You've switched to compact fluorescent light bulbs, installed a programmable thermostat, and started taking shorter showers. Here are some other ways to lower your energy bills.
- TIP: Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.
- Step 1: Plug home electronics and kitchen appliances into power strips so you can easily unplug them when they're not in use; many appliances continue to use power even when they're switched off.
- FACT: 43 percent of the average utility bill goes for heating and cooling.
- Step 2: Save on your bills by being energy efficient when cooking: Prepare meals using small electric pans, a toaster oven, a pressure cooker, or a microwave oven whenever possible. A toaster oven alone uses a third to half as much energy as a full-size oven. Always match the size of the pan you're using to the heating element.
- Step 3: Cover foods before putting them in the refrigerator; uncovered foods cause excess moisture, making the compressor work harder. Check the door seal periodically by closing it over a dollar; if you can easily pull the bill out, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
- Step 4: Buy the right-sized room air conditioner; a large one in a small space will perform less effectively and efficiently. If you have central A/C, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit, and use individual fans to circulate air instead -- it's cheaper.
- TIP: Setting your A/C's thermostat to a colder temperature won't cool the room any faster; the only thing it will crank up quickly is your energy bill
- Step 5: Save on energy bills by checking your air ducts for leaks; poorly insulated ones can rack up hundreds of dollars a year in costs. Consider insulating ducts; you can lose up to 60 percent of your heated air if un-insulated ducts travel through unheated spaces like attics.
- Step 6: Let the sun help you save on heating and cooling bills by keeping curtains and shades on south-facing windows open on winter days and closed in summer. Make sure baseboard heaters and radiators aren't blocked by furniture, carpeting, or curtains. And consider installing storm windows: they can reduce heat loss through windows by up to 50 percent.