Did your last electric or gas bill just sting a little? Many people are saying just that after this past cold month we had. Some people have been shocked by their bills. Others not so much. If you would like to try to lower your bills and reduce the hit your wallet just took here are some helpful tips.

Tips to lower your utility bills

Let’s first start talking about your heating and cooling system. Your HVAC system makes up about 50% of your electric bill if you do not heat with gas. Feel a little lucky if you do have gas. As it gets colder outside gas will be more efficient.

  • Reducing your thermostat by just 1 degree can save 1%-3% on your HVAC systems usage. Get those blankets out!
  • I don’t have gas. I have all electric with a heat pump. Heat pumps are not great when you get down around 25 degrees and lower. My compressor will just run all night and my heat doesn’t turn off. The heat coming out of my vents doesn’t feel that warm either. Now before you do this talk to your HVAC company. My company told me that the type of heat pump and system I have if I turn my system on emergency, or auxiliary, my compressor turns off and my air handler inside my house turns on an additional heater. Normally this would cost significantly more than using my heat pump outside, however when it is 10 degrees outside and my system is on emergency, it runs for 20 or so minutes with nice hot heat coming out of my vents then turns off. In this rare situation it is actually cheaper to run my system on emergency than run it constantly on normal mode.

Next look at what you have using power when your not using it. Here are your top energy hogs.

  • Your water heater. Next to your HVAC system your hot water heater comes in #2 as the biggest consumer of power. Taking shorter showers, and being careful washing dishes, are about the most you can do unless you want to consider upgrading your system.
  • Your home computer. Are you still using a desktop computer? Do you leave it on all the time? Some experts say it is good to leave computers running. I don’t agree. Our home computer uses 300 watts an hour. If we left our computer running 24/7 that would equal $395 a year in electricity.
  • Your cable box. This really depends on what type you have. The worst boxes are the ones with hard drives for DVR’s. You can tell by the amount of heat they give off. The biggest problem is that they don’t really turn off, even when you think you turned it off and your not using it, it is still using power. The box we use to have used 120 watts an hour. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that box was costing $95 per year per box. I had a friend that had 5 of these boxes, ouch!
  • Light bulbs. Yes, they do matter. I still believe florescence bulbs are the best value. The LEDs are still the most efficient, but I don’t think save as much money as a CFL after you pay the higher price for the LED bulbs.

So this is a great place to start saving some energy. If you’re looking to make home improvements on your home; windows, doors, and attic insulation will make the biggest impact on your HVAC system and how much it has to work. If your HVAC system is very old it might be time to update it.

I hope this helps you save some money. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. I’m a class A builder, both residential and commercial. I’m also a level 2 energy auditor for both residential and commercial buildings.