Small changes make big savings on utilities

ELECTRIC

Ceiling Fans

Pool Pumps and Heaters

Your pool pump and heater are huge energy users.  It is necessary to run the pump to filter the water and keep your pool clean.  However, it is not necessary to run it for six hours a day to do so.  We have found that in the hot months, we can run it for 4 hours a day and the pool will still stay clean, as long as the chlorine tabs are full.  In the cooler months, we can get away with 3 hours a day, as algae doesn’t grow as fast in the cooler months, so it doesn’t take as long to filter the water.

Clean your filter at least once a month.  Take it out and hose it off really well.  This will increase the efficiency of your filter and the pump will not need to work as hard or as long to filter the water and keep it clean.

Check your water with a water tester.  They are very inexpensive and quite easy to use.  Most kits will have instructions on what to add to improve the PH levels and keep them normal.  Muratic Acid and Chlorine are the two most common chemicals you will need to adjust your PH.

WATER HEATERS

Your water heater is one of the largest energy users in your home.  Basically anything with a heating element in it is going to be a big energy user.

We have changed to an “on demand” water heater.  So far it has saved us about $35 a month, which is pretty substantial.  It means paying attention to your hot water usage, you can’t take a shower and run a load of whites (hot water) in the washer.  Other than that there is plenty of hot water and the only time the heating element comes on it when we turn on the hot water faucet.  We paid $269 for the heater and my husband installed it in about an hour.  So the heater will basically pay for itself in about 7 1/2 months and then it is pure savings.  This was a very wise investment.  Ours is electric, but for off the grid, they have 12 volt and propane models available.

Before we purchased our on demand water heater, we actually unplugged the water heater everyday.  It only took about an hour to heat the water in the tank every day and we had plenty of hot water.  The water in the tank doesn’t cool off quickly because it is insulated very well.  We saved between $5 and $10 a month doing this.

We also only have cold water running into the dishwasher.  It has its own heating element and heats the water.  It takes far less energy to heat the small amount of water in the dishwasher than to heat a tank up.

Also, use cold water in your washer.  I only use hot water for whites about once or twice a month.  Same for light clothes, I use warm only a few times a month or if the clothes are exceptionally dirty.  I use oxy clean for whites and lights and only use bleach about once a month for whites.  Clothes last longer and get plenty clean.

 

WATER/SEWER

Brushing your teeth, turn off the water faucet while you are brushing.  Leaving it running can waste up to 3 gallons of water depending on your flow rate!  You are not using it while you are brushing, so save the water and turn it off!

Install aireators or water saver faucets and adapters to save water.  These faucets and adapters restrict the flow of water but you don’t sacrifice pressure.  You can still shower and do dishes the same as always, you just use less water.

Time your shower.  If you like to lounge in the shower and enjoy the warm water, STOP!  You are wasting water like crazy!  Do your business and get out.  You should be able to clean yourself and shave if necessary in 10 minutes or less.  If you are spending more than that in the shower, you are simply letting your hard earned money go down the drain.  Treat yourself to a nice hot bath once a month and soak and the water you save timing your showers will fill the tub and then some!

If you are on a city/county sewer system, your water bill will double because that is how they base the sewer charges.  So taking that long shower or letting the faucet run while you brush your teeth is actually costing your twice!  Think about it.  See dollar signs when you turn on a faucet!   Simply by being more conscious of the amount of water you are using and/or wasting can really add up!

CABLE/INTERNET

Just like cell phones, cable and internet providers require you to sign a contract.  Usually the longer the contract, the more “incentives” you get.  Be sure to do your math!  What seems like a great deal, more often than not will be a huge money maker for them and a big loss for you!  Shop around and get prices and plans for all of them.  Sit down and make a list of each.  Compare the pros and cons of each plan.  Make sure you get the fine print.  Many will give you a great deal, $19.99 a month…however that rate only applies to the first three or four months and then the rate shoots up to $59.99 and you are stuck because you signed a two year contract.

Also, the extra’s that they offer you FREE, are not free for long.  Typically it is an HBO, Cinemax or Showtime type bundle that gives you one month free.  That is great, however, YOU HAVE TO CALL AND CANCEL IT before the next billing cycle, or you will be charged full price for those premium services.  That can more than double your bill.

Also, ask about bundles for combination internet and cable.  Most offer both and if you have both you will receive a discount.

Be realistic about your needs and your budget.  Unless you spend all your time watching HBO or Cinemax, they really are not worth the price.  You could rent the movies you actually want to watch much cheaper than the monthly cost for these services.  Same thing goes for you sports fans paying mega bucks for NFL Sunday Ticket.  You could go to a local bar that has the ticket and watch the game for the price of a few beers.  Again, be realistic, don’t spend what you don’t have and don’t spend more than you truly need.

Get the most basic of packages first.  Wait a month or two and see what you truly are missing and can’t live without.  Then add just those services.

Last but not least, set a reminder for yourself in your email calendar or smartphone to check pricing around the time your contract expires.  If you sign a two year contract, set a reminder for 23 months and start shopping.  Call all the competition, make a list and check for the best deal.  Then call your current company and threaten to disconnect and go with the competition if they don’t match a plan you feel is a better deal.  You will be amazed, but they usually will do it, just to keep you as a customer.  If they don’t, then go with the competition and set another reminder a month before your contract with them expires.  It really does pay to shop around.  It takes a few phone calls and a little of your time, but saving hundreds of dollars over a 2 year contract is well worth an hour or so of your time.

Electric/Heat/Air Conditioning

Did you know that a ceiling fan uses approximately $10 worth of electricity a month?  While they do circulate the air, unless they have a built in timer, shut them off when you are not in the room.  We have one in our dining room that turns itself off when the temperature reaches 77 degrees.  We have three others that are only used when we are in the room.  So we can save just by remembering to shut off the fans when we go to work or go to another room.  The first thing I do in the morning when I get up is shut off the fan in the bedroom.  It doesn’t go back on until we go to bed.  Every little thing saves a little bit and those little bits add up to a lot.

Set your thermostat for 77 degrees in the summer and 72 in the winter.  You will be amazed at how little you notice a few degrees, but very grateful for the savings.  It is actually easier for your air conditioner or heater to remain at a constant temperature than it is to try to cool off a hot house or warm a cold one.  Make sure you clean your intake filters at least once a month.  A dirty filter will make the unit work much harder and use a lot more electricity!

 

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