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Smart Savings on Your Energy Bills
To save money on heating, you can put on an extra sweater and turn the heat down, of course. But Forbes.com has some ideas for cost-effective ways you can cut your energy costs and still be comfortable:
Insulate. Having the proper insulation can cut heating and cooling costs by up to half. Insulation costs range from about 40 cents to about $2 a square foot, plus installation – which you might be able to do yourself. Options range from blown-in foam insulation to more environmentally friendly natural or recycled materials.
Seal leaks. Leaks in your attic, basement and around windows and doors can cost about $70 a year, while sealing those leaks with weatherstripping or caulk costs $100 to $600. You can do it yourself, but you should consult a professional before you start to make sure that your stove, hot water heater and furnace are working properly. Otherwise, if you seal your home too tightly you could trap dangerous gases inside.
Improve your windows. Although replacing your windows with energy-efficient double-pane windows can be expensive, it also has a big payoff – it can cut your energy bills in half. As a cheaper alternative, buy shrink-wrap window covering to provide extra insulation.
Use twirly bulbs. Compact fluorescent lighting, or “twirly bulbs,” use 35 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. As a bonus, they last up to 13 times longer.
Update your furnace and A/C. Especially if your units are old, you can save a ton by investing in a more energy-efficient heating and cooling system. Using ceiling fans also can allow you to turn your thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter.
Heat or cool where you are. Your furnace and central air conditioning are designed to heat or cool your whole home. But if you spend most of your time in only a few rooms, you can use a space heater or a room air conditioner in those rooms and lower the thermostat on your furnace in winter or raise the thermostat on your central air in summer.
Put a jacket on your water heater. Insulating your water heater can save you about 9 percent on your water heating costs. Also, a water heater that uses natural gas is much cheaper to run than one that uses electricity.
Take a look at your appliances. The energy efficiency of appliances from refrigerators to washing machines has improved significantly in recent years. If you need to replace an appliance, look for one with an Energy Star rating. And if your refrigerator was manufactured before 1993, it could pay off to replace it even if it is working well because current models are so much less costly to use.
Unplug your electronics. Even if your computer or your TV is in standby or sleep mode, it is drawing some power as long as it is plugged in. Using a surge protector can make it easy to turn off the electricity to multiple appliances at one time.