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You don't have to own a home to save money on your utility bills. Renters and homeowners can save money and energy with a few simple tips. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/KentWeakley
Speaking from experience, renting housing from a landlord or even owning a home can be an expensive ordeal. And without taking energy efficiency precautions, your utility bills can make paying rent or a mortgage even worse. To help avoid such financial pains, I’ve put together a list that not only helps you save money, but helps the national grid save electricity.
Turn off those Electronics
If you’re paying for cable television, you might be paying for more than you think. Cable set-top boxes consume more energy than most other electronics put together. At one time cable boxes cost Americans $3 billion per year, and $2 billion of that was when televisions were turned off! A quick fix to this overuse is as easy as a flick of a switch. Turn off your power strip when such devices are not in use. This method cuts the power at the cord, eliminating a worry of idling devices continuing to run up your electricity bill.
Nevertheless, there is a glimmer of hope for this problem. A 2013 agreement between the Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) looks to improve set-top box efficiency by 10 to 45% by 2017. This would save $1 billion on consumer energy bills annually.
In addition, be sure to turn off home PCs, monitors, and laptops when not in use. Even sleep mode and other power management features can save on watts during the day. You can also purchase ENERGY STAR-labeled electronics that can reduce electricity use by as much as 75% for some products. You can learn more tips on reducing energy use with home electronics here.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling your home properly is the most cost effective way to manage your utility bills. Scheduling heating and cooling times with a programmable thermostat when you’re home vs. away is the simplest way to do this. If you live in an older space without a programmable thermostat, be sure to get one. If you’re a renter like me, I would recommend suggesting the upgrade to your landlord, as it will save the both of you money over the long term.
Another quick fix to cut heating and cooling costs is replacing filters on furnaces and air conditioners. Also be sure to move any furniture blocking air vents. This will keep your HVAC system functioning efficiently in your space. It’s also a great way to reduce allergens.
Being it is summer, cooling a home is paramount. Try keeping your blinds drawn during the day to block the sun’s heat and keep the home cooler even when the air conditioner is off.
Per usual, I must heckle all of you to replace your inefficient incandescent light bulbs wasting watts on a daily basis. LED and CFL bulbs use 75-80% less energy and last much longer. Replacing even 15 incandescent light bulbs can save you as much as $50 per year. Turning off your lights when not in use is a no brainer, but can help reduce the 5% you spend on lighting in your energy budget.
So whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you can lower your utility bills and save energy with just a few small steps.