Your Mother Was Right! Avoiding the High Cost of Winter Utilities
- We don’t need to heat the whole neighborhood – close the door!
- Don’t stand with the refrigerator door open.
- Let’s put a hole in the ceiling and watch our money fly away.
- Does every light in the house need to be on?
- Let’s not and say we did. (This was always a popular response when we kids came up with our “clever” – read: expensive and/or dangerous – ideas.)
If you’ve been focused on budgeting this holiday season don’t blow it now as winter begins to make its presence known. Listen to your mother!We don’t need to heat the whole neighborhood – close the door:
Test your home for air leaks. Light a candle and hold it near windows and doors (and don’t forget the door to the garage, if there is one). If the smoke drifts horizontally or the flame flickers out, you may have located an escape route for your energy dollar. Caulking, sealing, or weather stripping may be necessary to solve the problem. Window drafts can be stopped cold with clear plastic sheeting taped to the inside window frames – especially important if you spot condensation or frost inside your windows.
Don’t stand with the refrigerator door open:
Do keep your appliances clean and maintained – coils, filters, exhaust vents – to improve efficiency. Purchase inexpensive thermometers (you can find them in sets) for your refrigerator, freezer, and oven so temperatures are kept at appropriate levels — neither too hot nor too cold.
Let’s put a hole in the ceiling and watch our money fly away:
One word – insulation. Does your home have enough? Check out the Department of Energy website. They have everything you need to know about the where, what, and how of insulation for your home (and even businesses).
Does every light in the house need to be on?:
Turn it off. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room. Turn off appliances when not in use, like TVs, computers, VCRs, and stereos. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving (saves 4 gallons a minute). Repair leaky faucets and toilets – get this – a leaky toilet can waste up to 52,800 gallons of water a year. Do full loads when you use your dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer. Check it out – many of these appliances have conservation cycles that can save water, fuel, and money. Soak pots and pans with some dish soap rather than removing stuck on food with the force of running water. And consider running your appliances at off-peak hours for energy reliability.
Let’s not and say we did:
Choose the microwave over the conventional range or oven whenever possible. Take showers instead of baths – turning down the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees – it’s safer (lowers scalding risk for users) and saves energy and money.
Home purchase in your future? Request information on energy efficiencies like insulation, Energy Star appliances, and double pane windows, for example. Refinancing? Investigate adding energy efficient home improvements when you do.
*Statistics compiled from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Alliance to Save Energy websites.