9 Easy Ways to Cut Your Electric Bill by up to $750

With just a few simple adjustments, you can plug into big savings on your annual utility spending.

We all want to save energy and money, right? But it’s not always so easy — perhaps you don’t have the time for a home energy audit, or maybe there simply isn’t room in the budget for that energy-saving appliance you want.

No worries! Here are some quick and easy ways to reduce your home energy usage right now.

Reduce hot water usage

Don’t worry — you don’t have to take a low-flow shower! But heating up hot water does require energy, so take the simple and painless route:

  • Adjust the water heater’s temperature. Lower your water heater to 120 degrees F (49 degrees C). An added bonus — you’ll lower the risk of scalding accidents.

  • Don’t overuse the dishwasher. Try to run your dishwasher only once a day or when it’s completely full. See if your utility company offers savings for running appliances at off-peak times.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. Most modern detergents clean clothes very well with cold water. If you have items that you really need to wash in hot water, save them up and do one hot load every few weeks.

Projected savings: Up to $250 per year, depending on the number of people in your home.

Turn it off

Little things add up! An easy way to save money on your energy bill is turning off the lights, electronics, and other energy users when you’re not using them.

  • Leave a room, switch lights off. Make a habit of turning off everything in the room when you leave it — the TV, lights, your computer, etc.
  • Get the kids involved. Make a game out of turning off the lights instead of constantly reminding them to do it. Offer some sort of small, nonmonetary reward for remembering to turn off their bedroom lights for a week.
  • Install countdown timer light switches. For intermittently used rooms, such as the bathroom or laundry room, install a countdown timer light switch that will turn off the lights after a specified period, so you don’t ever have to worry about it.

Projected savings: Between $100-$300 per year, depending on the number of people and rooms in your home.

Heating and cooling bill savings

Generally speaking, the furnace and air-conditioner are the big energy hogs in your home. Here are some easy ways to reduce your dependence on them — and save money!

  • Use windows strategically. Install heavy drapes or blinds on windows located in sunny areas of your home. Open the blinds on cold days to take advantage of the sun’s warmth, and close them on warm days to block out the sun.
  • Install ceiling fans. This one takes a bit more effort than the others, but the payoff can be quite large. Run ceiling fans counterclockwise or downward during the summer to force cool air down into the room. Run them clockwise and upward in the winter to better distribute the warm air.

  • Adjust the thermostat. Yes, this sounds obvious, but one of the best ways to save on heating and cooling bills is simply lowering the thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer! A programmable thermostat is ideal, but you can save money even with a traditional thermostat. In winter, lower your thermostat by 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours — when you leave for work, before you go to bed, or both — then raise it when you’re back.  If you have air-conditioning, do this in reverse come summer.

Projected savings: From 10-30 percent on your heating and cooling bills each year.

Saving energy doesn’t have to be a chore. With some very simple lifestyle changes, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save big!


Posted by Jane Drill on Zillow

7 Ways To Heat Your Apartment Without Electricity

Try these creative ways to heat your space, all without using electricity.

Whether you’re in the middle of a blizzard sans electricity or you’re trying to save some cash this winter, it’s wise to have an alternate heat source for those frigid days. Instead of reaching for the thermostat, warm up with these creative, no-power heating solutions.

Use our tricks and tips to keep that Boston, MA, apartment for rent warm this winter; your bank account will thank you come spring.

1. Get fired up

Does your apartment have a fireplace? Whether it operates on gas or good old-fashioned wood, fireplaces can be energy-efficient heaters. If you have a gas insert, check to see if it’s a direct-vent, vent-free, or B-vent unit. Direct-vent inserts can offer more heat, while B-vents generally push any warmth out of the home. Vent-free gas fireplaces are the most efficient. Although not all states permit vent-free inserts for use in apartments, ask your landlord what type of gas fireplace you have to determine its heating potential.

Does your rental have a wood stove? Rather than building a roaring fire, concentrate on building a constant, slow-burning flame for the most heat generation. According to the Wood Heat Organization (WHO), circulating the heat with a ceiling fan regardless of its placement within the room will help disperse the air and keep your space warmer. (Some wood stove inserts include a built-in blower.) The WHO also suggests using the driest wood available, as it burns 25% more efficiently, ignites faster, and smokes less.

While it’s tempting to rest your cold feet close to the heat, always be sure to put the screen in place and keep safely back from the flames. And if you have a traditional fireplace, close the flue damper or get a chimney balloon when it’s not in use to prevent warm air from escaping.

2. Bundle up

Instead of cranking the thermostat to warm up, try warming yourself instead. Keeping your whole body covered is the best way to prevent heat loss. It’s an old wives’ tale that we lose the majority of our body heat through our head. The truth is, we experience heat loss throughout our entire body.

Keep your feet warm with cozy slippers and wear a knit hat — even indoors! Be sure your hat covers your ears; they’re thin but have large surface areas and can lose heat easily. Warm yourself from the inside out by breathing through your nose; doing so warms the cold air to body temperature before it arrives in your lungs.

3. Try thermal curtains

Whether you have double-pane windows or the dreaded single-pane, all windows are a source of heat loss. To conserve energy, choose window treatments that offer aesthetics as well as function. Heavy curtains with a thermal lining can drastically reduce heat loss. For additional savings, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests hanging the curtains as close to the window as possible and securing them at the bottom and sides to reduce the energy loss by 25%. If you’re a DIY warrior, this project using caulk will seal off the pesky leaks and help keep you warm and toasty.

4. Seal windows with plastic

Check with your landlord before tackling this project, especially if you want to get your entire security deposit back. Head to the local hardware store and get an inexpensive plastic window-insulator kit. Use your hair dryer to install it and create an insulating barrier you can take down in the spring. The clear plastic covering helps prevent heat from escaping through window crevices, prevents frost buildup, and reduces condensation.

5. Use a draft stopper

We tend to spend the majority of our time in the main part of our apartment — the kitchen and living rooms. Rather than trying to heat your whole home, shut the doors; that will help keep the room that you’re currently in feeling warmer. To ensure that cold air doesn’t seep in, purchase a door draft snake or plastic draft stopper. You can make a draft snake yourself using scrap fabric and sand.

6. Invest in a rug (and liner)

There’s nothing worse than waking up on a chilly morning and plopping your feet on a cold, bare floor. To make your space more comfy and warm, lay down a plush area rug. Not only will a large rug make your room feel cozier, but it also will help mitigate any cold air coming through cracks or gaps in the flooring. Choose a thick felt rug liner — it’ll make your rug even plusher and add extra insulation.

7. Raise your body temperature

When in doubt, sweat it out. There’s no better way to get warm than to move your body. Even in a small space there are plenty of ways to raise your heart rate and generate some heat. Push back the coffee table, improvise some weights (canned goods or bottled water will work!), and prepare to sweat. If you need some quick home workouts, YouTube is your best friend.

Posted by Robyn Woodman on Trulia