My wife, who pays our bills, was ecstatic when our most recent utility (read electric) bill was less than half of what it was this past really cold winter. It’s not that we did without heat (or air conditioning), nor did we give up the television or read by candlelight, but we made a concerted effort to turn off unnecessary lights and be more gentle with the thermostat. Most of the difference, of course, was due to the fair weather allowing us to use the heat quite sparingly. If that was that all we did, heating and/or air conditioning must take up an awful lot of our home energy use.
So I decided to do a little investigating. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, almost half of your utility bill is spent heating or cooling your home. So, how can we cut back on energy cost without reverting to a 19th century lifestyle? Well, in addition to using your heat and air conditioning judiciously, and turning out lights that aren’t being used, you can:
- Dress for the season, i.e., even though you are inside don’t expect to dress like it’s summertime when it’s snowing outside, or vice versa.
- Ensure your house is fully insulated.
- Understand that you cannot air-condition the world. Don’t stand in the doorway and keep the door open even if you are having a fascinating conversation with someone across the street.
- Seal up any cracks in doorways or windows.
- Turn off your computer and printer when not being used.
Energysavers.gov is a government web site that may be useful. I’m not necessarily a fan of big government but there are some pretty good ideas that may start you thinking and help reduce your expenses.