By E.R. Bingham, eHow Contributor
In today’s tough economy, it can be challenging to find ways to save money and still live comfortably. If you own home or live in an apartment that does not include utilities in the monthly rent, these gas and electric bills can take a big chunk out of your monthly income. Being aware of these costs and finding ways to reduce them can help you save money. Does this Spark an idea?
- Reduce Utility Bills During the Summer
- Outside air conditioning units should be inspected and cleaned, if necessary, every other year. Air handling units should have the filters replaced monthly in the summer. When the cool air flows throughout the house more efficiently, the air conditioner will not have to run as long and will reduce summer electric bills. Ceiling fans are an efficient way to circulate cool air when the air conditioner is on. When the weather is cooler, opening windows is a good alternative to running the air conditioner and costs less. Cooking more meals outside on a grill during the summer saves money by keeping heat out of the house and the air conditioner working less.
- Checking for drafts around windows and doors on the first cold day can help reduce utility costs during winter. Replacing worn or missing weather stripping and also caulking in cracks that allow the outside air in will reduce heating costs. Having the heating unit serviced every year and the duct work inspected and cleaned if necessary will ensure efficient operation and can save on winter heating costs. Inspecting attic insulation and caulking any cracks around vent pipes going through the roof should also be done periodically. If a fireplace is present in the home it can be used on especially cold days and nights to offset heating costs.
- Replacing old windows can save money on heating and cooling costs but can be rather expensive. Install storm windows and doors, for immediate results in lowering utility bills at a fraction of the cost. Wrapping the water heater with insulation and putting pre-cut foam insulation on basement water pipes will reduce the time it takes to heat the water and lower natural gas, propane or electric bills. Replacing all light bulbs in the house or apartment with compact fluorescent bulbs will reduce electric bills and using dimmer switches can also make a difference. Unplugging items such as phone chargers, video game consoles and other electronic items saves energy and money.
- Watering flower beds using drip hoses instead of sprinklers saves on water bills and can reduce electricity costs for those with a well and pump. Putting outdoor lights on timers or replacing them with the solar powered type will reduce the utility bill all year. Inexpensive solar lights can be installed along walkways, decks and patios and come in a variety of colors. Planting shade trees in areas where the house is exposed to the most sunlight can reduce cooling costs year after year.