Reducing Your Monthly Energy Costs is Easier Than You Might Think

Save money on utility billsThe U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average U.S. household spends around $1,600 annually on utilities. This is the just average, and your actual costs may well be much higher depending on a number of factors, including your home’s age, size and construction type, the area of the country in which you live, and your personal preferences and habits.

Most Americans find that their household energy consumption increases during the spring and summer and decreases during the fall and winter months.  With energy prices continually on the rise, cutting consumption makes sense – especially as we enter the warmer months.

In this series, we’ll be discussing 10 simple things any homeowner can do to reduce their energy consumption and costs. In this post, we’ll cover the first three tips.

Proper Use of Your Thermostat

Your heating and air conditioning system is the single biggest consumer of energy; accounting for up to 40 percent of your monthly energy costs.

The simplest way to manage your energy usage is by using your thermostat properly. The Department of Energy recommends setting your air conditioning unit to no lower than 74 degrees during the warmer months and your furnace to no higher than 68 degrees in the fall and winter.

As we’ve discussed in other posts, programmable thermostats let you adjust the temperature of your home to use less energy when your home is unoccupied for extended periods of time. This is especially helpful during the summer months when we tend to spend more time outdoors and traveling.

Use of Ceiling Fans

Properly used ceiling fans can also help reduce your energy usage and costs. During the warmer months, be sure your ceiling fans are set to spin counter-clockwise. This will cause them to pull warmer air toward the ceiling and away from the living area. During the cooler months, set your ceiling fans to spin clockwise. This will draw warm air downward and help regulate the temperature of your living spaces.

Preventing Phantom Power Draw

Did you know that your home electronics consume energy even when they’re turned off? This is known as phantom power draw, and the average American home contains 40 electronic devices that continuously draw electrical current.  These include plasma, LCD and LED televisions, gaming consoles, computers, cell phone chargers, fax machines, printers, digital cable and satellite boxes, cordless phones and surge protectors, among others.

The best way to prevent these devices from wasting energy is by unplugging them when they’re not in use, or connecting them to smart power strips which can be completely turned off.  You should also use the power management settings on your home computers to minimize power consumption when they’re not being used.

In our next post, we’ll discuss three more energy saving tactics that can help reduce your monthly utility bills.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /