They come regularly every month the dreaded utility bills. Many people take these services (and their fees) for granted, but its easy to lower your telephone, electric, gas and water bills. Heres how you can save:
- Send an e-mail or write a letter instead of making a long distance phone call.
- Use your cell phone if you have free minutes each month. Dont let them go to waste. Set a timer or log your conversation time if your minutes are limited so you wont end up with a hefty bill.
- Cancel phone services you dont often use, like three-way calling or call waiting.
- Choose a long distance plan that allows you to call any day of the week, or track your long distance usage and then research the plan that best fits your calling pattern.
Cooling and heating
- Set the thermostat at the highest comfortable level in the summer and the lowest in the winter. For example, a summer setting of 78 degrees uses about 40 percent less power than an air conditioner set at 72 degrees. A programmable thermostat or timer will adjust the temperature automatically.
- Use fans to circulate air. They use about one-tenth as much electricity as an air conditioner and make it feel about 10 degrees cooler. In winter, reverse the fans direction to drive heat downward.
- Repair gaps and cracks in your foundation, on your roof or in windows. A one-eighth inch opening around two doorframes will let in as much warm/cold air as a small window open 6 inches.
- Close doors or vents in rooms that are seldom used.
- In the summer, keep sunlight out by closing blinds or curtains. And, use the warmth of the sun in the winter.
- Utility audits offered by many power companies could save you up to $100 a year and may be provided free or at low cost.
- Ask your electric company about off-peak rates. The savings may compensate for the inconvenience.
- Use fluorescent bulbs in lights that get used often. These bulbs last significantly longer, cost less to run and provide more light.
- Using your microwave for cooking can save you 50 percent in energy costs compared to your stove.
- Set your water heater below 120 degrees. You can save 13 percent for each 10 degrees lower.
- Set your washer for cold water rinse and only use hot wash when necessary. A full load uses less water than two small ones.
- Wait to run your dishwasher until you have a full load. Allow dishes to air-dry.
- Whenever your faucet or toilet runs, it costs money. Store a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator, turn off the tap while brushing, fix leaks immediately, and install a flow-restricting showerhead or low-flow toilet.
- Keep appliances clean and well maintained. Dryer lint, dusty refrigerator coils and soiled reflector pans reduce energy efficiency.
- Consider purchasing new appliances if yours are more than 10 years old. Newer models use 30 percent less electricity.
Follow these simple tips and youll get a double benefit; youll save money, plus youll conserve precious energy resources for future generations.