "draw" the air through first thing in the morning and in the evening when it is cooler. Make sure to remember to close them later before the heat of the day hits. Let me emphasize again how important it is to remember to close them, I forgot a couple of times and those were the worst days of summer, ever!!!

Here is a trick that I learned when I was little from my dad, put the fans in your windows backwards to draw hot air out. If you want the cooler outside air to blow across one room, then place a fan in a window directly across the the house to suck the hot air out and the cool air in.

Plan ahead when baking during the summer. Only bake on cooler days, ideally when you won't need to use the air conditioner and can keep the windows open. Bake what you can in advance so if a really hot day comes you can avoid using the oven at all that day. A lot of times I will bake on Saturday in the morning, and then we all pile into the car to run errands in an air conditioned store, let them pay the huge bill. Or go to the library in the afternoon, or go swimming, you get the idea. The summer is a great time to grill and use the crock-pot as well!

If you don't have to use an appliance, then don't. I have many fond memories of being outside with my mom hanging up clothes on the clothesline to dry. That is one downfall of apartment living--no yard to hang a clothesline. Now some appliances you can't really not use, for example please don't unplug the refrigerator to save on energy costs. And then there are some appliances that reducing the usage of is not going to save you money, so go ahead and use the blender.

Sometimes, you can save money by replacing an inefficient appliance. A word of caution here though, most of the time it will take some time for the cost of replacing the appliance to make the energy savings worth it, so don't go out and replace every appliance just to save on your utilities. If you know that you will soon be necessary to replace an appliance, replace it with a more energy efficient version since you will be incurring those costs anyway.

Consider using fluorescent light bulbs if you use a lot of lights. There are lots of newer style fluorescent bulbs that are more friendly with the quality and color of light. Fluorescent bulbs can be expensive compared to incandescent, I was able to find some at the dollar store, a dollar for one fluorescent compared to a dollar for 4 incandescent bulbs. I did pick up a few of both kinds and replaced those bulbs that we use the most with fluorescent. Typically fluorescent bulbs tend to last longer than incandescent, about 10 years. If you decide to try fluorescent, try one or two at first, as you will want to make sure that you find bulbs you like before spending a lot of money to replace them all.

These are just a few tips that I have come up with, I am sure that there are many more out there, and I welcome you to share any tips that you know of that I may have overlooked.

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