How to Realistically Lower Your Utility Bills

Homebuilders are starting to pay more attention to sustainability in the construction process since they’re more mindful of eco-conscious buyers and the rising cost of utilities. For example, the use of cellular glass insulation is becoming more common in the building industry.

What about existing and especially older homes, however? How can you realistically lower your utility bills and be more sustainably minded?

The following are things to keep in mind.

Tips to Realistically Lower Your Energy Bills

After-the-Fact Insulation and General Efficiency

While you might not be able to re-insulate your entire house, there are still things you can do to make it more insulated overall.

First and foremost, the winter season is here, and you should go through your entire house to make sure there aren’t any air leaks in your windows and doors. You can use caulking and weatherproofing strips to combat them. You can also install a window insulation kit.

If you have thick, lined curtains, this will keep heat in your house. If you don’t want to buy new curtains, you can add material as a liner, like fleece. During the day, keep your curtains open in the winter, so the sun will warm them up. Then, as the sun is setting, close them to seal the heat in.

Some people use so-called door snakes, which are essentially just something made from materials like old socks that you put at the bottom of your door to block the cold air.

If you have a chimney, plug it in while it’s not in use. In one study, household heating bills were 30% higher when a house had a missing or broken fireplace damper. If your flue doesn’t properly seal, you’re potentially losing a lot of heat through the chimney. You can use a chimney balloon to seal it.

If you have an attic, take a look around. Heat can escape through the attic. You can add foil sheets to the rafters in the roof so that the heat is reflected and goes back into your living space.

Check the seals on your appliances, just like you do for your windows and doors because you want your cold air staying where it belongs.

Improve your heating and cooling efficiency by fixing leaky ductwork, and if you’re sleeping or not at home, set your thermostat back anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.

Regularly change your air filters because when an air conditioner or furnace has a dirty filter, it makes running your appliances more expensive. It also makes your home dustier. Make sure you’re changing your filters every 60-90 days.

clogged filter of AC

Water

The hot water you use in your home is likely your second-largest power-related expense, based on data from the Energy Department.

Taking shorter showers is simple enough, but there are other things you can do here as well. Replace your showerhead with one that’s efficient, and don’t wash clothes in hot water.

Adjust the temperature on your water heater since the default is typically 140 degrees. If you lower it to 120 degrees, you can reduce the costs of heating your water by as much as 10%. If you’re going out of town, turn the heater to the lowest possible setting.

Lighting and Power

Your electronics and lights make up around 11% of your energy usage.

The easiest fix here is swapping out your old lightbulbs for LED bulbs with an Energy Star label.

Dimmer switch installation isn’t necessarily as easy, but it can save you a lot. Dimmers let you adjust brightness as you need, so you’re saving electricity, and you’re also in control of the ambiance of your room.

Some electronics don’t ever actually power off. They might be in standby mode, so over time, they’re using a continuous trickle of electricity. You can use a smart power strip, which will cut the current if these devices aren’t being used.

You’ll often hear these devices referred to as vampire appliances. A vampire appliance can be anything that doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time yet is.

You can get a home energy monitor that will tell you more about the use of electricity in your home via a mobile app. These devices plug into your electrical panel. You can buy them online, and then it will show you how plugging in or unplugging different devices could impact how much wattage you’re using.

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Only run your appliances, like your dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, when they’re full. No matter how full they are, they’re using the same amount of energy, so wait until you can do a complete load.

Get An Energy Audit

If you’ve never done so, with the likely soaring costs of energy this winter, it could be a good time to consult a professional for an energy audit.

During an energy audit, the person conducting it may do blower door tests, which will check for drafts. They can also use infrared cameras and do other types of inspections to assess the house, the features, and your habits.

These take between one and five hours to complete and usually cost around $400 on average, although they can be more depending on where you live and how big your house is.

Some energy companies offer audits for free or at a discount to their customers, so before you pay, talk to your provider.

The Department of Energy says that if you make efficiency upgrades, it can save you between 5-30% on your bills.

Finally, look at the size of the machines you’re using for both work and entertainment. More people are doing more things at home than ever before, but this could be negatively affecting your energy usage.

Your desktop computer, for example, is going to use more energy than a laptop. Laptops are more efficient overall, and you can unplug them more easily when you’re not using them.

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Video game consoles are another example. They’re a lot less efficient than a smaller streaming device. Some people use video game consoles to stream TV shows and apps, but you should only use these consoles for games. Get a dedicated streaming device for TV because a console will use as much as 20 times more energy.

4 Ways To Pay Your Electricity Bill Effortlessly

Utilities like water and power can end up costing nearly as much as your rent or house payment in a bad month. Unfortunately, you can’t cut off your water service to save money the way you could cut the cable. Here are a few tips to tame your utility bills and make it easier to pay your electricity bill with ease.

1. Clean Up

Cleaning the coils on your refrigerator helps it work more efficiently. Cleaning the coils on your air conditioner can do the same, but your AC uses far more power than your fridge. Remove any debris from the air intakes, whether it is leaving piles up by the AC or the air vent to your furnace. Rinse the air filters for your room air filters, the air conditioner, and your dehumidifier.

2. Turn It Off

While the appliances that are sleeping may use less energy than when on, the reality is that they use almost as much power in standby as they do when active. The solution is to turn things off. Unless your game station is downloading updates, unplug it to save power. Turn off the TV instead of letting it sit in standby, or worse, use it as background noise.

When gadgets are fully charged, disconnect them from the charging station and turn off the charging station. If you can’t stand to turn off your computer, turn off the monitor instead. Turn off lights when they aren’t in use, and consider when you can utilize natural light instead. Don’t let appliances idly run while you’re busy. Get the clothes out of the dryer instead of letting it run every five minutes to prevent clothes from wrinkling.

Turn off the oven when you’re done with it. The same might be said for your pool pump or air filters. Does it need to be running? If not, consider turning it off for a while. Always aim to improve your habits and to acquire energy-saver appliances. Also, consider that you are still allowed to hire a better energy provider in case the current one is not the best fit regarding your lifestyle. For instance, there are plenty of options when it comes to the most suitable electric companies in dallas.

3. Track Energy Usage

You can get apps that report energy usage in your home. These apps can tap into your smart meter and tell you which appliances are consuming the most energy. If you can’t cut back on energy usage, you could get advice on how to shift energy usage in order to reduce your electric bill.

For example, running the clothes dryer at night may allow you to get utility discounts. One of the advantages of hydroelectric energy is that despite facing daily and seasonal variations, utility companies will still provide discounts when the demand for power is lower.

Set up the dishwasher to run a heavy load when you go to bed, and the cost per kilowatt maybe a third of what you’d pay if it ran during the day. You may also find that the AC is running heavily during the hottest part of the day.

Could you alter the thermal profile of your home so that it uses less energy while keeping you comfortable, such as not trying to keep the house at 65 when you’re at work? If you cannot get the house comfortable without the AC running full blast all the time, you may need to have the air conditioner repaired or replaced with a more powerful unit.

4. Check for Leaks

If you’ve ever heard the joke that you’re not heating the neighborhood, recognize that there is an element of truth to that joke. When you leave the door open while you’re bringing in groceries or getting the mail, you’re wasting the energy used to heat or cool that air. Gaps in your window frame and window stripping cost you the same way.

Leaks in your hot water heater waste both water and the energy used to heat it. Look for water leaks when you suspect them, too. Not only does this damage the structure of your home and wastewater, but damp insulation has a fraction of the thermal value of dry insulation. This is how a water leak could be contributing to your higher energy bills.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your energy bills and water bills without radically changing your lifestyle. Then you’ll be able to save the Earth’s resources and money at the same time. It is truly a win-win for everyone.

Beginners Guide for Always Having Hot Water in the Home

The search for a method to obtain fast hot water on demand is a constant quest for homeowners. Although it may not be as ubiquitous as something like the quest for life, the idea of immediate hot water has passed the minds of almost everyone who has ever seen water go down a drain when waiting for the water to heat up has thought about it at some point.

Having to wait for hot water when you need it is a big inconvenience. When you realize how much water will be wasted, it may even make you feel a bit guilty, though perhaps not guilty enough to take an ice-cold shower first thing in the morning.

Lucky for us, there are solutions!. A recirculating mechanism, a demand system, and water heaters in the tank or tankless configurations are the options for obtaining immediate hot water at the tap.

hot water guide

Why Does It Take So Much Time?

Understanding why it may take so long for the water that comes out of the tap to be heated will help us figure out how to obtain immediate hot water. While the age and efficiency of a water heater, as well as the amount of insulation in a home’s pipes all, play a role, the most crucial reason is relatively straightforward:

For the hot water to flow through the faucet, the cold water must first be drained out of the pipes.

Following its release from the heating system, the hot water must travel via a network of pipes before reaching the faucet. In front of the heated water seems to be the water cooling in the cold pipelines since the previous request for warm water.

In certain instances, the distance between the water heater and the faucet is longer than you think. Consider, for example, a typical two-story house in the state of Texas. Depending on how the water heater is placed, it may not take long for the water to get hot at the upstairs taps and showers to switch on. As a result, water may not reach the bathroom and kitchen showers and faucets downstairs for a minute or two. However, the water will eventually reach the desired location. It may take even longer during the winter since the initial gallon of water is chilled as it passes through the freezing pipe system.

What are Your Options?

Because each homeowner’s requirements vary, there is no “one size fits all” solution. However, there are four methods for getting immediate water from the faucet.

1. Water Heaters That Recirculate Water

Using a conventional tank heating system, turning the knob at the faucet begins the hot water traveling through the pipes. However, if the water in the pipes has already been heated by the time you turn the tap on, hot water is available at the tap instantly.

A recirculation system links the furthest point of a drainage system returning to a water heater using a plumbing pipe devoted to providing hot water just to that point. Because hot water is constantly cycling through the system, it is instantly accessible at every faucet.

The most significant advantage of the system is that hot water is available immediately at every shower head and faucet, which saves time and reduces water waste. In addition, recirculation systems are frequently triggered by a thermostat, which activates the mechanism when the water temperature falls below a certain threshold. These systems may also be triggered by a timer that can switch off the system during periods when the house is vacant or when hot water is not required, thus saving money on energy costs.

2. Systems for On-Demand Hot Water

When purchasing a new house, a buyer may request that the drainage system be built with a recirculation system, which necessitates installing a dedicated hot water loop. On the other hand, a recirculating system is impossible unless your home is already plumbed for it.

On-demand hot water systems are cold and hotlines connected to a pump located beneath the bath or kitchen faucet located the furthest away from the water heater. It is possible to have the chilly water that usually goes down the drain recirculated back to the water heaters by pressing a button. The water heater’s output is delivered to a faucet by pressing a button as well.

As soon as the water temperature at the furthest fixture reaches the desired temperature, the pump will shut off since the water pipes will have been filled with water.

3. Tankless point-of-use Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters like the Ecosmart Eco 11 this water heater only works when there is a need for hot water to be provided. However, unlike tank water heaters, which store hot water to be delivered to a faucet on demand, a tankless water heater begins operating immediately upon turning the tap on.

Cold water is conveyed via a conduit into a tankless water heater, which subsequently warms the water using an electric element or a gas burner.

In contrast to tank water heaters, tankless water heaters are assessed by the number of gallons of water they can heat in one minute rather than by storage capacity.

A tankless point-of-use water heater, like a traditional water heater with a tank, may deliver almost instantaneous hot water due to its proximity to the fixture that requires hot water. However, while tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than tank water heaters, it should be noted that they do not deliver hot water as fast as tank water heaters since there is a delay of several seconds between when the water is heated and when it reaches the desired temperature. Furthermore, all tankless point-of-use water heaters are electrical, which warms water at a slower rate than natural gas heaters.

4. Tank point-of-use Water Heaters

Exactly as the name implies, a point-of-use heating system provides a supply of hot water that is placed exceptionally near to where a sink, shower, or bathtub is located. It is common practice to utilize point-of-use water heaters to heat water at fixtures located a considerable distance away from the home’s tank water heater. Aside from that, they may be used to heat water at a location where instant hot water is most required or handy.

A tank point-of-use heating system is similar to a conventional whole-home tanks water heater, except that the water tank is much smaller in capacity. Tank point-of-use heating systems are available in various capacities ranging from 2.5-20 gallons, determined by the amount of hot water required. Their ability to provide rapid hot water is enhanced because they reduce the distance that water must travel before reaching its destination. Instant hot water saves a lot of time, water, and money by eliminating the need to wait.

Additional Suggestions

Water Pipes should be insulated

Insulate the area surrounding hot water pipes to prevent heat loss while the water is transported to the faucet. It will also help keep the pipelines warm for longer, which will be helpful the next time you want hot water.

Now, will this provide you with immediate hot water? No. However, it will save the amount of time you have to queue for hot water at the faucet, and it may help lower your energy costs.

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Preventative Maintenance

It is essential to maintain a heating system, whether a tank or a tankless one, to extend its life span. However, a hot water tank that is not operating at peak efficiency may need a longer time to provide the hot water that you require. For a tank water heater, which is still the most common type of water heater used by most American homeowners, annual upkeep that includes checking the anode rod, flushing the tank, and running tests on the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve helps to ensure the safety and efficiency of the water heater.

Consult a Professional Plumber

Installing a recirculation system should be done by a skilled plumbing professional. In addition, the other alternatives for obtaining immediate hot water at the tap all require specialized knowledge and equipment.

Always use a qualified plumbing expert to install your water heater since poorly placed water heaters may be hazardous and pose a risk of exploding or igniting a fire.

Conclusion

We have all experienced the frustration of waiting for hot water, whether at the sink or in the shower. Often, some delay is required, but when it occurs frequently enough, the time and stress accumulate. Point-of-use water heaters are available in both tank and tankless configurations. Both benefit from being located near the location where they deliver hot water, removing the need to wait for the water to travel via pipes to become heated.

Many alternatives are available if you are looking for methods to obtain immediate hot water from the faucet. Now that you have a better understanding of the options, speak with a certified plumbing expert who can assist you in determining which option is best for your house and perform a skilled installation that guarantees the safety of both you and the family.