It’s probably time to face the fact that the economy just isn’t going to improve at the rate experts had hoped. Although the toughest part of the recession that saw the most job losses is now firmly in the rearview mirror, the recovery is more ‘slow’ than ‘steady’. The problem is that all of the regular costs of running your household continue to rise. Energy expenses lead the pack, and will only get worse in the years to come as supplies continue to dwindle. Luckily there are plenty of things you can do about this household line item. It’s going to take a bit of careful planning and some responsible usage methods, but you can easily cut your electric bill by as much as 30% if you set your mind to it. Here are five of the ways you can control energy costs at home.
First of all, consider having a programmable thermostat installed for your HVAC system. It will cost a bit more money, but you’ll easily make up that gap in saved energy costs. With a programmable thermostat you’ll be able to turn your air on and off remotely, thanks to the introduction of mobile apps you can pair with most of these devices. In addition you can set up zones in your home, so you only heat and cool the parts of the house that are actually being used. You can also set times when the temperature can be adjusted just a degree or two up or down. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but you’ll notice the difference immediately on your next energy bill.
If you have the bandwidth in your budget you might want to consider replacing some of your current appliances with Energy Star rated devices. Any appliance that’s five years old or more is probably due to be replaced, and costly repair jobs will never return those units to their previous efficient operating levels. Energy Star appliances will save you about 30% of your energy costs right away, and will usually get the job done better as well. Consider your usage patterns when deciding what to replace, but at the very least go this route with your HVAC system and save a bundle.
Next, look for ways to forego your air conditioner for the rest of the summer. Obviously you’re going to have to make some concessions during those heat wave days, but on milder days try to get by with open windows and a well placed fan or two. Keeping the lights out in your house during the day will help cut down unnecessary heat, as will leaving your oven alone and skipping the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher. A good set of blackout curtains placed over the windows that get the most direct sun will make a huge difference in the internal temperature as well, helping cut your reliance on air conditioning.
You might also want to look into installing ceiling fans. These are fairly easy, and with an extra hand to help out you should be able to do the job on your own. Ceiling fans are incredibly energy efficient, and you can leave them to run 24/7 without feeling like you’re wasting much energy. The fan will also help move the air from open windows, cutting down on the staleness and improving the air quality in your house all at the same time.
Finally, consider how you use your electronics. Bringing home a series of smart power strips may seem like too small a measure for controlling energy costs, but they’ll actually make a big difference. The goal is to make sure each device actually shuts down completely when you aren’t using them. That means monitors aren’t allowed to stay on all night in ‘sleep mode’, but actually switch off completely. Unless you’re talking about something like the refrigerator there’s no reason for any device in the house to run all the time. You’ll make a real dent in your electric bill just by being responsible with your gadgets and devices.