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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

10 Ways To Lower Your Utility Bills

The average U.S. household spends about $2,150 every year on utility bills. If you're spending more than $152 per month, you're paying more than average. By making simple improvements to your home you could reduce your utility bill from 10 to 50 percent.

1. Shade Those Windows

How you cover your windows has a direct impact on how much energy you save. Dark curtains and good covering blinds are important. In the summer keep curtains/blinds closed to windows facing the sun. In the winter, open them for some natural heating.

2. Landscape That Lawn

Not just for looks, trees can be an important way to reduce energy. Planting deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) around your home will help keep your home cool in the summer, and let the sun through in the winter.

3. Choose Your Exterior Wisely

When painting, or replacing your siding or roof, be sure and pick white or light colors. This, though it may not help a whole lot, is a no-cost way to reduce your bill. For roofing options, a white metal roof gives the best benefit.

4. Use CFL's (Compact Fluorescent Lights)

CFLs cost a bit more, but use 75% less energy than regular light bulbs and last about 10 times longer -so you save money, and you stay cooler. Replacing just four well-used 100-watt bulbs with equivalent 23-watt CFLs will save you $108 over three years!

5. Turn Off Those Lights

This should be a no-brainer, but we all need reminders every once in a while. This is a 100% free way to reduce your energy bill. If a light isn't being used, turn it off. If this is a hard habit to get into, install timers on all of your lights

6. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances

A lot can be said here, as this is a huge way to cut energy costs. A few things to remember: Every appliance in your house uses energy, and knowing how much energy each uses is a big benefit to you. A good idea is to check the yellow Energy Star label on appliances.

7. Upgrade Your Attic Insulation

If you don't already have insulation, adding it can save you between 10% and 20% on your heating bills. The higher the R value (heat-resistance factor) of the insulation, the better. For the attic, use at least R40. It's also a good idea to use a good sealant on your attic door.

8. Seal Those Air Ducts

The typical home lose 30%-40% of the cooling they pay for. This is because most ducts are leaky. Not a good thing, being as your ducts are the hottest place in your house. To avoid this, seal your duct system with mastic and mesh (not duct tape), and insulated with R-8 or better.

9. Clean Those Air Filters

You need to clean or replace air conditioner and furnace filters at least once per month. A dirty filter makes these appliances work much harder, using more energy and costing you more money.

10. Use More Cold Water

Yet another no-brainer, sometimes people forget this important tip. Reaching for that hot water faucet need not be a necessity. Dishes, clothes and hands can all be rinsed in cold water.
Author: Allan Wilson

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