If you're at a loss to explain why your money seems to disappear so quickly, every month, your utility bills may be partly to blame. The solution to lowering your energy-related expenses involves a combination of high-tech approaches and old-fashioned methods. On the high-tech side, it pays to program your thermostat so that you're automatically adjusting your energy usage when your family is sleeping, at work, or at school. There's no need to make the house perfectly comfortable when no one's at home! If the idea of programming electronic devices causes you to break out in a cold sweat, then maybe you can ask your HVAC technician to set it up for you the next time he stops by for a service call or furnace tuneup. (Hey, you never know unless you ask!) Another way to save money on your energy bill is to use your clothes dryer less. This strategy is simple, but effective. Buy an old-fashioned clothes line, hang it up securely in your back yard, and use it to air-dry some of your laundry. I'm not saying it should replace your clothes dryer -- especially in the cold winter months. However, it can be an effective, low-tech method to reduce the energy demands you place on your dryer. There's also the option of drying some of your clothes on a drying rack. Fixing Leaks, Lighting, and Insulation Two common plumbing problems that many homeowners endure are toilets that run 24/7 and faucets that leak. While it may not seem that these relatively minor issues are going to impact your water bill, those leaks can and do add up over an extended period of time. Not only that, but the continual sound of your toilet tank running and your faucet dripping can be quite annoying! If you have the phone number of a reasonably priced plumber who can fix those problems, it'll pay to have him stop over. From an electricity standpoint, you can save money by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star certified bulbs. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these energy-efficient bulbs use 70-90% less energy than standard bulbs, they last 10 to 25 times longer, and produce substantially less heat. The fact that they generate up to 90% less heat makes them safer and more energy efficient, too -- particularly during the summer. As a side note, you can also save energy during the holidays by using Energy Star certified decorative light strings! Yet another way to make sure your home is energy efficient and cost effective is to check the insulation in the attic and other areas. If you're considering purchasing a home that is inadequately insulated, you could consider asking the seller to correct that problem, as a condition of the sale. An alternative approach would be to use that deficiency (and/or others) as a negotiating chip to get the price lowered. Whether you're buying or selling a house, an experienced real estate agent can help you negotiate mutually agreeable terms and successfully guide you through the twists and turns of real estate transactions!
Energy costs can really take a toll on our monthly bills. But you can take control of these costs with a few simple steps. And to help out, programs like Mass Save (Masssave.com) and www.energystar.gov will help homeowners save even more. Did you know that even when you turn off appliances, such as your TV, they still use energy? With all the electronics in your house, the energy use can really add up in a year. A quick easy way to control these costs is to get an advanced power strip, where there are multiple plugs for electronics that need to always be on (i.e. your cable box) and those that don't (i.e. you TV). The power strip will automatically turn off those electronics that are in the "don't keep on" sockets when the electronic in the "master" socket is turned off. Mass Save estimates that you can save $30 annually by using one of these on your entertainment system. Mass Save and Energy Star has a variety of other ways to save on energy from product savings (on things like light bulbs and power strips) to rebates for buying energy savings appliances. You can also get a free home energy assessment to help you get started on improving your home's energy savings. And if you are low income, there are programs to help you save on costs even more. Each state has it's own energy savings programs, so even if you aren't from Massachusetts, there are resources available to you. Be sure you contact your state's energy department to find out more about ways to save.