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Cutting the Electric Bills

Aug 17, 2007
At certain times of year your electric bill can soar out of control. It might be in winter as you need to keep warm or in summer as you're trying to cool off, but many people want to pay less for their electricity. Finding ways to cut this isn't always easy.

One of the most obvious things to do is to get a programmable thermostat. This allows you to control which temperature will activate your heater or air conditioner at different parts of the day. You want one that can be set for morning, daytime, evening and nighttime temperatures. These will allow you to program it to go with the usual flow of your day.

If you can get used to setting the temperature a little lower in winter and higher in summer you'll also do better. This is relatively simple in winter, as you can just pile on an extra sweater when you're awake, and an extra blanket at night. It's a bit more challenging during the summertime, but you can get used to warmer temperatures if you don't spoil yourself with the air conditioner.

Take advantage of your ceiling fans. These do work winter and summer for circulating air. Contrary to popular belief, fans don't so much cool air as they do move it, which makes it feel cooler. If you put the ceiling fan into the reverse setting in the winter it will circulate the warm air which rises toward the ceiling.

Many dishwashers allow you to just drip dry the dishes instead of using heat on them.

Unplug electronics when they aren't in use, unless the clock needs to remain set. Most people can get away with unplugging the coffee pot as well as other electronics. Similarly, things that charge up such as electric toothbrushes can get by for several days or even weeks (depending on usage) before needing to be plugged back in. The charger keeps using electricity even when it's not actively charging. I plug mine in once a week for about a day and it does just fine.

As a matter of fact, if it's plugged in you can assume it's using electricity, even if only a tiny amount. Decide what feels reasonable to keep unplugged when not in use.

Switch your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. This can be a small savings, but not only do they use less electricity, they last longer than incandescent bulbs, enough so be to worth the extra cost in most cases. In some places the electric company may even provide free ones for you to try.

Do I need to state the obvious? Turn the extra lights off! Also turn off the computer and monitor when you don't need them on.

Keeping your refrigerator in good shape helps too. If you clean off the coils (either behind or beneath it), the refrigerator can operate more efficiently. Check the temperature settings. If you're keeping things colder than necessary you are using extra electricity.

Good insulation also helps. This includes the insulation of your window coverings. Heavy curtains do best for many people, as they help keep the heat in during the winter and out in summer. However, in some places you may be able to warm things up a little bit naturally by letting the sunlight in, even if things are slightly (not extremely) cool outside. Natural sunlight also means you don't have to turn the lights on.

With these tactics you can save some good money around the house. All it requires is a little effort and occasionally a little extra money spent to save in the long run.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://www.homewiththekids.com/blog/ about life as a stay at home mom. You can read more tips on saving money at her website.
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