Below are a few money saving tips & tricks that most everyone can do to help reduce their electrical & water usage. Some of these items fall in the normal maintenance cycle, some are lifestyle changes, while others can be done once & basically forgotten about. If you are unsure on how to do an item, please contact a professional
Dryer Vents: Cleaning out your dryer hose yearly & making sure it is only as long as it needs to be will help your clothes dry faster & not put as much of a strain on the dryer. First, pull your dryer out from the wall, disconnect the hose from the dryer and vacuum it out. If you had a lot of slack in the hose after pulling it out, then trim the hose length so that it’s just long enough for you to pull the dryer a few feet out from the wall.
Refrigerator Coils: You should clean off the coils on your refrigerator at least twice a year. The dust that builds up on them makes it harder for the heat to dissipate which causes it to run harder than needed. While you are cleaning the coils, it would be a good time to change out the water filter on it – most filters are not effective after 6 months of use.
Microwave vs. Oven: If the food can be cooked in the microwave instead of in your oven, use the microwave, it consumes half the power & does not add unnecessary heat to the house.
Grilling vs. Oven: During the summer, it is best to use the grill outside to reduce the amount of heat you are introducing into the house. During the winter, after you shut the oven off, crack the oven door open for a bit to help heat the house
Time of Use Plan: If your electric company / co-op offers a time of use plan, consider changing over. By changing when you wash dishes, dry clothes, etc… you can cut those appliances electric usage costs in almost half. Use the delayed start option to run those appliances during the night or weekends for clothes washers, dryers, dishwashers, pool pumps, etc…
Heating & Cooling Systems
AC / Furnace Filters: The Filters need to be changed out every month, this helps the units run more efficiently & prevent pre-mature failure. The easiest way to remember this is to either specify a day (i.e. the 1st, 15th, etc…) or to change them on the first Monday, payday, or something similar each month
AC / Furnace Annual Checkups: While this is not a DIY task, each unit needs to be serviced yearly including the coils. To save money on this task, check with your Local Electric Provider for discounts, check with your normal HVAC company about maintenance programs, or schedule an appointment before the season starts. (i.e. late winter or early spring for the AC & late summer early fall for the Heater / Furnace)
Ductwork: If your ducts are leaking in unconditioned space, which is just money you are throwing away. There are numerous companies out there that will test your duct leakage & fix it. If you are handy & don’t mind crawling around in your crawl space or attic, you can fix & detect some of the major areas that might need fixing. Make sure that you either use the proper duct mastic or UL 181 Aluminum tape to seal the cracks & holes. (No regular duct tape is not the proper tape to use)
Fireplace: Make sure you close the damper to prevent the heated or cooled air from going up the chimney when it is not in use. There are also numerous products you can buy that will fit inside the door or below the damper to help cut down on the amount of conditioned air that still will escape to the outside. I prefer using a 1” thick piece of rigid foam that fits in the opening.
Fireplace / Chimney Sweeping: While this is also not a typical DIY task – this should also be done yearly by a Certified Chimney Sweep – to save money it should be completed during the off season, which runs from early spring to early fall when they have openings. This will help prevent soot & creosote from building up & causing a fire or blocking the airflow from other items attached to the fireplace.