Who would not want to save a dollar, two, or three on their utility bills? Retirement is often referred to as the ‘golden years’ but many would not describe it that way.
Recent research from the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at the University of Massachusetts Boston found that many older Americans don’t have enough money to get by.
Households are facing a steep increase in their energy prices this winter due to supply and demand on the global wholesale market. This has driven up the amount providers pay for gas–and that cost is now being passed onto the consumer.
What to do?
Utility bills are a major expense for every household. Fortunately, there are a number of money-saving tips that can help you trim expenses to make the most of your energy budget.
According to Energystar.gov, you can save up to $180 per year on heating and cooling costs by installing and using a quality programmable thermostat. A key to this is setting temperatures to recommended levels automatically, including at least eight-hour set points for times that everyone is out or likely to be sleeping.
Energystar.gov also advises installing separate thermostats for different heating and cooling zones. For example, if your family only goes upstairs when it’s time to go to sleep, keep the second-floor temperature higher or lower (depending on the season), with the thermostat set to a more comfortable level shortly before bedtime.
Sealing cracks around your windows and doors will keep the cold air where it belongs: outside. This can be done with weatherstripping, door draft stoppers, or window caulk, all of which can be bought for less than $20.
Bundle your water heater
Wrap your water heater in blankets can also help conserve energy by preventing the heater from losing its heat to the outside air.
Some modern tanks don’t need extra insulation, but experts suggest (carefully) touching the heater’s outside. If it’s hot, it could probably use a blanket or two.
You can add insulation in your attic, under the house, and around windows and doors. You can even buy foam insulation for around your wall outlets.
Sensible everyday energy-saving tips
Turn off the light when you leave a room.
Unplug appliances you don’t use all the time — like a portable heater, toaster, or any that have an “on” light.
Do the laundry during off-peak hours. As a rule-of-thumb, after 9 pm and before 9 am are off-peak in most situations. Prices are lower during the times of day when demand for electricity is generally lower and the cost is cheaper.
After you’ve recharged cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices overnight, avoid “vampire” power being wasted by unused chargers during the day.
Whether it’s leftovers, grilling, or working cold meals into the week, there are several ways to enjoy dinner without using your electricity.
Load the dishwasher after dinner, and wait until after 9 p.m. or the morning to run it.
When several family members all need showers, have them shower right after each other while the water in the pipes is already warmed up.
Use paper plates, bowls and cups, and disposable aluminum cooking trays to cut down on washing dishes.
Turn off lights when watching television, you end up with less glare and save on your electric bill.
Have a few candlelight dinners. Increase the romance and decrease the electric bill.
Don’t let the bathroom fan run for 10 or 15 minutes, just light a match. Bathroom odor is gone almost instantly.
Clean the lint trap in your dryer after every use, and remove any lint caught in the back of the door. Your clothes will not only dry faster, but your machine will last years longer and be cheaper to run.
The Gas Company will check your gas appliances for free. They can turn down the pilot lights if necessary and make any other adjustments for more efficient heating or cooking.
Turn the heat off at night and use blankets to keep warm. Comforters keep in more heat than blankets. Couples can cuddle to share body warmth.
Use your fireplace to heat your home whenever possible, and close the flue in between fires to keep cold air out.