How to Save Money on Home Expenses
Monthly expenses are a large portion of most people’s budgets. This is especially true when it comes to heating and cooling our homes. Energy costs seem to increase almost every month, so it’s a good idea to do what you can to reduce costs whenever possible. Here are some tips for keeping your energy costs down.
Pay Attention to Time of Use
Many electrical companies charge different rates at different times. When demand is higher (usually during the day) you’ll be charged more for using electricity than you will be during the night (when demand tends to be lower). Find out if your utility company operates on time-of-use pricing and, if it does, shift as many activities as you can to off-peak times. Many appliances and electronics have timers that let you set them to activate later on when prices are lower.
Save Money Washing and Drying
A lot of energy is spent washing and drying clothes and dishes. There are several ways to spend less on these chores:
- Whenever it makes sense, use cold water when washing clothes. Most of the energy a washing machine uses is for heating water. By washing in cold, you’ll save money.
- Avoid drying clothes when you can. Hang up clothes to dry instead. Use a clothesline or drying rack to air-dry your clothes.
- When you do use the dryer, make sure the lint trap is clean. This makes your dryer more efficient so it will use less energy.
- Make sure your dishwasher is full before you run it, so you can use it less often.
- Instead of using the standard dishwasher drying cycle, use the no heat option or avoid the drying cycle entirely and just open the door to let the dishes air-dry.
Change the Thermostat
By setting your thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter and a few warmer in the summer, you’ll save a lot of money and still feel comfortable. Use ceiling fans if you have them. They circulate air to make it feel more comfortable, but they use less energy than heating or air conditioning systems.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one already. This will allow you to consume less power when you’re away or asleep.
Use More Efficient Lighting
Swap out traditional light bulbs for CFL or LED bulbs to save money on electricity. These bulbs tend to cost more to buy up front, but they will save you money over time and they tend to last much longer as well, so you won’t have to replace them as often. Use dimmer switches to reduce the amount of electricity you use and remember to turn off lights when you leave a room. One light bulb doesn’t use that much energy, but when you add up all the light bulbs in your house, that’s a big expense.
Using your Fridge and Freezer Efficiently
Keep your freezer relatively full and it will consume less energy. That’s because the items inside that are already frozen will help keep everything else cool. However, be careful about over-filling your refrigerator. Fridges that are too full can have trouble circulating air, so they’ll need to work harder to keep everything cold.
You’ll also want to consider whether it makes sense to get rid of the extra fridge in your basement or garage. Many people have secondary fridges for convenience, but these use a lot of energy. This is especially true for older, less energy-efficient fridges.
Look at your Windows
Windows can lose a lot of heat during the winter and make it tougher to keep things cool during the summer. That negatively affects the temperature of your house and increases your heating and cooling costs. However, since replacing older windows can be very expensive, there are a few other things you can do to make them more efficient.
Dark curtains can block the sun in the summer, keeping your home cooler. If you get a lot of sunlight, opening your curtains or blinds during sunny days can help keep your house warm in the winter, while doing the opposite (closing them during the day) will keep things cool in summer.
Also consider using caulking, weather stripping, or window film to seal drafty windows.