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Coping with Global Warming: Tips to Save on Utility Bills

By (view all posts by Dealman)
at 12:08PM Monday April 12, 2010
under Money Saving Tips

Actually, this isn't going to be a post about how the arctic ice is melting and we all need to watch our utility bills, but catchy title, no?  There is some truth to it, as weather is getting more severe combined with rising energy costs, which can compound the problem.  In a way, Global Warming is unfortunately named, as many people think evidence of cold weather is evidence that Global Warming doesn't exist.  A better name might have been Global Changing, as all it means is that weather can become more erratic--more hot and more cold.

Wherever you fall in the Global Warming debate, there's no one who wants to pay too much on utility bills, so here are key tips to saving on utility bills.  A bonus is that these measures will also help the environment because the more electricity you save, the less of a carbon footprint you'll have.
Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs - Fluorescent light doesn't conjure up images of soft candlelight, but not all fluorescent bulbs are blinding and abrasive. Get a bulb with a Kelvin temperature of 2,600 to 3,000.  Fluorescent bulbs will cost more per bulb (around $7 each) but they'll last ten times longer than a traditional bulb and will save on electricity costs.

Unplug appliances - Your appliances will drain power even when they're off.  There's doubtlessly appliances throughout your residence that you only use once in a while.  But even those daily appliances--like a coffee maker--should be unplugged.  And keeping your computer in sleep mode?  Don't do it!  Tip: if you don't want to unplug everything, get yourself a smart power strip from Smart Home to control the amount of electricity outputted from your appliances.  At the link you can find light-timers as well, which are also important.

Turn down the heat/air conditioning - This is sort of a no-brainer and it applies to all electricity: the less you use, the less you pay. As heat or air conditioning may be constantly running, this should be the first in your list, as it can be a major drain.  It may not be ideal to say wear a sweater inside to stay warm, but that sweater won't cost you anything--unless it's gasoline powered.  Setting your washing machine to cold will save on heating costs as well by as much as 50% of the energy expended. 

Go with the low-flow - Low-flow toilets and showerheads can save as much as 60% of the water and energy.  Of course, installing a new toilet is expensive in itself, but showerheads are more-economical and easier to install.  Additionally, check all faucets for leaks.  That drip, drip, drip is money down the drain. Aerators for faucets work by the same principle as low-flow shower heads:  cutting the amount of water used.  Saving water on watering plants is key as well; there's nothing more maddening than seeing someone with the sprinklers on on a rainy day.  Water plants early in the morning so the water doesn't evaporate as quickly. 

Insulate water heaters
- New standards in water heaters mean that insulation is built in, but water heaters built before 2004 need some help.  Get yourself a thermal blanket from Amazon and save 10% annually.  Turning down the overall water temperate is vital as well.  Likewise, insulate the rest of your house--insulation for a pull-down attic staircase is a big one.  Weather stripping around doors and windows is also a must.

Take the above steps and you could save hundreds of dollars a year and help the environment.  These aren't homeowner-only things to do either.  Though you might not have control over the water heater if you rent an apartment, you can control your electricity and water use. 

How about you?  Any other tips for reducing costs?  Let us know in the comments.