If you’re feeling the financial crunch right now, you’re not alone. Ever since inflation reached a record high of 9.1% this past summer (the highest it’s been in 40 years), life has started to feel pretty unaffordable.
Add the double-whammy of increased energy prices and the oncoming holiday season, and it’s gearing up to be an expensive end to 2022. And a wallet-busting new year as well.
It’s little wonder that everyone seems to be trying to save money in their home. So we spoke to home and energy experts across the country to get their insider tips for the best ways to save on basic living expenses each month. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Get a home energy audit
If you want to understand where your hard-earned dollars are going each month, one of the best things you can do is get an energy audit.
“Getting a home energy audit can help you identify energy efficiency upgrades you can make in your home,” says renewable energy expert Alan Duncan, of Solar Panels Network USA. “This can save you money on your energy bill in the long run.”
According to Energy.gov, making energy efficiency upgrades after an audit can save you anywhere between 5% and 30% on your monthly bill.
2. Winterize rooms you aren’t using
If you live in a big house (or even a normal-size one with a weird layout), then you might just consider winterizing any parts of the home you don’t plan on using—since this can save you some money when it comes to heating bills.
“I’m always surprised by how many people heat rooms or sections of their home that they never use or go into during colder months,” says Doug Greene of Signature Properties. “Be thoughtful about spaces like guest rooms where you can probably leave it unheated for longer durations.”
Set up a minimum temperature on your thermostat (to avoid freezing pipes), or add some extra insulation and opt to leave your heat off entirely in those unused spaces.
3. Lower your water heater temperature
Another unexpected way to save this winter? By lowering your water heater temperature.
“In hotter climates, air conditioning may be the biggest expense, and in colder ones, electric heating may come in first,” says Mark Dawson, president and CEO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. “But no matter what climate you live in, electric water heaters are likely to come in third for electricity consumption.”
All heat-producing electrical appliances use tons of electricity, but water heaters are especially busy because we use hot water throughout the day for bathing, dishes, laundry, and other needs.
To help lower your bill, Dawson recommends lowering the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to capture savings without sacrificing hot showers.
4. Put something in your toilet’s fill tank
Nope, this isn’t a prank. Adding a placeholder to your toilet’s water tank (like a full plastic water bottle) can save you a pretty penny each month.
“It’s no secret that every flush comes with a cost,” says Kerry Sherin, consumer advocate at Ownerly. “With less room in the tank, it will be filled with less water and save you on your water bill.”
The average water bill costs up to $115 per month. And the average person uses around 88 gallons per day—plenty of which comes from flushing, with each flush being equivalent to 1.5 gallons. So anything you can do to offset your water usage is sure to result in savings.
5. Invest in power strips
If you’ve never considered the hidden cost of the energy vampires living in your home, now’s the time to get them under control with a few power strips.
“A bad habit many people have is leaving appliances or electronics plugged in when they’re not in use—which are known as energy vampires,” says Sherrin. “A power strip can help you save because of how easy it is to switch multiple items off at once.”
Turning off your energy-sucking devices could save you several hundred dollars a year.
6. Keep your freezer full
This might sound counterintuitive, but keeping your freezer (and fridge) full can actually help immensely when it comes to its cooling efficiency.
“With more cool items in a fridge or refrigerator, there will be more cool air circulating,” explains Sherrin. “This means the appliance won’t have to work as hard to stay cold inside, therefore saving on electricity and saving you money.”
7. Insulate your attic
Speaking of unused heat, many homeowners end up paying even more on heating costs due to poor insulation. And since hot air rises, your attic could be the main culprit.
“Adding insulation to your attic is an easy, low-cost way to increase your home’s comfort in winter and summer and help cut your energy costs by as much as 20%,” says Elyse Inglese of CertainTeed, manufacturer of sustainable building materials. “Since different climates have varying insulation needs, I also recommend using an insulation calculator tool to determine what’s best for your region.”
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