Homeowners, (as well as renters) would be wise to look into ways of saving on energy as soon as possible because the next several months will be a shock to our wallets!
We here in Toledo and Northwest Ohio have had a mild winter so far but because natural gas prices have more than doubled since last year at this time we haven’t noticed it yet.
Duke Energy, an American electric power and natural gas holding company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced in October the price it charges has been raised to a rate of $0.713 per hundred cubic feet for natural gas. That increase is the highest level since 2014, and is twice what we were paying last fall!
Your gas bills aren't the only thing that is on the rise, electric bills will be shooting up as well. These energy charges are rising for one simple reason: natural gas is what is used to power the generators that make electricity.
So what can we do? Someone a lot smarter than I once wrote, "We can't control the wind, but we can adjust our sails", so here are some of my tips for saving money around your home as we move forward this winter:
Energy Saving Tips
Making a few simple changes can boost your home's value, as well as make it more energy-efficient.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater.
- Check for air leaking around doors.
- Close the air vents in rooms, not in use.
- Clean your furnace and air conditioner filters.
- Request an energy audit. Most utility companies will make recommendations or offer low-cost financing for improvements.
- Replace deficient insulation.
- Replace old or inefficient appliances. If your budget limits you to replacing one appliance, buy a new refrigerator, which represents about half of your electric bill.
- Buy new light bulbs. Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent, which pay for themselves in energy conservation.
- Use your microwave instead of your stove when cooking.
- Defrost your refrigerator and freezer before ice buildup becomes 1/4-inch thick to ensure your appliances are running efficiently.
- During cooler months, open shades to let the sun warm your home. In the warmer months, close blinds, shades and, drapes on the sunny side of your home to help keep your home's temperature cooler and reduce the work for your AC.
- Don't peek in the oven while baking! Every time you peek, the temperature can drop 25 F, making your oven use more energy to bring the
- Use natural light when possible.
- Control your fixtures with a photocell or a timer to assure dusk-to-dawn-only operation of your outdoor lights.
- Don't leave your electronics on all day long. Only turn on your computer, monitor, printer and fax machine when you need them.
- Set your thermostat to 78F in the summer and 68F in the winter - every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage by 6% to 8%. Setting your thermostat to a lower temperature than normal will not cool your home faster.
- Refrigerators and freezers actually operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible (using water bottles if nothing else). Be careful about overfilling them as this will reduce airflow and cause the appliance to work harder.
- Using dishwashers and clothes washers/dryers at night will keep the house cooler, reduce strain on the power grid during the peak usage hours of 4 PM and 6 PM and reduce the chance of an emergency!
- Turn off the heated dry on your dishwasher and air dry instead.
- Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer's recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy.
- Don't leave bathroom or kitchen ventilation fans running longer than necessary. They replace inside air with outside.
- Replace your windows. If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy-efficient windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film.
- Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
- Turn off the lights when they're not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.
- Don’t leave your mobile phone plugged in overnight. It only takes a couple of hours to charge.
- Turn off the oven a few minutes before cooking time runs out. Your food will continue to cook without using the extra electricity.
- Watch your appliance placement. Avoid placing appliances that give off heat, such as lamps or TVs, near a thermostat.
- Operate large appliances during low-use periods in summer.
- When purchasing your next home, consider an Energy Efficient Mortgage which enables homebuyers to finance energy-efficient improvements with their FHA-insured mortgage.
- Dress for the weather. When you're at home, dress in warm clothing in the winter and cooler clothing in the summer to stay comfortable without making your heater and AC work harder.