For some, especially those who are moving from an apartment community where utilities are paid, getting the first electric, water, and gas bills are a shock. But utility bills don’t have to eat up a huge chunk of your budget – a few simple changes can make a world of difference.
Lighting in your home accounts for a whopping 14 percent of the energy bill. Remember being a kid and having your parents yell, “Turn off the lights!” whenever you left a room? Turns out they had a point – just turning the lights off when not in use saves you money. Also, use CFLs for bulbs. Yes, they are more expensive, but they last an incredibly long time and use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
Unplug your chargers and seldom-used appliances. According to the US Department of Energy, “phantom load” (the amount of energy your electronics are consuming when not in use but still plugged in) accounts for 75 percent of the electricity used.
Also, turn off your computer at night and turn off the television when not in use. Just shutting your computer down at the end of the day will save you money on your electric bill.
Install motion sensors on outside lights. Motion sensors will turn the lights on when there’s movement, and they’ll turn themselves off after a short period of time, saving money and energy while not risking safety.
If you don’t have any shade trees, plat some around your home. By reducing your home’s sun exposure, you’ll save up to 30 percent on your home cooling costs and vice versa. Also, use your ceiling fans and stationary fans – they will reduce your need for air conditioning. Make sure your home is properly insulated and there are no drafts around windows and doors. Use insulated window shades to make your windows more energy efficient. According to the Energy Star program, 50 percent of home energy use is heating and cooling. Doing what you can to reduce those costs will have a significant impact on your electric bill.
Other things you can do include installing a programmable thermostat, turning your water heater to 120 degrees F, and getting a home energy audit.