Cut Your Energy Costs Day

by Kelli H. Clevenger

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Do you hate opening your energy bill? If you're nodding yes, then circle January 10 on your calendar. It's "Cut Your Energy Costs Day." You can conquer the day with a few simple steps. Saving money is a great resolution but a hard one to keep. Get started with this quick list and less effort than you think. Your reward will be more jingle in your piggy bank.

According to the U.S. department of Energy, the average residential monthly power bill was just over $110.00 in 2013. Ouch. When Mom said to turn off the lights, she was right. Everyone knows ways to reduce energy, but busy days might prevent it. Don't fret. By doing a few simple things, you can look forward to more greenbacks by year's end.

Start with this simple list; post it to your fridge. Most tasks are easy, do-it-yourself projects. To make the day productive, accomplish the easiest tasks first and move down the list. Before you know it, the list will be complete.

1. Make sure your home is properly sealed

- Use caulk and weather stripping to seal/prevent air leaks around windows and doors

- Close fireplace dampers if fireplace is not in use

- Check insulation for loose or removed pieces

2. Turn off and/or unplug appliances

Related: Home Maintenance Tasks to Improve Your Home's Energy Usage

- Turn off pilot light in fireplace when not in use

- Turn computer, DVD players, and televisions off when not in use; better yet, unplug them

- Turn dishwasherpower source off; turn on before using

- Turn off lights when leaving room

3. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy saving light bulbs

4. Reduce water heater usage

- Set water heater on a lower temperature

- Insulate pipes connected to the water heater

5. Cool with natural air

- Raise windows; consider investing in window and door screens

- Use energy efficient ceiling fans instead of air conditioning

6. Use small appliances in kitchen

- Use a slow cooker instead of the stovetop

- Use the microwave

- Use a toaster and/or toaster oven

- Use glass or ceramic pots, instead of metal

- Use flat bottom copper pans

- Use the right size pan on the stovetop

7. Conserve water

- Fix leaky faucets

- Install water saving showerheads

- Use cold water to wash laundry; only wash full loads

- Use the proper laundry detergent and the correct amount

- Consider installing water efficient toilets

- Ensure toilets are working properly and have no leaks

- Turn the water off when brushing teeth

- Reduce shower time and use cooler water

8. Dry laundry differently

- Combine loads and use the dryer less often

- Try using laundry balls (helps separate clothes for efficient drying)

- When possible, air dry clothes; consider buying indoor clothes racks and/or installing an outdoor drying line

- Keep lint filter/screen cleaned out

9. Your air conditioning system

- Change filters regularly

- Clean coils or have them cleaned annually

- Ensure that drain lines are clean and not clogged

- Make sure window units are sealed properly and free of dust and debris

calculator iconCalculator: Should you borrow from your home equity?

10. Heating Fuel Savings

- Set winter thermostat on 68 degrees (what The Department of Energy recommends)

- Summer setting should be 78 degrees or higher

- When away, set thermostat ten degrees lower in winter and ten degrees higher in summer

- Purchase fuel in the off-season; inquire about saving options at fuel

- Consider a programmable thermostat

11. Vacuum only once a week

Here's one final tip. Reduce hair dryer use. It uses more power than your vacuum, according to the Department of Energy. That explains why the lights dim when you turn it on. Yikes!

By developing a daily routine, and practicing these tips, you can lower energy costs and reduce your monthly bill. It's a resolution worth keeping. Your piggy bank will thank you and your power bill will shrink.

Kelli is a freelance writer who lives on a small horse farm in the North Carolina foothills. She lives with her husband, horses, dogs, and bossy cats; her hobby is saving money.

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