The summer months are fast approaching, and with them comes increasing temperatures.
After a brutal winter, in which millions of Americans saw their utility bills skyrocket as a result of the record cold, citizens across the country had a brief reprieve over the spring months.
But, as this summer is expected to be as hot as ever, many are wondering what they can do to help prevent another spike in their energy bills. Here's a look at some steps you can follow to keep your utility bills in check this summer.
Unplug unused appliances
Many people may not realize that appliances and other electricity-using devices continue to draw energy, even when turned off. In order to save a few dollars off of your energy bill, it is a good idea to get in the habit of completely unplugging appliances, such as televisions, fans, washing machines and dryers, when not in use.
Additionally, unplugging lamps, computer and cell phone chargers and anything else which aren't in use in at all times will help you save on your power bill.
Reduce the setting on your water heater
Many people's water heaters are turned up to heat the water to unbearable levels. Not only is this inconvenient, but it's also a waste of money. Because your water heater must keep water at the desired temperature at all times, having it set too high essentially burns through money.
Many experts recommend reducing the water heater's setting to 120°. Should you go on vacation or have another extended stay away from the home, consider turning the heat down even further (or to vacation mode, if available).
Seal the cracks
Sealing the cracks is all about not letting the cool air inside your home seep out. The most obvious place to begin sealing up your home is to ensure that your windows and doors are always closed when air condition is running. Look for other cracks in the home (such as under exterior doors) and take measures to seal them as well.
If you find that cool air is escaping through cracks around doors or windows, consider using door docks or Visqueen on windows to prevent costly escapes of your climate control.
Temperature control by zones
In homes with central air conditioning, it is wise to close the vents in those parts of the home which people generally do not utilize. This will prevent those unused zones from cooling down, allowing the air conditioning unit to operate more efficiently and cool the habited zones more quickly.
For example, if no one ever goes in the basement, close all the AC vents in that part of the home. Besides, the basement tends to stay cooler than other parts of the home.
Fans (both ceiling fans and plug-ins) are also an excellent way of circulating air and leveling temperatures in your home and can help your HVAC system work smarter, since the only determination of when the air conditioning turns on is the temperature surrounding the thermostat.
Reduce water usage
There are a number of ways you and your family can reduce the amount of water use. These ways include installing a water-saving kit in the toilet and remembering to water your lawn sparingly - preferably in the evening as the sun is setting.
Another great way to save water is to simply not let it run needlessly. For example, turn the water off periodically while brushing your teeth and shaving. Taking shorter showers will conserve hundreds of gallons of water per year and reduce your water bill. Also, it is always cheaper to shower than to take a bath.
During the hot summer days, the sun beating down on your home can raise the temperature levels inside, especially through un-shaded windows.
If no one is home during the day, consider programming your thermostat to run less during the day or manually turning up the temperature (if your thermostat is not electronic). Combine this practice with drawing the shades/blinds on your windows and glass doors and help keep the inside of your home cool-er while you're not there.
When leaving home for an extended period of time during the summer, turn the HVAC system in your home off if the house is going to be empty. No sense in keeping the place cool if no one is there!
Summer is an expensive time for utilities thank to high demand for usage. Practicing money-saving techniques will help spare your wallet some of the pain!
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