Cut Down on Your Power Bill, Not Your Budget

One of the most dreaded bills that comes every month is the power bill. It can be a real downer when it comes time to pay bills, and with the recent economic down-turn most people are finding that that monthly letter from the power company is getting heftier and heftier. However, it doesn't have to be this way, there are actually several different things that you can do every day to take a little off your power bill each month. Here are a few of these ideas, try them out and see what they can do for you.

Let's shed some light on the subject

Though it may not seem like much, changing the kind of light bulbs you use to light your home can have a dramatic effect on your energy usage. Instead of buying the cheapest light bulb in the store next time you are there, look for ones that are Energy Star Certified, or at least designed for energy efficiency. They may cost a little more upfront, but the savings will be more than worth it. Energy Star (the organization that inspects appliances and electronics to rate their energy efficiency) states that one Energy Star Certified Light bulb can save you $30 - $80 over the life of the light bulb. (Click here for more information.)

Turning off the lights when you leave a room can also do a lot for energy conservation. There are many times when people walk out of a room and forget to turn the lights off just to forget about them. Though it may not seem like a lot to turn the lights off when you leave a room, you may be surprised how it adds up on your bill.

Don't let your laundry hang you out to dry when it comes to your bill

Drying, sometimes, takes up more energy than washing does-- for both laundry and dishes. The dishwasher and the dryer are both made to dry your things quickly, which is convenient, but that means there are massive amounts of hot air that is being used with every load. If you don't need your plates as soon as possible, maybe try half drying them in the machine and then letting them air dry the rest of the way. Clothes and dish drying racks are sold at most department stores for a reasonable price, which could be an investment well spent in the long run.

Are your appliances really off?

Much like the concept of turning off lights when you aren't home or in a room, turning off and unplugging your electrical items can help reduce the amount of energy that gets wasted. For instance, the internet modem doesn't need to be on while you are out of town on a business trip, nor do the alarm clocks. These are more dramatic examples, but if you are serious about cutting your electricity costs, start turning everything off when you don't need it.

However, there are some appliances that, even when they are shut off, continue to suck energy from the outlet. Some of these can be computers, televisions, microwaves, etc. Some of these appliances may not even be obvious, so, if you really want to waste zero electricity, unplug everything when it isn't in use, that way is the only sure-fire way to know that they are off. This can be a little extreme, however. It's best to analyze your own situation to find what is most necessary or beneficial for you.

Does your heating bill have you sweating?

This section applies to both homes with gas heating and ones with electric heating. Saving money on heating and cooling is essentially the same no matter the type of heating you have. The first suggestion would be to get a programmable thermostat. These nifty little things allow you to set the temperature of your home ahead of time so it isn't heating or cooling it at a temperature as extreme as when you are home. This also allows you the comfort of having your home the perfect temperature right when you get home.

Another thing that may be overlooked when it comes to conserving your atmospheric preferences is the possibility of the controlled air leaking out of the house. This can be remedied with some caulking and a roll of self-adhesive weather stripping (depending on where the air is leaking out). If it is around the perimeter of a door or window, use the weather stripping so that when they are closed, no air can escape. If it is the gaps around the window or door frame (the nonmoving parts) use some caulking to seal them right up. Once you have sealed up as much as you can, you won't have to worry about losing any of your hot or cold air out.

It's time to raise the roof on savings!

Most homes here in Boise are black or gray or some other dark color. Because these darker colors absorb heat, some people have started using lighter colors on their roofs to prevent solar heat from raising the cost of cooling. Whether you decide to re-shingle it or just paint the whole thing, a lighter color will deflect much of the sun's natural heat, keeping you nice and cool. Consult with the experts at your local hardware store before you start doing any sort of roof painting or re-shingling; and maybe consider getting a professional to help you-- just in case.

Saving money can sometimes be serious business. When done correctly, you can save yourself quite a lot of money. If these ideas don't work for you, keep searching until you find what your home needs. Check online, or even call your local power company for suggestions.