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Low Cost Ways to Cut Energy Bills
Energy Expenses
Do you know where your energy dollars go each month?
Most people don't. It´s like shopping in a store where prices aren't marked.

You know it's expensive to heat your home in winter. But you might not realize that you may be spending as much on energy for hot water, appliances and lights each year.

Because these energy costs are year-round, small changes in these areas add up to big savings.


Would you like to save money this year?
Every day you make choices that affect how much energy you use and pay for. Follow these steps and you can save money without sacrifice or discomfort.

They require only simple changes in how you use energy for hot water, appliances and lights, plus a few hours of your time and less than $40 in easy-to-install devices.

Besides putting money in your pocket, saving energy is good for the planet. With a little care from everyone, we´ll leave cleaner air, more fish in the streams and more resources for future generations.

Low Cost Ways to Save Energy
1. Water Heaters
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. Six hours after resetting, hold a meat or candy thermometer under running hot water to check water temperature. Adjust the thermostat if necessary.
  • Insulate your water heater. An insulation blanket costs only about $10 and quickly pays for itself, even if your water heater is indoors. Follow manufacturer´s instructions.

2. Showers
  • Install a new high performance, water-saving showerhead. It will cut the cost of your showers in half. New models deliver a full spray using less than three gallons a minute. They cost only $5 to $15 and are easy to install. You won´t run out of hot water as often, either.
  • Take shorter showers. Set a timer to remind you when time is up.
  • Set the water to less than full force.

3. Bathtubs
  • Keep water levels below three inches.

4. Faucets
  • Don't leave the water running while shaving.
  • Fix leaky faucets. Thirty drips a minute of hot water wastes 50 gallons of water a month.
  • Install water-saving faucet aerators on sinks you use the most.

5. Clothes washer
  • Rinse all loads with cold water.
  • Wash with warm or cold water. Follow garment care label. Washing with cold water can reduce energy costs.
  • Run full loads. Sort clothes into loads needing the same wash cycle.
  • Reduce the water level setting for small loads.

6. Clothes dryer
  • Hang clothes outside when it's sunny. Sunshine is free. (Drying clothes indoors may cause condensation problems in winter.)
  • Clean the lint filter after every load. Be sure the vent hose isn't clogged.
  • Run separate loads for fast and slow drying clothes. Why run the dryer when just a few items are damp?
  • Use the moisture or automatic setting if your dryer has one. It knows when your clothes are dry better than the timer.

7. Dishwasher
  • Run full loads.
  • Use a shorter wash cycle whenever possible. Avoid the rinse-and-hold cycle. It uses about eight gallons of water just to pre-rinse dishes.
  • Use the air dry or energy-saver setting.
  • Pre-rinse dishes only if food particles are dried on. Try a load with unrinsed dishes. Your dishwasher probably does a better job than you give it credit for.

8. Hand dishwashing
  • Don't run hot water continuously for rinsing. Use a basin or pan.
  • Don't fill basins deeper than needed. Use leftover wash water for soaking.

9. Waterbeds
  • Pull the covers up to insulate the top.
  • Insulate the bottom and sides with polystyrene foam insulation.
  • Lower the waterbed thermostat, if adjustable.

10. Refrigerator and freezer
  • Set the refrigerator to 38-40 degrees F. Place a thermometer near the thermostat to check setting.
  • Set stand-alone freezers to 0 degrees F.
  • Unplug the second refrigerator or freezer if you don´t keep it full.
  • Locate refrigerators and freezers away from heat registers and stoves, if possible. Leave two to three inches clearance around the back, sides and top.
  • Vacuum coils behind or underneath refrigerator twice a year. Clean coils help the compressor run less and last longer.
  • Set the energy-saver switch on to turn off anti-sweat heat coils in the door gasket. Repair damaged door gaskets with self-stick foam tape.
  • Keep the door closed. Open the door once to unload several items, instead of opening the door several times in a row.

11. Lights
  • Turn off lights when you don't need them.
  • Install lower wattage bulbs in overhead fixtures. Use floor and desk lamps for close-up work.
  • Keep bulbs and fixtures clean. Dirty fixtures reduce light intensity by as much as 25 percent.
  • Avoid long-life light bulbs or energy buttons, except in hard-to-reach fixtures. They put out less light and don't save energy.
  • Install fluorescent lamps in rooms with lights on more than two hours a day. Compact fluorescent lamps produce a warm light and fit in many fixtures.

12. Cooking
  • Cook several meals at the same time.
  • Cover pans to cook food faster. Use pans that fully cover the burner. Avoid warped pans on electric burners.
  • Turn off the oven and burners a few minutes before food is done. It will continue to cook. Preheat the oven only when baking bread and cakes.
  • Use an electric skillet, microwave oven or toaster oven whenever possible.

13. TV, radio and stereo
  • Turn them off when you're not watching or listening.
 
Prepared by the Oregon State University Extension Energy Program with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration.

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