Save Money On Your Electric Bill

If you're sick of paying high electric bills, take hope: there are plenty of ways to cut the costs without taking too much of your time or energy.

If you're sick of paying high electric bills, there's hope: there are plenty of "little things" that can add up to big savings. Most of these don't require much time or effort, and you can easily get into the habit of doing them. In other words: this won't hurt much.

One of the easiest things to do is get yourself into the habit of turning off appliances and lights that aren't in use. This seems obvious, but take an inventory of your house one night. Are the kids leaving the lights on even when they aren't in the room? Is someone taking off to run errands while the TV continues playing in the living room?

While you're checking out light usage, look at the wattage of the bulbs you use in the lamps and overhead lights. You can probably go down a few watts: say, from 75 to 60.

You can also use floor lamps instead of the overhead lights when you're working in one area (reading in bed, for example, or watching television).

Find a comfortable temperature for the thermostat or air conditioner. If you keep the house at a little over 70 degrees year-round, you'll save a significant amount of money. The exact figure depends on many factors, including the size of your home and the state of your heating/cooling units. (The newer they are, the more efficient they'll be.)

You might have to deal with complaints from chillly family members during winter months, but that can be solved with a sweatshirt or other warm clothing. It doesn't have to feel like Hades in the living room to be comfortable.

You can also supplement central heating with a wood-burning stove or fireplace.

Keep unused rooms sealed off. If your kids are at school during the day, close their bedroom doors. Don't leave the basement door open. The more square footage you heat or cool, the higher your bill.

Keep an eye out for "energy suckers" - appliances that draw power even when they aren't in use. This can include computers, television sets, and video-game systems. In many cases, it doesn't take much effort to unplug these things - especially if you're not planning on using them for awhile. (Do you really want to use electricity while you're on a week-long vacation?)

Use appliances efficiently. Don't take an hour in the shower. Only wash and dry full loads of clothing. Use the microwave or a toaster oven to reheat foods instead of cranking up the stove. (Unless, of course, you use propane.)

Speaking of propane: do a cost breakdown to determine if that will be cheaper for your heating, cooking, or both. Switching to propane will lower your electric bill, but is it worth the investment? In many cases, it is.

There are also more costly things that will save money in the long run. In many cases, they're worth the investment - and the labor.

Install energy-efficient windows. These multiple-paned systems keep climate-controlled air inside longer, which makes your system work less. They also offer better soundproofing so that you don't find yourself wide awake at three in the morning because the neighbor's teenager is drag-racing up and down the street.

Check your house's insulation to be sure that it's thick enough. This is especially helpful if your house is a few decades old. There are new-generation insulations on the market that are much more efficient than the stuff they used that long ago. In fact, much of it isn't even made of fiberglass anymore - they're using composite materials that are applied while wet so as to fill in every nook and cranny in the attic or walls.

These suggestions could earn a tax break. Check with the IRS to find out if you qualify, and don't forget to save all of your receipts.

Following these suggestions will add up to big savings in the long run. It may not look like so much when you get the first bill after you make the changes, but it'll add up in the long run - and your checking account will be happier for it.

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