As we head into the colder months, oftentimes utility costs are on the rise. Heating costs can be expensive and we naturally spend a bit more time indoors. However, there are many tips and tricks out there that can help you reduce some of those costs. Here is a list of ideas to help you cut back:
1. Make sure your air vents are open and clear
Take a trip around your home and check that none of your air vents have accidentally been closed. Also, make sure that your vents aren’t being blocked by furniture or any other objects. When they are, your furnace or air conditioner works extra hard to distribute air around your home, which can lead to rising costs.
2. Program your thermostat
If you have a programmable thermostat, take the time to utilize this feature. This way, you will be able to coordinate your heating or air conditioning according to your own personal schedule. You can actually save as much as 10% a year by turning your heating or cooling down by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day, according to Energy.gov.
3. Unplug your devices
Be aware of any TVs, stereos, computers, small kitchen appliances that you don’t regularly use and keep plugged in. These devices will actually continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. You can also use a power strip to cut off power to your devices to avoid these "vampire" loads.
4. Use your ceiling fans!
If your apartment comes equipped with ceiling fans, be sure to put them to use! Did you know that your AC can make up almost 25% of your electric bill? According to Energy.gov, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort. In the winter, you should change your ceiling fan to spin clockwise at a low speed. This will create an updraft that helps move warm air trapped near the ceiling back out and around the room.
5. Run your appliances at night
Running appliances like your dishwasher or washer at night can actually reduce your energy costs. A fact that not a lot of people may be aware of is that utility companies generally charge higher rates during peak hours (during the day when the load is highest with everyone awake and using their appliances). During off-peak hours at night, the rates are quite a bit lower. Since you have to change over clothes from your washer to your dryer, start your washer in time so you can change them over right before you go to bed. If your washer has a delayed start, you can also set it to start early in the morning so the clothes are ready to change over when you wake up!
6. Don’t rinse!
Contrary to popular belief, rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher is not necessary with modern dishwashers. According to Consumer Reports, it is actually just a waste of time and water. Believe it or not, these dishwashers now even work better on un-rinsed dishes! Next time you are loading your dishwasher, skip the rinsing!
7. Air dry when possible
For both dishwashing and drying your clothes, try to air dry when possible. Try to not use the “heat dry” feature on your dishwasher. Instead, crack open your dishwasher when it is done with its cycle and just let the dishes air dry. Or, even better, if your dishwasher has an “air dry” setting--always opt to use that! This can reduce your dishwasher's energy use by 15 percent to 50 percent, according to the California Energy Commission. Air drying your clothes, on the other hand, may be a bit more challenging. If you have to use the dryer (which is a necessity for many people living in apartments), at least be sure to clean the lint trap after each use. This helps ensure proper airflow, which can improve the dryer's efficiency.
8. Cold, not hot!
If possible, try to not wash your clothes on the hot setting. Washing clothes in cold or warm water can significantly help reduce your energy costs. According to Energy Star, almost 90 percent of washing machines’ energy consumption is spent heating the water. That’s a lot!
9. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
Take another trip around your home and, this time, be aware of what light bulbs you are using. If the light bulbs aren’t compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or LED bulbs, consider switching them! These use a lot less energy and are better for the environment. If you need help choosing new lightbulbs, take a look at this online tool from Energy Star.
10. Turn off the lights
The last tip may seem obvious, but many people often struggle with it. Teaching yourself to get in the habit of turning off the light when you leave a room can go a long way when it comes to saving energy. So much electricity is wasted simply by leaving lights on in rooms that aren’t being used...just flip that switch!