A gas and electric bill can be a costly expense for many households and businesses. During the peaks of summer and winter the monthly utility bills can reflect prohibitive costs. By observing a few simple tips and guidelines, monthly savings can be achieved within the next billing cycle. Some of the most effective methods involve a reduction in the energy consumed by appliances and through household activities and repairs and installations around the house that produce better insulation.
Lowering the gas and electric bill can be as simple as a change in daily habits. During warmer months, closing blinds and curtains will prevent external heat from seeping in, while the gas and electric bill during winter will benefit from keeping blinds and curtains open at the warmest times of the day to allow heating by sunlight. On chilly days, rely on blankets and layers of clothing to keep warm in lieu of running the heating unit at high temperatures. Most importantly, reduce the energy used by the air conditioner or heater by keeping the thermostat at 78°F (26°C) or above and 68°F (20°C) or below, during the warmer and colder months, respectively, as the cooling and heating systems can be responsible for up to 70% of the total gas and electric bill.
Standby power also contributes to a high gas and electric bill. The most common culprits are electric products around the house. These are often left plugged into outlets and continue to draw power even when the products are turned off. Standby power from electronics such as televisions, laptops, and microwaves can contribute to up to 10% of electricity costs. To avoid leaving electronics on standby mode, unplug products that are used only occasionally, and use a power strip for groups of electronics, which will allow them all to be disconnected by just unplugging the strip.
The total energy used by individual appliances can be reduced with a few simple measures. The majority of the energy consumed by washer and dryer units and the dishwasher is due to heat. By washing laundry in cold water and hand drying or air drying dishes, energy consumption by these appliances can be cut by more than half. Running these appliances only with a full load will also reduce the overall energy expended in using them.
Regular maintenance and inspections of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can lower the cost of a gas and electric bill. An energy assessment can be a valuable resource in identifying key areas of energy consumption around the house and any preventative measures that can be taken to reduce costs. The HVAC system should undergo an inspection every year and a cleaning if deemed necessary. The performance of the HVAC system can be maintained by replacing the filter on a monthly basis. Insulation should be assessed for type and thickness, as the insulation's quality determines how much heat is retained within a building and impacts how much energy is used to heat or cool down a home.
Significant reductions in the gas and electric bill can also be achieved with installations that improve the efficiency of the heating and cooling system. Installation of ceiling fans, a programmable thermostat, storm doors, and a timer for the water heater can help lessen the costs of gas and electricity as well. Insulating the water heater allows it to retain more heat. Sealing cracks around doors and windows with weatherstrips similarly prevents loss of cooled or heated air from the home. Invest in appliances and products that are Energy Star® qualified, which indicates more efficient energy usage.