Decide to save some money and resources.
This is your first decision and choice. Do you want to pay less money monthly for the utilities in your home? If the current cost for all your utilities is $200 a month, then saving 10% will save you $240 a year. A conscientious effort applied daily could save you more than that.
Simply thinking about your utility use and paying attention to how you do things is the first step toward saving money. Experiment before you begin a normal routine by asking yourself, “How might I do this differently?”
Experiment to see if a change creates a less comfortable situation. Can you tolerate the new situation? Can you learn to tolerate the change? Is the new change still safe? If not, don’t go there.
WATER – This may not be a big monthly bill, but conservation is good for the community and saves you money. You are billed on your water consumption in units of 100 cubic feet. Each 100 cubic feet unit = 748 gallons of water. Hot water costs you more in a number of ways. First, you have to heat the water and then the water needs to stay hot in the water heater until you use it. The water standing in the water pipes cools down so you have to run the water from the tap for a while until the hot water reaches your tap.
- Brushing your teeth and washing your hands. Use the water when you actually need it. Turn off the water except to wet your toothbrush/hands and then to rinse the toothpaste or soap. If you must have it on, turn it to a low trickle.
- Bathing. Baths use more water than showers. Bathtubs vary in size. The larger the tub, the more hot water you will use. A standard bathtub will hold about 40+/- gallons of water before overflowing. A shower with a flow restricted shower head will use less water (about 2 gal/min). You can also turn the water flow down or off for much of the shower and turn it up to get wet initially and to rinse off.
- Spend less time in the shower. Do you need to shave in the shower or are other alternatives available to you?
- Drips and Leaks. Fix any leaking faucets or outdoor hoses. A drip of 1 gallon of water every 10 minutes is equal to 144 gallons/day which is over 4300 gallons/month.
- Doing the Dishes. Run the dishwasher only when full. This also keeps the heat from entering the home as often when the air conditioning is on.
- Don’t pre-rinse the dishes. Pre-rinsing dishes before you hand-wash them or put them in the dishwasher uses up to 20 gallons of heated water a day. Instead, just scrape off the food and put them straight into the dishwasher. If you don’t want to do the above, use a small amount of water in the sink for rinsing prior to loading the dishwasher. (ConsumerSavvy)
ELECTRIC BILLS AND HEATING/COOLING:
- Light Bulbs. All three contributors suggest these ideas. Replace standard light bulbs with compact fluorescents. Turn off the lights when rooms are not in use.
- Temperature Settings. Adjust your heating/cooling thermostat higher in the summer when no one is at home, lower in the winter when no one is at home. Try living, at first, with a degree warmer in summer and a degree cooler in winter. Then try to change it another degree. Expand you comfort zone and save money.
- Keep the air filter systems clean. This provides for higher air flow efficiency.
- Use fans. Fans make you feel cooler in the summer and humidifiers make you feel warmer in the winter. Turn off the fan when you are not in the room. They do not actually lower the room’s temperature.
- Avoid chores while the A/C is running. The hotter the space, the harder an air conditioner must work to keep things cool. “Limit the use of heat-generating appliances such as the oven, dishwasher and clothes dryer during the daytime hours when temperatures are hottest,” says Steve Rosenstock, manager of energy solutions for the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group. “That just makes more of a load for your air conditioner,” he says. If there are rooms you are not using regularly, consider closing the air vents in the room.
- Water heater. Adjust hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees. When you are gone for several days, turn the temperature down.
- Washing Clothes. Wash full loads of clothes; use warm or cold water instead of hot. Unplug electronics.
You know to turn off electronic appliances like TVs and computers when not in use, but take it one step further and unplug them. Your computer and TV are still using electricity when not in use but are plugged in. Electronics are responsible for using 5% of all electricity produced in the United States. By unplugging, you can save a lot of energy. (Consumer Savvy)
- Close the blinds. Rooms get hotter without shades or curtains to block the sunlight, especially with south- and west-facing windows. Put this idea to work more effectively with insulated window treatments. (Smart Money). You may also notice which way the slats on shades are pointing. If the round side of the slate is toward the room, you will be letting a fair amount of sunlight in which can heat the room in the winter. Put them the other way to better block the sunshine in the summer, when you are trying to cool the room.
- Air Leaks, Drafts and Adding Insulation. All three contributors suggest paying attention to gaps in windows and doors which allow your money to fly outside the home. The suggestions for finding these leaks and dealing with them are on many websites.
Work/Life Connections-EAP wishes you the best of luck in your money saving practices.
Work/Life Connections-EAP would like to thank Ann Ercelawn, Original Cataloger in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, for sending a list of simple ways to save on utility costs.
Some of the ideas in this article were generated from Consumer Savvy and from MarketWatch.