As the weather changes, your household energy bills may rise. When combined with regular rate increases from the power company, bigger electricity and gas bills could put a pinch on family finances.
There are a few ways you can help control rising energy costs without spending a lot of extra money or compromising comfort.
Keep your equipment clean
When a furnace must push air through a dirty filter, it takes more energy to heat your home. Furnace filters are inexpensive and available at every home improvement store. If you haven’t changed yours in the past 30 days, do so now. You’ll need to know the size of the furnace filter and whether your unit has one or two filters. Changing them should be as easy as sliding the old one out and putting the new one in.
Lower your water temperature
Many households have their water heater temperature set high. If yours is above 120 degrees, lower it. You won’t experience a lack of hot water, but it will cost you less money to maintain the temperature.
Before purchasing new appliances, check for rebates
Many energy companies offer valuable rebates for households that purchase appliances. While it’s never fun to have to replace a broken refrigerator or stove, if your electric or gas company offers a rebate, it could make the process less financially painful.
Use fans year round
Hot air rises, so in the summer, use a fan to help move it out of your space. Turning on a fan in your space can help the air around you feel ten degrees cooler. Of course, fans cool people by moving air, they don’t actually cool the air. So, there’s no reason to leave them on in an empty room.
Ceiling fans often have a tiny switch on their base that changes the direction of the blades when the fan is on. This is so you can help force rising hot air down toward the floor in the winter. In the summer, fans should flow so that they help hot air rise faster.
Wash in cold water
If you have a washing machine in your apartment, it’s important to understand that 90% of the cost of running these machines has to do with heating the water. Modern detergent does an excellent job of getting clothing, linens, and towels clean in cold or lukewarm water. It’s a nice bonus that cold water causes less wear and tear on these items.
Check your energy providers’ websites to find out if there’s an after-hours or off-peak discount
Some energy companies offer discounted rates if you use gas and electricity during less-busy times. If you start your dishwasher before you go to bed instead of right before you leave the house for work in the morning, it could cost you a lot less over the course of the month.
Program your thermostat to use less energy when no one is home
Most homes and apartments now have programmable thermostats. Take a few minutes to figure out how to set the temperature in your home 5 to 10 degrees cooler during the winter months while you aren’t home. This will help reduce your energy costs without making the system work so hard to heat your home while you are gone.
Keeping your energy costs down shouldn’t be a full-time job. Even the simple act of learning how hot and cool air flows can help you make more informed decisions. The most important thing to know about energy costs is that they need to fit into your budget. If you don’t have a budget in place, now is a great time to get started.