The 2011 Farmers' Almanac is proving itself right once again, having predicted a varied winter that includes especially cold temps from Ohio eastward, and a lot of snow in the central states (the Pacific Coast lucks out with a mild winter this year!). If this cold, snowy winter finds you turning up the heat and seeing the hike in your energy use and bills, these 7 steps to save $1,250 this winter might be particularly helpful. These tips are compliments of Consumer Reports.
To Save $550 on Heating & CoolingApproximately 40 percent of residential energy bills are spent heating or cooling a home. And if you've got leaks, they're contributing to your higher-than-expected energy bills.
- To eliminate leaks, use a combination of caulk, foam board, expandable sealant, and weather stripping.
- Check insulation levels to make sure that air isn't getting in or out via your attic. If the attic has less than 11 inches of fiberglass or rock wool, or less than 8 inches of cellulose, you should probably add more. (I've always heard that if you can see the floor rafters sticking up in your attic, you don't have enough insulation. You want it piled up enough so that it's higher than the rafters on the floor.)
- Here's something most people overlook: sealing ductwork. According to Consumer Reports, if you spend $500 to seal leaky or poorly insulated ducts that run through crawl spaces, attics, or other areas that aren't heated or cooled, you can save about $400 per year.
- Don't forget to install a programmable thermostat — they are worth every penny. Automatically lowering the heating-system 5 to 10 degrees at night and during the day when no one is home can shave up to 20 percent off your heating costs.
- Stopping drips is the fastest way to conserve, saving the average household $70 a year.
- Upgrade to water-efficient fixtures. Low-flow showerheads can save as much as $265 per year on water bills and low-flow toilets can save as much as $90 per year.
- By changing 10 bulbs and replacing three major appliances with energy-efficient models, you can save hundreds a year on your electricity bills. Also keep in mind the Energy Star rebates, which bring in more savings — we're hoping to get some big bucks back on the Energy Star-rated appliances we secured for our kitchen renovation.
To Save About $400 on Water ConsumptionYou don't have to be like a camel and not drink water to conserve and save. Here are some tips that everyone can put into practice.
To Save $300 on Electricity UseDon't worry — I won't suggest you sitting in the dark to save money on electricity. Here are some more reasonable ways to save.
If you've got other "I never knew that" ways to save money on heating, cooling, lighting and water, let us know.
Leah Ingram is the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less (Adams Media, 2010) and founder of the popular blog Suddenly Frugal.