Energy-Saving Tips to Cut Down Your Utility Bill
Despite the fact that energy prices have been coming down lately thanks to discoveries of new natural gas reserves, the average American still spends entirely too much on their energy bill. While the United States only makes up about five percent of the world’s population, we account for almost a quarter of the world’s total energy consumption. Since energy prices are only going to move upward in the long-term, it’s useful to know a few simple strategies that will help you bring down your home’s energy costs. There’s always room for improvement, and with these tips, you won’t have to sacrifice much to start cutting down on home energy consumption.
Heating and air conditioning costs make up most of your energy bill. According to Energy Star, heating and cooling represent nearly fifty percent of the annual total most people pay in utilities.
Of course, no one wants to be uncomfortably hot or cold in their own house. But you don’t really need to be to cut back on consumption. One great strategy that requires very little investment is to improve your home’s ability to trap hot or cold air (depending on the season) with weather stripping and insulation. Sealing your home so conditioned or heated air isn’t leaking out of your home can save you a fortune in the long run, and it doesn’t cost very much.
Similarly, that sunlight that streaks into your living room in the afternoon doesn’t just cause an annoying glare on the television screen; it can also warm up the room considerably. Invest in some high-quality sun blocking shades, and draw them on whichever side of the house the sun is on. You’ll still get natural light coming in from the other side of the house, but that direct sunlight hitting your windows – the kind that can make a room feel like a sauna – will be eliminated.
These strategies are great for stretches of two or three hot days in a row, but in the “dog days” of July and August, it can become unreasonable to keep the air conditioning off. When avoiding central cooling altogether is no longer an option, the key to savings is to use it as efficiently as possible. For most, this means keeping it well-maintained and setting up the vents in your home properly. Something as simple as an old air filter can really reduce the efficiency of your air conditioning system if left undiscovered. Also, if you’ve got a spare bedroom or dining room that is rarely used, close off the vents in those spots. These small steps, while they won’t totally eliminate your energy bill, can help to make your home more comfortable with greater efficiency