A home should be a stockade, a refuge from the flaming arrows of anxiety, tension and worry.
~ Wilfred Peterson
Our homes are like the extra person in our family. We tend to them. We buy them nice things when we can. And we want the best for them. Over the last year, we’ve spent time working from home, learning to stream movies and have entertainment at home, and maybe even renovating our home or yard. And we’ve learned just how much it can cost to keep that home up and running.
Gratefully, we’ve also learned a lot of ways to save on utility and household costs! With a new year comes new patterns of behavior, and lessons learned. Here are 5 simple things you can do to reduce utility expenses and make your home both a physical and financial refuge for your family:
o I know it’s tried and true. But adjusting the thermostat saves more than you think. The Department of Energy says that heating and cooling the home makes up 56% of your utility bills. Their research shows that adjusting the temperature for off hours alone can save you up to 10% a year in costs. So throwing on a sweater – or throwing open a window on lovely days – really can add up.
2. Energy audit
o This is simply a checklist to ensure your home isn’t wasting energy and therefore your money. You can do it yourself – just download the energy audit tool on the Department of Energy website. Your local service provider may also provide a free or low-cost review. When we did ours, we also let them install a small monitor that helps maximize our temperature settings and gives us a bit of a rebate on our bill.
3. Air filters
o If your filters are dusty, your system is having to work extra hard to circulate the air. Checking filters monthly and cleaning or replacing regularly keeps your system working at its peak. This helps reduce your utility expenses quite a bit.
4. Light bulbs
o Compare the benefits of long-life bulbs such as LED and CFL/fluorescent to traditional incandescent bulbs. Though they are more costly up front and may have special handling, you can cut the annual energy cost from light bulbs by up to 75%. To learn more, check out the Energy Saver blog.
5. Water heater
o Check the settings and bump the temperature down to 120 degrees. That’s hot enough for laundry and dishes and everyday chores, without wasting additional energy to hold your tank at a higher temperature.
Looking for even more ideas? Check out the Department of Energy booklet for savings. It walks you through other great tips including sealing leaks, using programmable thermostats, and options on insulation. Each of these are small investments into your home, and taken together it can make for significant savings for years to come.
For more ways to reduce utility expenses, check out our Money Minute blog: