Simple Ways to Reduce Your Energy Costs

In today’s tough economy, just about everybody is looking for ways to cut costs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average American family now spends about $1,600 each year on gas and electric utilities – and that’s just the estimated average. Many families spend far more on their monthly utilities.

Here are some simple ways to reduce your energy consumption, thereby reducing your monthly utility costs.

If you have ceiling fans use them, and use them properly.  Ceiling fans should be set to rotate clockwise during the winter months. This will allow them to pull warmer air down from the ceiling into the living area.  In warmer months, they should be set to spin counter-clockwise so they pull warmer air away from the living area.

Programmable thermostats allow you to schedule when, and for how long, your heating and air conditioning unit runs.  The DOE recommends setting your thermostat to a minimum of 74 degrees during the warmer months, and 68 degrees or lower during colder months. A programmable thermostat will allow you to adjust the settings so that your unit runs less during times when the home is unoccupied for extended periods of time.  The DOE estimates that a properly programmed digital programmable thermostat will save you anywhere from 5% to 15% on your monthly utility bills.

Considering purchasing a new refrigerator, television or air conditioner?  Remember that Energy Star certified electrical equipment and appliances may cost a little more initially, but the higher initial cost is offset by energy savings.

Ever wonder why your electric meter spins even when everything in your home is turned off? All electrical appliances draw a small amount of current even when they’re turned off.  In fact, some LCD and plasma screen televisions draw as much as 400 watts when they’re turned off. To prevent wasting energy and money, consider using a surge protector with an I/O switch that can be turned off when your electronics are not being used, or simply unplug them from the wall outlet when they’re not in use.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your utility costs is by replacing your existing incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs. According to General Electric, replacing a 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will save you $30 over the life of the bulb.

Heating and cooling typically account for a large percentage of the monthly energy usage for most families. Annual heating and air conditioning inspections are an easy and economical way to ensure your system is operating at peak efficiency.

Have other energy-saving, money-saving tips you’d like to share?  Please post a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts.