Do you blow a fuse every time you pay your monthly utility bill? Is the high cost of energy short-circuiting your budget? Well, you're not alone. Every year the average American household spends close to $1,500 on their utility bills, and incredibly, most of that money is wasted. If your utility bill is going through the roof and taking you with it then you are house broke and most likely, in a financial fix. Don't be that guy. Here are a few simple home improvement tips that can help you renovate your wallet:
DOWN THE DRAIN
*Water heating is the third highest energy expense in the average American's home. Rather than washing clothes in hot water, use cooler water and less of it. Unless heavily stained, clothes can effectively be cleaned with cooler water.
*Install aerating low-flow faucets and showerheads in your bathrooms and kitchen. They can lower the cost of water heating by as much as 50 percent.
*Resist the urge to rinse off dishes before putting them in the dishwasher; it takes more water to hand-wash dishes than to run the dishwasher.
*Lower the temperature of your water heater. Many water heaters come factory-set at temperatures higher than necessary. Most can effectively perform at a setting of 115 F.
*Space heating and the A/C account for more than 50 percent of your home's energy bill. Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature during the winter months and the highest comfortable temperature during the summer months.
*Replace air filters as directed. Clean filters result in your heating and cooling systems working more efficiently.
*Replace standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. They are up to four-times more energy efficient and provide the same amount of lighting. They also last longer.
*Defrost your freezer regularly. Don't let frost to build-up more than one-fourth of an inch and you will increase the energy efficiency of the unit.
*Landscaping can cut down on energy costs. Strategically placed trees can deflect unwanted sunlight and decrease unnecessary build-up of heat within your home during the daytime. Vines, when grown along houses or windows, can also shade and cool.
*Plant shrubs and trees alongside your home. In windy areas, these plants can act as a windbreak and lower the wind chill near your home, also lowering the cost of heating you will need to spend inside.
*Water your lawn once every three to five days in spring, once every five to seven days in summer, and once every 10 to 14 days in winter. Watering more often is a waste.
*Water your lawn and plants early in the morning while the evaporation rate is low. This will prevent you from having to water more often because the plants will be able to fully absorb the moisture.
Sources: The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy; The Florida Department of Environmental Protection; The California Energy Commission
First Aid for Your Wallet is written by Flagler College's NationalChampion Students In Free Enterprise organization. Questions orcomments? Contact DWebb@flagler.edu.
? 2006 Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL