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How to save money on heat and electricity?
DFA reader Rebekah asked:
What is the most efficient way to stay warm with electric heat that won’t break the bank? She thinks we should keep bedroom doors open during the day and I think we should close them. Also I’ve been going around trying to keep phone charges etc. unplugged because I’ve heard that they continue to use power even when they aren’t charging, however when I got online to today I came across some articles that said they didn’t really use that much… who should I believe? She also has heat lamps in the bathroom, does that use a lot of energy? What about space heaters?? Thanks Matt!
Lower your thermostat or go off the grid
Hi Rebekah, great question… and thanks for reading DFA.
Your desire to cut costs associated with heat and electricity mirror the same desires I had early in 2009. Back then I too was looking for ways to cut costs wherever and whenever possible. From your question I assume you are not looking for advice on large, costly home projects like improving basement insulation to increase energy efficiency, but rather frugal tricks you can employ right away.
Before I get into the tips, I’ll advise you not to use space heaters… they draw quite a bit of juice making them a less than frugal choice. Regarding the bedroom doors… I’m not sure it makes much of a difference since the furnace likely heats the house the same regardless.
Here are a few practices we adopted back then that are still saving us money today.
- Turn your heat down – You may be used to a 72 degree home, but it is time to sacrifice in order to cut costs. Last winter my wife and I moved our thermostat from 70 down to 64. It seemed cold at first but our bodies acclimated much quicker than we suspected they would. Nowadays we slip into a cozy sweater, fleece, sweatshirt, or even our Slankets (not Snuggie) instead of turning up the heat. 🙂 If your home is empty during the day, consider turning your thermostat down to around 58, then turning it back to 64 when you get home. If you can afford it consider installing a programmable thermostat to do this automatically – they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
- Change furnace filters monthly – Depending on the type of filters you employ the can require changing as often as once per month. If you have a very dirty and clogged filter you could increase efficiency quickly and easily by simply replacing it. Filters are easy to change and cost very little.
- Off the grid Saturdays – This was an article I wrote and had published on FiveCentNickel.com that lays out how we go “off the gird” on Saturdays by committing to no TV time and limited use of all other electronic devices. The benefits of this exercise go far beyond saving money… if you employ it you will read more, spend more time with family, and increase your productivity. Frugal Dad also wrote about ‘off the grid days‘ and the benefits they can bring.
- Reduce standby power – The last tip I’ll give you is to simply encourage your idea to reduce your use of standby power. Read the article I published last May that gives my detailed write up of the concept.
Simply being aware of costs will help you be more likely to keep them down. Combine that awareness with the tips given above and you should see a noticeable difference in your monthly energy costs.
What do you think?
What are some tips I may have missed that Rebekah could use to cut her heating and electrical costs?
If you need personal finance advice… ask Matt Jabs.
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