If you want to save money on food you have several options: eat out less, buy cheaper brands, do more from scratch, etc. But you usually don’t have alternatives to turn to for utilities like power, water, and gas. Saving money on utilities is almost entirely a game of changing your habits and adding up a lot of small savings.
Here are some habit changes your family can make to reduce monthly energy bills.
Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. A habit of leaving lights on in every room could mean that you are paying twice as much for lighting as you need.
Tough it out. Lower the thermostat in the winter so that the heating puts in less effort, and raise it in the summer so that the air conditioning isn’t constantly running. It’s not the only way to cut costs, but if you’re willing to make the comfort sacrifice, it can save you money.
Bundle up in winter. If you can lower the temperature in your regular indoor clothes, you could probably lower it a little more if you wear sweaters or sweatshirts inside. Every degree you lower the thermostat by in winter saves energy and money.
Set your thermostat to Auto. If it’s set to “On” it will just run constantly, and instead of making your home more comfortable, it can actually increase humidity.
Keep all vents open. There’s common misconception that shutting vents in unoccupied rooms saves energy, but it doesn’t. The system will still run at the same power, and will now encounter greater pressure in the ducts, which in turn can weaken the components and lead to shorter service life.
Change your furnace filter. A dirty filter is harder to pass air through, causing some of the same gradual pressure and stress problems as closing vents.
Keep the windows and doors closed. Check behind you when you come in or go out. If you have kids, make sure they understand and remember to close everything.
Seal doors and windows. These openings are opportunities for heat to pass through, thereby raising your power bill.
Use high-efficiency light bulbs. By using less power and lasting long, these bulbs could save you $75 a year compared to conventional bulbs.
Avoid supplementary heating. Electric and kerosene space heaters can be a big help if a furnace goes out or you have some other temporary situation, but using them regularly is less efficient than using your central system.
Use less hot water. Hot water takes energy to heat it, so if you can take shorter and colder showers, and/or wash laundry in cold water, that will help.
Unplug things you don’t need. Some electricity leaks out of appliances like toasters and especially phone chargers. Unplug chargers and fully charged phones, and whatever else you can reasonably reach.
Run your ceiling fans according to season. Most ceiling fans blow bidirectionally, with a switch toggling between up and down. In the summer set it to blow down, and in winter set it to blow upwards at the lowest setting. Ceiling fans only use about 60 watts even on the highest setting, compared to the 3,500 your AC system pulls when it’s running, so any cutback to the AC by using your fans is a solid trade-off.
Note: for most of these, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Maybe you can only unplug some appliances, or you can only cut five minutes off your shower time, or something like that. That’s okay! Even small changes make a difference if you stick with them. Don’t be intimidated out of saving on energy costs by worrying that by doing it, you’ll never be comfortable again! Choose your own balance between comfort and cost.
One of the biggest energy-saving steps is to maximize the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system. Whether it’s Spring or Fall just around the corner, having your system checked by your local HVAC technicians can go a long way to keeping your energy bills down. Call Twin Air in Manassas at (703) 754-1062 or reach us on our website.