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Save Energy….and Your Wallet

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Saving energy and money go hand in hand. Get the most out of your energy budget with energy conservation efforts the whole family can get behind. You won’t need to wear two pairs of socks or an overcoat in the house, but you will have to be mindful about how you use energy to make the plan work. This is not a get out of jail free plan; it requires diligence and effort from the whole household.

Start with a thorough evaluation of your energy bill. Do a comparison of this year’s usage to last. If the usage has gone up, look for the cause. If the usage has gone down but the bill is higher, you are not getting the cheapest gas and electricity available in your service area.

If your usage has gone up, it is time to conduct an energy audit. Not only should you review what has changed in daily usage but also what is contributing to your energy losses. Is your refrigerator on its last legs and using more electricity than in the past? Is it possible the furnace needs a clean to run more efficiently? What about window cooling units or space heaters. Are they being used more than in previous years? Look to windows and doors as well. Are there drafts, cracks, or warping causing heat and cooling losses?

Start with your furnace and have it serviced regularly by a licensed technician. A service will not only extend the life of your heating system but will give you a heads up when problems might be on the horizon. An efficiently functioning furnace will have stable energy use. However, one on the way out may be sporadic and not heat or cool at optimum energy use.

Use only Energy Star compliant space heating and cooling units. Space heaters should be used only in extreme cases and should never be the primary heat source for any room. However, window cooling units can often be more cost effective, particularly when a whole house cooling system is not feasible. Cooling a room only when in use is much more cost effective than cooling an entire home. When the family is enjoying a rare Friday night dinner together in the formal dining room, cooling it only for the time the family will be together is much easier on the budget than cooling it the other six days a week when it is nothing more than a pretty hallway with a big table in the middle.

If you find your kitchen appliances are not up to snuff in the energy conservation arena, it might be time for a pre-emptive replacement. Consult an energy conservation expert for testing of your refrigerator, dishwasher and range. Have the water heater tested for proper temperatures and lower it to the minimum for functionality for your model dishwasher. Replace seals on range doors to reduce heat loss and on refrigerators to reduce condenser cycling to maintain proper cooling temperatures. These two simple and easy fixes can save you hundreds on your heating bill the first year for a fraction of the cost. Check the flue on your fireplaces as well. When in use make sure it draws properly and install an insert or wood stove for maximum heating with all natural wood products. When not using your fireplace, ensure the flue is closed tightly. Heat escaping from your home and heating the outdoors is not part of a good energy conservation plan. Check and replace the weather stripping on entry doors and storm windows each fall, making this part of your winter plan.

Simple maintenance and evaluating your energy bill will guarantee you have the best and cheapest gas and electricity possible for your home. Never assume you are in good shape when it comes to energy conservation. Studies have shown that most homes can save as much as 30% on their energy bill simply by shopping around for energy prices and carrying out some simple low-cost home maintenance.

Money

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

9 Comments

  1. Don’t forget to set your thermostat at 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer.

    • Ha, we’ve actually been setting our thermostat on 63 for a few weeks, but it is getting a bit chilly… we might up it a few degrees.

  2. 78 in the summer is a little high for me. I can do with 74, but if I get too hot, I get grumpy. We noticed that our electric usage went down a lot this summer. I think it is because an extra refrigerator that we were using in the garage died and hasn’t been replaced. It may just stay that way.

    • Sometimes those old refridgerators can really suck the energy! It might be best to not replace it, or find an energy-efficient one.

  3. Just as an FYI. We struggled for months to figure out why our bill kept going up and in the end our electric bill had shot up to over $400! Finally we had an electrician come out to tell us what circuit was drawing all the electricity. It was our well pump. The pressure tank had sprung a leak and the pump was running 24×7 trying to fill the it. The pump and tank are underground and you cant hear it at all so we had no idea. So if your bill shoots up significantly, all of a sudden, Id pay a professional to come out and diagnose. It would have saved us quite a few hundred dollars in the end.

    • Good tip. I’ll actually have to look into my sump pump soon because it runs too often. We think there may be a break in the water line or something.

  4. Love your tips. We played a fun game with our kids.

    The old game I was hoping to eliminate was called (unofficially) “let’s see if our house can light up like Disneyland at night when dad gets home from work.”

    The alternate name was “how many televisions can we leave on without watching?”

    I wasn’t a fan of either title, btw.

    The new game involved taking some graph paper and comparing utility bills together, as a family. We’d draw a line each month from the old amount to the new one. Everyone was pulling for the line to head south. Even without a “reward”, my kids loved seeing the difference in bills from month to month. We’d leave for the day and they’d run around the house unplugging everything.

    It might be overkill to say that I like the new game better than the old one.

    Thanks for another awesome post.

    • Lol! I love this story! When I have kids, I hope they’ll play along with the “game” the same way! 🙂


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