Do you find that your electric and gas bills are burning up your wallet? Do you want to find ways to lower your electricity consumption? This article is designed to present you with many methods of lowering your energy bills. These methods I have done myself, with fantastic results. If generating your own power is not a possibility at the moment, the first thing you can begin doing is shopping around for great savings on gas and electric energy for those living in de-regulated states. There are many companies to choose from. Though the rates depend on your individual zip code location, I just signed up at a rate of 7.3 cents/kWh. The rates constantly change, however, at a few cents/kWh cheaper than what many are paying now, one’s electric bill can be a fraction of what it is currently. Even 2 cents less/kWh can mean you lowering your month’s electric bill by possibly 30% or more, and if you own a business, these savings could be quite substantial! A business that uses, say, 100,000 kWh a month, and its energy bill is normally $11,000 each month, can try to decrease their rate by a penny or two. This small change should save that business between $1,000 to $2,000 each month. It all depends on the fixed or variable plan that you choose. Keep in mind that different states have different regulations regarding surcharges and distribution fees of electric and gas energy. It is especially important now to lower your electric bill, since “Smart Meters” are being installed by your utility company, which will undoubtedly raise your bill. These digital meters cost a pretty penny, and guess who will be footing the bill for them? Certainly not the utility company. The meter charge will be tacked onto your bill’s “surcharges,” over a number of years until you pay it off. In addition, the older meters have a tendency to read less kWh than the new digital ones, so yes, your electric bill is going up whether you like it or not, unless you try to balance out that change by switching to another company. The way it works is the company purchases large amounts of energy from your utility provider, in advance. Since they buy so much of it, they get a special greatly reduced rate which they then pass on to you, the consumer. The company is making a profit, and you, the consumer, are getting the same energy that you were getting before, only paying less money for it. Next, make sure you turn off all lights that are not in use, and unplug appliances that are not being used. If you turn off your computer at night, unplug it too. Then change all the incandescent lightbulbs in the house to fluorescents and LED’s. This will immediately lower your electricity consumption. If the winter drafts are coming in through the recessed lighting, get from Home Depot, Lowes, or your local home supply store some sealed recessed lighting inserts that fit into the lighting canisters in the ceiling (Halo Air-Tite 6 inch Baffle Trim Model 30WATH). These inserts are easy to install yourself, form a tight seal at the base of the lightbulb, and are highly reflective to give off more light. After such an installation, you may notice your gas/electric bills a little smaller. Keep the thermostats a little bit warmer in the summertime, and a little bit cooler in the wintertime. Your body will quickly adjust to the new temperatures, and they will soon feel normal. In the summer, most heat gain will be coming in from the attic. The methods I used was to first install foil Radiant Barrier with a staple gun across the bottom of the rafters, leaving an air gap between the roof and the foil. Also leave an air space at the floor base and roof peak of the foil. The attic temperature at this point dropped from 130F to 117F. Then to get the attic ventilation working better, I opened 10 new soffit vents, and installed an awesome Attic Breeze 25 watt solar-powered attic fan, with two additional ones planned for the future. With the one Solar Attic Fan, the attic temperature dropped from 117 degrees F, to 112 degrees F. I installed this Attic Breeze, Texas made, solid solar attic fan on my roof. It is very heavy-duty metal, weighing some 35 pounds, is self flashing to prevent rain leakages, and features a solar panel that is removable if you wish to install the optional metal angle brackets as well under the solar panel. I set my angle for the hottest time of the summer, when the sun is high in the sky. I recommend getting it with the thermostat so that it’s off for the winter, and on for the summer daylight hours. I recommend to install 2 units for a two-story house, even though this is a higher wattage unit. To make it work effectively, you need to make sure all your soffit vents going to the attic are open, and add some more soffit vents if needed to draw more air in from outside. Our ridge vent didn’t seem to make much of a difference in the functionality of the fan, so if you have a ridge vent, don’t worry about it. Again, I recommend getting the pivoting brackets which can be installed up-down, or side to side depending on the Sun’s location, as well as the thermostat with the unit. It substantially helped to lower my summer attic temperature.
**Update 3/25/2014 Last week, I installed a second solar attic fan in the attic, and re-purposed our 2 old whirlybirds, putting them on the garage. At 4 pm on this sunny 75 degree day, the reading is 104 degrees in the garage attic with the whirlybirds, and 84 degrees in the house attic with the 2 solar fans, extra soffit vents, and radiant barrier. This really does work.
Then seal any air leakages coming from the ductwork. All these things you can do yourself if you are handy, and do not need to pay a professional to do them. Then, since our 50 gallon hot water heater tank had begun leaking, I began looking into a tankless water heater that uses gas, only on demand. Lowe’s had a 180,000 BTU Jacuzzi brand (aka Rinnai) tankless water heater in stock for $698, so I bought one with its extra components, and my neighbor who is a licensed plumber, installed it for me. The Jacuzzi Tankless Water Heater is as good as any other out there for a fraction of the price. The entire job cost about $1500-$2000 in the main unit, parts, and labor. The tankless water heater uses less gas and less electricity since it ignites only when you need it, and so these bills will be substantially lower, automatically. Plus, we no longer have 50 gallons of water sitting on top of us in the attic, waiting for a disaster to happen, and what’s best of all is the new tankless water heater cost about as much as a tanked water heater to replace. Other plumbers tried to sell me their tankless units for triple and quadruple the amount of money, or put in a tank again, which was completely out of the question. I found a licensed plumber who would do it my way, using my equipment that I bought, and that is the way I wanted it. Also try some of these additional tips:
- When purchasing new appliances, buy energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® labeled models.
- Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, and the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting.
- Replace old single-pane windows with new high performance double pane windows.
- Regularly clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters.
- Set the water heater thermostat to 140 degrees or “normal” if you have a dishwasher. Otherwise, set it to 120 degrees or “low.” Check your dishwasher to see if you can use 120 degree water.
- Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets, as a single dripping hot water faucet may waste 212 gallons of water each month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases gas or electric bills for heating the water.
- Wash only full loads of dishes in a dishwasher, and set the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean.
- Install shades, awnings, or sunscreens on windows to block summer light and heat. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms, and close shades to keep out any cold wind.
- Close the fireplace’s damper and glass doors when it is not being used. Try not to use the fireplace and central heating system at the same time.
- As I mentioned earlier, in warmer states, one can install Radiant Barrier on the ceiling of the attic. This thin, flexible shield of aluminum foil attached to a non-tearable fabric, is the very same substance that was designed by NASA, and used in astronaut’s suits to keep them warm in outer space, and will lower your electric and heating bills somewhat.
Following these basic energy saving guidelines will help your wallet and you can feel good about yourself that you have contributed to the environment by saving energy.
If you like this article, check out my money making techniques too on my home page– stuff they probably never taught you in school.
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