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Saving Energy and Money
Rising energy costs have become a fact of life, and they can have a major impact on your budget. You know you can save money by adding insulation or putting in an energy-efficient furnace. But you and your family can make a host of smaller changes that can pay off in a big way when you get your bill.
Some suggestions from energy companies and the U.S. government include:
- Heating: Put on a sweater and turn the thermostat down as low as possible. Then turn it down even further at night or when you are gone for extended periods, like when you are at work or out of town; a timer can make this automatic. Use caulk or other barriers to stop drafts around windows and doors. Close exterior doors tightly. Open curtains during sunny days, and consider putting up insulated drapes to keep heat in at night or on cloudy days.
- Cooling: Set your thermostat as high as possible, and turn off the A/C and open the windows whenever you can. Close shades or curtains to keep out the sun during the heat of the day. Use fans to encourage air flow. Close air conditioning vents in rooms you don’t use regularly.
- Kitchen: Set your refrigerator to 37° to 42° F and your freezer to 5° F. To make sure your refrigerator door closes tightly, put a dollar bill against the refrigerator and close the door – if you can pull the bill out without much effort, you may need to replace your door gaskets. Let hot food cool off before putting it the refrigerator, and know what you want before you open the refrigerator door. And be sure to vacuum the coils at the bottom or back of the refrigerator at least every three months, to increase efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
- When using your oven, don’t preheat for longer than necessary – five to eight minutes should be enough. Use the microwave instead of the oven to reheat leftovers. And don’t peek, because every time you open the oven door, you lose several degrees of heat. Use pans appropriate to the size of the burners on your stovetop, and cover pots to speed heating. Finally, don’t run your dishwasher when it is only partly full.
- Laundry: Use warm or cold water, rather than hot, for the wash cycle whenever possible, and use cold for the rinse cycle. Don’t overload your washer, but try to avoid washing a lot of little loads. Don’t overload your dryer either, and dry towels and other heavy items separately. Clean the lint filter between dryer loads. And don’t overdry your clothes; not only does that waste energy, but it also is bad for your clothes.
- Lighting: The simplest way to save money on your light bill is just to turn off lights when you leave the room. Use fluorescent bulbs, including compact fluorescent (“twirly”) bulbs. Concentrate light where it is needed, such as over work tables or desks. Don’t leave phone and other kinds of chargers plugged in all the time, and turn off appliances like the TV when you are not using them.
By making some basic changes such as these, you can save energy and cut down on your utility bills. And that’s good news for you and for the environment.