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Now that the summer heat is in the rearview mirror and the air conditioners have all gone quiet, most of America is enjoying a respite from high peak-season utility bills.
But that won’t last and they should be prepared for the high cost of heating in the winter.
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“In anticipation of rising energy bills, consumers should consider budgeting for this factor in their financial planning ahead of actual increases,” said Damian Serwin, budgeting expert and co-founder of Why Budgeting. “What might be a good idea is to factor in the increase in bills before the actual increases to save money and offset the increase in the winter months.”
Good ideas, indeed, but what if you’d rather reduce your utility bills than just save for their inevitable seasonal increase?
Here are five realistic upgrades that can add up to a savings of over $100 per month — $104, to be exact — for four-figure annual savings.
- Savings: Up to $50 per month
Amanda Freick, Altruistic’s Chief Revenue Officer, is a seasoned electric utility engineer who has fielded countless calls from customers looking to lower their monthly bills. She recommends calling your energy provider or searching online for your rate and tariff.
Some utilities allow their customers to change their rates – and you might be able to save real money by accepting the offer.
“For example, in 2020 I went from a standard rate, which was a fixed cost per kWh, to a TOU, or time-of-use rate,” Freick said. “Time-of-use tariffs encourage consumers to use less electricity during peak hours. By switching to the TOU rate and scheduling high-drain activities — such as running pool pumps and doing laundry — for the TOU times that had the lowest rate, I was able to save up to $50 per month.
Visit the Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Evaluating Your Utility Rate Options” page to learn more, but different utilities have different policies and rules. Con Edison in New York, for example, allows customers to upgrade to TOU, but it requires them to stay on that rate for at least a year. XcelEnergy in Colorado will gradually move all of its customers to TOU over the next three years.
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Install LEDs to reduce your lighting bill
According to the DOE’s Energy Saver Program, lighting accounts for 15% of a typical household’s energy costs — and what you put in those outlets matters.
“LED lighting uses 90% less energy than a standard conventional halogen bulb,” said Steven MacDonald, energy-efficient lighting expert and managing director of Scotlight Direct. “Many owners have not made the switch to LEDs or have only partially made the switch. For every bulb you switch to LED, you save $3 to $4 on your annual energy bill. »
According to the DOE’s EnergyStar program, an average household uses 50 light bulbs. At the top of MacDonald’s calculations, that’s an average of $200 in savings per year. But Energy Saver estimates the average household can do even better and save $225 by switching to LEDs, or $18.75 per month.
Forbes estimates that installing attic insulation requires an investment of between $1 and $7 per square foot – and in terms of long-term bill reduction, it may be the best money you will ever have. spent on your home.
“The first thing you need to do that will likely have the biggest impact on your gas and electric bill is insulation,” said Wesley Williams, real estate investor and founder of OC Real Estate LLC. “Make sure you have good insulation, especially in your attic. It’s amazing how much heat or coolness you’ll lose through your roof if you don’t insulate it well.
According to EnergyStar, “homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air-sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics , floors over crawl spaces and the accessible edge of the basement. joists. »
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average residential energy bill is $121 per month. Based on the DOE’s estimate of 11%, this represents savings of $13.31 per month or $159.72 per year.
Block exhaust routes for hot and cold air
Heat transfer drains your checking account the most above your cap, but you’re probably also losing money to the gaps all around you.
“The next thing to do is check your doors and windows and make sure they’re properly sealed around the edges,” Williams said. “Over time, everything slowly expands and contracts, leaving voids.”
EnergyStar estimates that simple, cost-effective remedies like caulking and weatherstripping can result in savings of 10% on total energy costs, which, as noted, amount to approximately $121 per month, so this decision would represent a savings of $12.10 per month.
Install a smart thermostat
Converting to a modern, efficient air conditioning system is a major home renovation that requires a budget — and usually a loan. If you’re not ready for all that, there’s a much easier way to reduce high heating and cooling bills.
“One of the easiest and most effective ways is to install a programmable thermostat,” said Lauren Davis, founder of the Moolah Project. “It will allow you to automatically raise or lower the temperature of your home, which can save you a lot of money on heating and cooling costs. You can save at least 10% of your total energy bill simply by making this one change.”
EnergyStar says it’s more like 8% – but even that lower percentage of the EIA’s average estimated $121 monthly bill translates to savings of $9.68.
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