You may have noticed that the cost of living is slowly creeping up. This is not something that you hear about much in the media, which prefers to focus on more sensational coverage. You may have taken a few utilitarian steps, like signing up for Direct TV near you to take advantage of advanced satellite technology rather than relying on cables to give you better TV service at a lower price.

There is a lot more you can do to save more and live better. Here are some ideas to ponder:

Heating and Cooling

You can make small adjustments to heating and cooling that can lead to significant savings. Heating and cooling your home makes up about half your utility bill.

Here are three ways to save money:

  • Set your programmable thermostat low in winter and high in summer. Choose the lowest or highest settings that you consider comfortable. Adjust this set point when you’re away from home or sleeping.
  • Make sure your radiators, baseboard heaters and warm-air registers aren’t blocked by drapes or furniture. If they have accumulated dust, clean them to increase their efficiency.
  • You can influence internal temperatures by how you use draperies and shades. During winter, keep those on the south-facing windows open during the day and closed at nights. This way they allow the sunlight to warm the house when it does shine. During summer, when you want to keep the house cool, do the opposite, closing them during the day to block the heat of the sun.

Lighting

By lighting properly and using the most efficient bulbs in the market, you can avoid wasting energy. Here are three ways you can slash your electricity bill:

  • Replace your most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR models. This will save about $75 to $100 a year. The types of bulbs you need come in all shapes and sizes, and they are designed to fit in most fixtures.
  • Get controls like photocells and timers to save electricity by turning lights off when they aren’t needed. When you need less light in some areas like hallways, dimmers can prove useful in saving electricity. When you buy these products, find those compatible with the ENERGY STAR bulbs you want to use.
  • Maximize natural lighting by keeping your shades or curtains open during the day. This is much more sensible than turning on the lights. If you need more privacy, then use curtains with a loose-weave fabric that allows daylight in.

Appliances

There are ways of using your dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer that can cut costs. Here are three dishwater saving tips:

  • Review your dishwasher’s manual. The manufacturer will have provided water temperature recommendations.
  • You don’t have to prewash dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. This is only necessary if you have burned food on pots or have dried food on plates. Otherwise, it’s enough to just scrape them clean before putting them on the dishwasher racks.
  • Load up your dishwasher before you run it, but don’t overload it as you might not get everything as clean as you like.

Now, here are  three refrigerator-freezer energy tips:

  • Stick to the recommended temperatures of 35 degrees to 38 degrees Fahrenheit for fresh foods. There is no need to keep your refrigerator colder than that temperature range. If you are using a separate freezer for long-term storage, then you can drop the temperature to zero degrees Fahrenheit.
  • You can check the temperature of the refrigerator by putting an appliance thermometer in a glass of water and sticking it in the center of a refrigerator shelf. Read it after a complete day has passed. For the freezer, sandwich the appliance thermometer between two frozen packages. Again, read it only after a day has passed.
  • Check the seal on your refrigerator door to make sure it is airtight. One way to check is to put a dollar bill half in and out of the refrigerator and close the door. If you can pull it out easily, it means your door is not airtight. You may need to adjust the latch or replace the seal.

Water Heating

How you heat your water impacts how much you pay for your energy bill. You can get more for your money through wiser use. Here are three ways to cut costs:

  • Prefer short showers most of the time. Only take occasional baths and long showers as a special treat to unwind after a hectic day. Filling the tub and taking long showers on a consistent basis can spike up your heating bill.
  • You may be tempted to stay longer in the shower because the bathroom is cold. You can keep the bathroom warm by keeping the bathroom door closed while running the fan to take care of the steam.
  • A huge consumption of hot water is laundry. For most loads, you don’t need warm or hot water. Cold water will do just as good a job. For the rinse cycle, you should always stick with cold water.

Simple Steps to Save

When you think about it, all these energy saving ideas are easy to apply. With just a little forethought and environmental awareness, you can save quite a bit on your energy bill.

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