January 25, 2008
We’ve all felt first-hand the painful impact that record oil prices have had on home heating and driving expenses this winter. You’ve also likely seen price hikes on just about everything else as fuel-related shipping and manufacturing cost increases get passed along to consumers.
Although you may not be able to personally influence the global supply and cost of oil, there are many steps you can take to lessen your own home energy expenditures. For example:
Turn down the heat. You can trim your heating bill by 3 to 5 percent for every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter (or raise it in summer). Try lowering it further when you go to bed for even bigger savings.
Insulate your home. Up to 30 percent of heated or cooled air can be lost through leaks, so add weather stripping around windows and doors and caulking around ducts, plumbing bypasses and other wall, floor and ceiling openings. Consult a contractor about insulating your attic, exterior walls, floors and crawl spaces.
Lower the water temperature. Heating water is the third-largest home energy expense, after heating/air conditioning and electrical appliances. Try lowering your water heater temperature to 120° F or lower - no sense running scalding tap water 24 hours a day. Just make sure your dishwasher’s manual says that’s okay. Many hot water heaters work more efficiently with insulating blankets; however, be sure not to cover the thermostat.
Other energy-saving tips:
Practical Money Skills for Life (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/budgeting), a free personal financial management site created by Visa, offers a host of other money-saving budgeting tips.
Remember, besides being good for the environment, the less energy you use the lower your utility bills will be.
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