How to Keep Your Utility Expenses Low

by Alex Hersonski

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Invisible costs rob people of hundreds of dollars each year in added utility expenses. With a little creativity and a willingness to spend a little extra money now to save a lot in the long run, you can recover significant monetary savings from some places you might have never figured are leeching your money.

  • Save money on your water-heating bill by buying the most efficient water heater with a high Energy Factor (EF) rating. Consider investing in an on-demand heater that provides about two to four gallons per minute. You should also consider investing in a programmable timer that lets you have hot water available during those times when you are most likely to need it. An insulation blanket for your water heater as well as the hot water pipes is a relatively cheap investment that will allow you to effectively keep heat in, saving you money on your water-heating bill. Turn down your water heater temperature setting to around 125 degrees F or the minimum setting required by your dishwasher. Buy a low-flow showerhead to save on water costs and fix drips and leaks in your faucets and pipes.
  • Toilet flushing uses the most water in your home at any one time. Replace your toilets with a low-flow toilet that uses about half as many gallons per flush. An old-fashioned method to reduce toilet water volume is to place a small sealed glass jar or jug filled with water inside the tank. Make sure that it does not obstruct the toilet mechanism. If you use a brick, make sure it is water sealed, as it can disintegrate over time.
  • Consider investing in weather-insulated windows with double panes and low-e coating to keep in heat during the winter and keep it out during the hot summer months. Caulking and weather-stripping is a cheap alternative that works nearly as well. Use a candle near doors and windows to detect drafts. During winter months, close your curtains at night and keep them open during the day to allow sunlight in.
  • Lower your thermostat to around 65-68 degrees F when you are away for more than eight hours or consider investing in a programmable thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature setting when you are not at home. Regularly replace your air filters.
  • Insulate rooms that are adjacent to unheated or cool spaces, such as a garage or crawl space.
  • Use ceiling fans to circulate air during the summer and winter months. During the summer, a fan can help evenly circulate air, allowing you to feel comfortable even with a higher air conditioner setting. During the winter, reverse the direction of your ceiling fans so that they push air lower. This is particularly useful for high ceilings where much of the heat rises towards the ceiling and away from where it is needed.

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