February 14

Cut Utility Costs -7 Immediate Steps That Will Help You


7 Immediate Steps That Will Help You Cut Utility Costs

Are your utility costs pulling you under? Do you feel like there isn’t enough in your budget each month to keep the lights on? With utility costs always increasing, you might be looking for ways to cut utility costs. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to cut those utility costs without forgoing the services all together. Look below at 7 immediate steps that will help you cut utility costs, and see how easy it can be to save each month on those utility bills.

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1. Seal all window cracks.

If you have old or drafty windows, you are making your furnace or air conditioner work even harder. That means more money out of your pocket. Now is the time to seal all window cracks and prevent drafts. A simple caulking kit can help you get the job done, prevent further leaks, and save you some cash.

2. Use draft blockers in doorways.

If your home has older doors or doors that aren’t fitted properly, you are once again making your air conditioner or furnace work even harder. If replacing the door isn’t feasible at this time, use a draft blocker. You can make your own by filling a tube sock with dried rice, tying it closed, and placing it at the base of the door to prevent leaks.

3. Utilize a smart thermostat.

Use a thermostat that sets the temperature based on the time of day and your needs. For example you can set the thermostat to a cooler temperature at night when no one is awake, and set it to a more comfortable temp during the day when people are more active. Keep an eye on your thermostat daily to make sure it isn’t running any harder than it needs to.

4. Check your large appliances for efficiency.

Many older appliances aren’t as efficient as the newer models. See if any local appliance stores offer free or cheap inspections. It may actually be worth replacing the old appliance for a more efficient model, and you may even get a trade-in offer for the appliance you are getting rid of.

5. Call your utility companies for a chat!

Call your utility companies as ask about any recent price increases. You may be able to negotiate a lower bill, or get tips on how to cut back your bill. See if your utility companies offer a discount if you pay online, or use automatic billing as well.

6. Use overhead fans.

Overhead ceiling fans are a great way to reduce heating and cooling costs. During the winter they can be set to push warm air downward, while during the summer they can be used to circulate the cool air. If you have a ceiling fan, use it before adjusting the thermostat.

7. Place all lighting devices on timers.

Leaving lights on when no one is in the room is a huge waste of resources. Instead, place lights on timers set to turn off at a certain time of day. Using energy-efficient light bulbs are also a great way to keep costs down during your day to day usage.

8. Let the light in.

Keep curtains open during the day so that sunlight can come in and gently warm the space. Close curtains at night to help keep drafts out.

Are you ready to be more efficient while also saving money on your monthly utility bills? Consider these 7 immediate steps that will help you cut utility costs, and see how easy it can be to get those bills down.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What are some quick ways to reduce my energy bills?

    Reducing energy bills can feel overwhelming, but several quick, easy steps make an immediate difference in usage and monthly costs. Simple thermostat adjustments, sealing air leaks around doors and windows, and switching out inefficient lighting provide the fastest ways to shrink bills painlessly.

    One of the quickest tricks is tweaking your thermostat to align with occupancy patterns. Programmable thermostats allow customizing temperature schedules for when you’re typically home versus away or sleeping. In winter, dropping temperatures 10-15 degrees 8+ hours daily while out at work or school generates automatic savings. You won’t even notice the cooler house upon returning later. Similarly, raise temperatures in summer to let the house gradually warm before coming home to enjoy cooler indoor air without continuously running the AC all day. Smart thermostats take automation further by using phone location services to know when you’re home.

    Sealing air leaks makes a fast, sweeping impact too. Do a walk through on windy days and run your hands along the edges of exterior doors and windows to check for drafts. Use clear window caulk to fill gaps between frames and Sidings, which prevents indoor climate-controlled air from escaping outside. Add weather stripping along movable joints in doors and attic hatches prone to infiltration too. Stop conditioned air slipping through cracks immediately keeps energy bills lower.

    Upgrading old incandescent bulbs uses less energy by default, but why stop there? Swap out CFLs for even more efficient LEDs that use at least 75% less energy and last years longer. Though pricier upfront, LEDs offer the fastest growing lighting option to shrink usage rapidly. Install timers or smart switches to lights typically left on like front porch and hallways too.

    Simple tweaks allow fast savings while bigger upgrades like adding insulation require more planning. Small daily efforts around setting thermostats wisely, plugging holes wasting AC and heat, and installing efficient lights trim usage rapidly. Be proud of quick wins while charting long-term efficiency plans for maximal impact slashing energy bills.

  • How much should I keep my thermostat at to save money on heating and cooling?

    Finding the right thermostat temperature that balances comfort and energy efficiency takes some trial and error. Overall, aim to reduce heating and cooling extremes that overwork HVAC systems. For reference, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests cooling homes to 78°F and heating to 68°F. Adjusting just a few degrees makes a significant savings difference.

    In winter, set the thermostat down to around 68°F while home and awake. Then lower temperatures to 60-65°F overnight and while out during the day. Yes, it feels chillier initially getting out of bed on winter mornings, but simply dress warmer in layers and lightweight blankets. The house feels perfectly comfortable within an hour of the temperature bouncing back to 68°F. You likely run errands on weekends while temperatures stay lowered a bit too. This strategy easily clips usage 10% or more each month just through adjusting the programmable schedule alone to align with living patterns.

    Similarly, raising summer thermostat settings higher than 75°F while gone all day allows pre-cooling the home before returning each afternoon. Set programming to start lowering the interior temperature 30-60 minutes before arriving back home. You come home to comfortably cooler air without running AC continually at frigid levels day and night. Ceiling fans circulating air also make rooms feel several degrees cooler, allowing even higher thermostat settings.

    If health conditions require stricter temperature regulation like living with infants or elderly family, then balance setpoints towards their needs more. But open window coverings on sunny days in cold months to harness free solar heat gain and shut them at night for insulation. Close blinds in summer to prevent overheating indoors too.

    Be smart about thermostat location as well. Mount them on interior walls away from exterior doors, windows, and ductwork to best sample overall ambient room temperatures accurately versus localized cold and hot spots that skew readings.

    Getting into the habit of tweaking heating and cooling set points to align with your family’s seasonal routines saves energy exponentially while still maintaining comfort. Thermostat programming matched with intentional daily actions like strategic window coverings, ceiling fans, and comfy layers keeps utility costs dropping year-round.

  • Does weather stripping around doors and windows really help?

    Installing weather stripping and seals around leaky doors and drafty windows can reduce energy bills up to 20% annually by lowering costs to heat and cool a home. Though an unexciting upgrade, properly sealing air gaps literally helps stop energy and money blowing right out your own home unnecessarily.

    Doors and windows compose over 50% of conditioned floor space in the average home, meaning their energy efficiency impacts usage substantially. Yet gaps between movable window frames and walls or hollow door frames and thresholds commonly leak at surprisingly high rates when aggregated room to room. In fact, the US Department of Energy estimates a typical home loses up to 40% of HVAC energy just through air leakage around openings.

    Running your hands along frames on a windy winter day quickly identifies draft culprits. Even more informative, specialized IR flash photography exposes leaky areas glowing bright white where heat signatures radiate outside from the warmer interior of your house. Small cracks at the top and sides of window frames or the bottoms of exterior doors contribute significantly to higher bills trying to continuously offload that escaping heat in winter or even worse, cycling hot humid air out in summer requiring additional cooling and dehumidification constantly.

    DIY weatherization projects seal the most common air leaks through thoughtful materials choices like foam weather stripping pads, door sweeps, and window or door frame caulk and expandable spray foam. Focus first on outer layers facing prevailing winds for maximum protection from the elements. Make double hung windows slide smoother too by replacing old ropes in sash weights allowing tight window closure against new weather stripping.

    Though sealing leaks sounds mundane, this single action reclaims all that wasted, expensive heated or cooled air from slipping through the cracks priming your home to maintain comfortable temperatures using far less energy. Added benefits prevent dust and pests sneaking in plus buffers outdoor noise year round. So grab a caulk gun and get sealing – your energy bill savings will prove weatherizing your home works wonders!

  • What temperature should I wash clothes at to conserve resources?

    Washing clothes in cold water instead of hot may sound counterintuitive for getting them clean, but modern detergents formulated for cool water washing effectively lift dirt and stains while saving up to $60 yearly just by skipping your water heater’s energy usage altogether. That fresh smell and savings adds up fast just by tweaking the temperature dial.

    According to fabric care experts, washing most everyday loads like colors, towels, sheets – everything except whites really – on the cold/cool setting sufficiently removes odors, dirt, and oils in just a single wash cycle. The exception remains, bleach-able whites and household members with infectious illnesses where hot water appropriately sanitizes when needed. Otherwise cold water washing works efficiently by itself.

    EnergyStar certified washer models include optimized agitators, deeper wash plates, emulsion dispensing, and lengthened soak times allowing cool water cycles to penetration deeply and loosen soils. Paired with enzymatic detergents specifically designed for cold washing, lifting grime occurs effectively even in 50 degree input temperatures that save up to 80% in water heating costs over a year.

    Beyond energy savings, washing cooler also benefits fabrics by reducing dye stripping, shrinking delicate items, and fading bright colors over repeated laundering. Lower temperatures also minimize abrasion damage to fabrics and trims. This extends the lifespan of favorite items made of linen, silks, athletic performance gear, swimwear and more. Choosing cold washing also prevents issues like wool items felting and shrinkage.

    For household sustainability goals, responsible water stewardship matters too. Heating water to wash clothes consumes over twice as much H2O compared to efficient cold cycles. Multiply gallons of water heating savings across hundreds of home loads annually. Washing cooler reduces associated carbon emissions as well since less electricity powers municipal water heating. Being mindful with laundry habits benefits personal finance and environmental impact both short-term and cumulatively long-term.

    Give cold water washing a try – you will be amazed how modern detergent technology tackles stains perfectly without hot water input. Save the heating for occasional sanitizing needs only. Otherwise turn the dial cooler and watch energy savings spin up each month.

  • How often should I replace AC and furnace filters?

    Replacing air conditioner and furnace filters every 60-90 days prevents energy draining issues down the road and sustains optimal home comfort, indoor air quality, and equipment longevity. Though skipping a seasonal changeout may seem harmless in the moment, increased strain on HVAC systems over time causes breakdowns necessitating far costlier emergency repairs.

    Dirty AC and furnace filters inevitably become clogged with dust particles, pet hair, pollen and allergens over months of continual use circulating air through your ductwork. Even the highest quality filters reach a saturation point where airflow starts to restrict. All the while, particulate debris accumulates inside the actual HVAC components too on fan blades, cooling coils, and heat exchange surfaces.

    Restrictive airflow requires systems to work considerably harder trying to push enough oxygen through tighter spaces to facilitate proper combustion and ventilation. This strains motors and internal components prone to burning out over time if continually overloaded. Maintaining clean filters keeps airflow smooth and even.

    Without sufficient airflow volume, AC and furnace efficiency drops substantially while energy costs rise to compensate increased runtime working against resistance. Dirty units may freeze up struggling to regulate proper refrigerant pressures and fluid flows too. Buildup can obstruct sensors giving false readings as well.

    Routine filter swaps every 60-90 days keeps AC and furnace systems breathing freely. Quick visual inspections verifies units stay visibly clean inside too. This effortless maintenance prevents expensive emergency repairs down the road. Added benefits include reducing seasonal allergies, viruses, odors and keeping visible interior duct dust at bay. Families appreciate cleaner indoor air quality and year-round comfort replacing filters 4-5 times annually delivers rather painlessly.

    While the habit may be out of sight, out of mind, remembering to swap filters routinely makes a world of difference in HVAC performance. Far easier than dealing with dysfunctional equipment issues later on!

  • Should I install a programmable or smart thermostat?

    Installing a programmable or WiFi enabled smart thermostat optimizes home heating and cooling usage based on your family’s living schedule. Advanced thermostats save money and energy by automatically adjusting temperatures to match when rooms are actually occupied versus sitting empty day and night. Hands free convenience ensures your system only runs as much as necessary for comfort.

    Unlike old fashioned manual thermostats that passively maintain one static temperature, modern connected thermostats proactively set intelligent schedules mapping out weekdays, weekends and seasonal changes. Basic programmable models allow presetting 4-6 daily schedules like “Weeknight”, “Saturday Morning”, “Vacation Days” etc easily configurable to match school, sleep, and work patterns set and forget. More advanced options auto shift based on sunrise/sunset and integrate with smart home devices.

    For everyday efficiency, lowering temperatures up to 15°F cooler while away and overnight racks up substantial savings. Let the house gradually rewarm 30 minutes before returning home. Similarly, summer cooling setbacks of 5-8° higher slash energy costs for air conditioning without sacrifice. Thermostats know to resume normal comfort levels matching your presence in rooms.

    Next level capabilities like WiFi connectivity offers control flexibility adjusting temperatures remotely as needed from phones. Motion sensors maintain temps only in rooms actively being used or shut down entirely when away like vacation hold. Integrations with Alexa, Google Home etc allows hands free voice control too – literally just say “Alexa, set thermostat to 72” to override while enjoying family movie night.

    Smart analytics track performance over time as well. Review usage history to identify savings opportunities like widening overnight setbacks or reducing over cooling/heating in unused guest rooms. Monitoring runtime hours determines if increased maintenance like cleaning filters improves efficiency. Remote air quality sensors even advise ideal ventilation rates balancing indoor pollutants without wasting energy.

    Transforming basic thermostats into intelligent home climate controls grants both effortless convenience comfort plus behind the scenes energy optimization in one sleek gadget. Spending more upfront on a quality programmable or smart thermostat earns its keep through years of expanding HVAC savings.

  • Does running ceiling fans keep rooms cooler and save AC costs?

    Using ceiling fans keeps rooms feeling cooler in summer allowing thermostats to be set higher which saves energy and money running the air conditioner less overall. The gentle breeze created by paddle fan blades tricks your body into feeling up to 8°F cooler from effective windchill even at warmer indoor temperatures. Maximizing this practical comfort technique reduces electricity costs substantially on cooling.

    Here’s the logic – Set your thermostat 78-82°F to avoid turning on the AC yet rotate ceiling fans to high speed creating a volume of airflow that makes the room feel pleasantly cooler. The gentle windchill effect allows comfortably enduring warmer indoor temperatures without the refrigerated chill of air conditioning necessarily blasting 24/7. Run fans counter-clockwise to push air downward creating the wind effect. Adjust speeds as needed based on room size, ceiling height and occupant activity levels. Turn fans off when leaving rooms exceeding 15 minutes. Sleeping individuals may prefer an optional lower nighttime speed.

    Using more fans circulate air better too – placing a floor fan nearby heat sources like kitchens and sunny windows helps equalize any hotspot temperatures blending with the overall cooler room. The key remains establishing constant airflow reaching all seating zones where heat exposure gets perceived most critically for comfort. Oscillating tower fans supplement large rooms effectively as well.

    Strategically close drapes on sunny exposures to prevent greenhouse effects indoors. Tilt blinds appropriately to block intense high angle summer sunlight yet allow desirable low-angle winter rays that naturally help warm interiors in cold months free. Keep lights off as much as possible to prevent waste heat from bulbs adding indoor temperatures too.

    Simple adjustments like using ceiling paddle fans to generate pleasant cooling windchill may seem minor but this small shift allows significant thermostat setbacks that reduce air conditioner runtime substantially. Fans working smarter not harder makes a huge impact on home electricity costs and carbon footprint over cooling seasons. Give it a try!

  • What wattage LED light bulb should I buy to replace incandescents?

    Finding the right wattage LED bulb to replace traditional incandescent or CFL lighting comes down to matching light output measured in lumens rather than simply swapping equivalent wattages. Thankfully lumen estimates on LED packaging help pair the proper brightness levels needed room-by-room inside your home. Choosing correctly ensures the longevity and efficiency benefits of LED technology shine through.

    When upgrading old-fashioned bulbs, focus first on how much brightness by lumens gets emitted rather than worrying about matching wattage levels. For reference, stick to 800-1100 lumens LED output to mimic a standard 60W incandescent glow. That beams sufficient illumination for typical household spaces like living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms without overpowering a room. Upgrade hallway lighting to 450-800 lumens since less ambient light gets needed in transitional spaces. Brighter, high lumen output LEDs shine perfectly in garage workbenches, laundry rooms, and basement spaces benefiting from extra intensity flooding key zones.

    Consider light appearance too – labels specifying ‘warm glow’, ‘bright white’, ‘daylight’ etc give the lighting a personalized feel. Warm tones replicate incandescent coziness while cool blue-hued tones encourage energy and alertness. Bulb shape comes down to fixture compatibility and décor preferences with traditional rounded designs, flame-tip shapes, and sleek globes available.

    Regardless of your lighting flavor or style, swapping good quality LEDs in place of outdated bulbs slashes energy usage guaranteed. LED efficiency stands heads and shoulders above alternatives – using 75% less electricity than incandescents and 50% less than CFLs producing the same brightness outputs. They shed heat backward into fixtures instead of wastefully radiating it outward too. LED lifespans up to 30,000 hours means decades of reduced utility and replacement costs over time.

    So review the lumens first when choosing LED equivalents to swap outdated bulbs that waste money and energy long term. Aim for 800-1100 lumens matching 60W traditionals for most general lighting. Then select appealing warmth or shapes delivering efficient, smart lighting inside and outside your home lighting for years on end.

  • Is it worth adding insulation in my attic?

    Yes, adding insulation in your attic is extremely worthwhile, providing year-round benefits like improved temperature regulation, energy and cost savings, noise reduction, and enhanced durability that outweigh its low upfront costs. Given that heat rises, insufficient attic insulation becomes a primary driver of energy loss and inflated heating and cooling costs. Thoroughly insulating this transitional area greatly minimizes conditioned air leaking to the outside.

    Experts estimate properly insulating attics to R-38 levels can trim home energy costs 15-20% annually, saving hundreds of dollars a year. Even in newer constructed homes, current code minimums around R-30 get outpaced by evolving best practices for maximum air flow restriction. Increased attic insulation beyond code minimums acts essentially like a thermal blanket between indoor and outdoor temperatures year round.

    In winter, denser insulation keeps rising heat inside the home’s livable areas instead of escaping wastefully outside through small cracks, gaps and light fixtures. In summer, upgrading attic insulation keeps solar heat from transmitting downward into the conditioned space and overworking AC systems. Numerous state energy rebates and federal tax credits help offset insulation costs too given the proven savings impact.

    Another benefit includes noise reduction from exterior sources. Added insulation muffles outside traffic, wind and rain sounds permeating the attic airspace and underlying ceiling. The house simply feels quieter and more peaceful overall.

    Enhancing attic insulation beyond code also safeguards rooflines from ice dams in freezing climates plus helps HVAC systems maintain indoor humidity levels more easily. Taking advantage of readily available attic access for adding thick, high R-value insulation provides one of the most cost effective efficiency upgrades delivering ongoing comfort and financial returns for years to come. Invest wisely today and enjoy savings benefits for the lifetime of your home.

  • How often should I water my lawn to conserve water?

    Overall, watering your lawn only once or twice a week deeply versus frequent light watering allows roots to strengthen deeper promoting healthier grass that better withstands droughts. This approach also conserves significant water resources compared to shallow daily sprinkling. Prioritize less frequent, deeper soakings for landscape health and responsible water savings.

    The key remains training grass roots to push deeper rather than relying on constant surface moisture from repeat shallow watering. Build deeper drought- and heat-resistant roots by watering lawns no more than twice weekly with at least 1-1.5 inches of water deeply absorbed. Use timed sprinklers, gauged buckets or moisture probe tools to measure depth correctly. Allow the top few inches to dry out completely between watering instead of daily misting that keeps roots shallow. Remember – less frequent, longer run times penetrating deeper wins for resource conservation and lawn durability.

    Best practice recommends watering early in the morning between 4-10AM before heat evaporates moisture quickly at peak daytime temps. Adjust sprinklers to avoid paved areas wasting runoff. Consider installing smart controllers that shutoff during rainstorms automatically too. Independent zones control unique micro-climates around the yard as well. And don’t forget to aerate annually so oxygen and H2O easily infiltrate root zones.

    During drought or water restrictions, allow lawns to turn brown and dormant to preserve regional supplies for trees and vegetation not easily reversed. Grass bounces back with cooler temps and rainfall resumes. Replace thirsty exotic grasses over time with native, climate appropriate varieties requiring half the water once established if challenges persist.

    Committing to less frequent but deeper lawn watering tactics trains landscapes to thrive more independently while conserving precious community water resources. Patience through adjustment periods pays off allowing responsible conservation supporting local ecosystems long term. Doing more with less protects the future.

  • Can smart plugs really help reduce energy use?

    Yes, adding smart plugs that allow remote control automation and usage monitoring of household appliances and electronics truly yields measurable energy and cost savings over time. The set-it-and-forget convenience ensures devices operate more efficiently by powering off completely when not in use instead of constantly idling in standby modes wasting energy 24/7.

    It’s estimated 10% of home energy usage gets consumed through phantom drain losses from appliances, computers, game consoles, charging cables and even inactive coffee maker displays needlessly remaining on day and night whether households actively utilize the end services or not. Smart plugs alleviate those vampiric draws simplifying complete shutdowns through app controls, timers, motion detection settings so products don’t perpetually stay energized in the background when not actively being used in the foreground.

    Energy saving estimates per device may seem insignificant initially, like $1-5 annually for a game console, but most homes have 10+ plugged in products that quickly compound costs. Smart power strips make it easy to cut several peripheral equipment standby loads at once. The set-it-and-forget peace of mind ensures idle devices don’t inadvertently get left continuously drawing current and generating heat when intended purposes have finished.

    Beyond remote convenience automation, the next level benefit includes tracking usage through accompanying energy monitoring apps. Review plug-specific electric consumption in kilowatt hours and associated electric costs right from phones. Usage visibility analysis identifies least efficient products for upgrades or retirement. Additional app integration even shows fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation by device if seeking carbon footprint reductions.

    Appliance usage and costs get recouped quickly investing upfront in smart plug technology optimization. And crucially – the sustainable impact takes substantial bites out of environmental home energy footprints when scaled nationally across modern device saturated households. Smarter energy cuts reclaim substantial resources multiplying small savings exponentially.

  • What temperature is best for my electric water heater?

    The most efficient hot water heater temperature setting for households balances energy affordability and safety. Generally recommended levels land around 120°F – hot enough for consistent pipe heat yet minimizes risk of scalding accidents.

    Water heating represents almost one-fifth of all energy use in an average household. Keeping electric water heaters set closer to 120°F instead of 140°F significantly reduces appliance labor heating larger volumes of H2O. Lower temps still provide adequate heat for bathing, cleaning, and laundry while reducing risks of severe burns that increase above 130°F.

    Multiplying small savings adding up daily yield significant fuel and cost reductions long term. Electric water heaters heat and reheat tank contents continually to cover household needs 24/7. So just a 5 degree reduction on the thermostat ripples into meaningful gasoline or kilowatt savings monthly given
    nonstop operating cycles. Energy efficient water heaters accumulate cost savings averaging $30-40 per year through temperature reductions alone. Newer tankless heaters amplify savings even more based on demand usage versus always heating a reservoir of water.

    Optimal 120°F settings also prevent dangerous Legionella bacteria colonization which commonly occurs at temperatures between 115-145°F if left unchecked. This keeps household plumbing and human contact safer by impeding microbial buildup in storage tanks and pipes. Cooler temperatures also reduce corrosion and mineral scale conversion rates inside water heating equipment prolonging operational lifespans.

    While some household preferences or climates may necessitate slightly higher 130°F settings, starting around the 120°F water heater sweet spot hits the best balance between energy affordability, safety, and efficacy for reducing costs and risks for homeowners overall. Don’t overlook water heating optimizations – small thermostat adjustments make bigger bottom line impacts reducing energy bills.

  • Does the dishwasher or hand washing use less water and energy?

    When comparing water and energy usage between hand washing dishes vs. using the dishwasher, most modern dishwashers consistently outperform manual washing by substantial margins. Opting to run full loads in an ENERGY STAR certified machine can use up to 50% less water and half the energy over tedious sink scrubbing per load. Those savings add up quickly washing dishes daily for an average family.

    Department of Energy testing confirms an average energy efficient dishwasher uses just 3-4 gallons of total water per full cycle. Even being extremely conservative hand washing, constantly turning the tap on and off between scrubbing and rinses still exceeds over 20 gallons of water usage per big kitchen sink of dirty dishes piled up from a homemade meal or dinner party. Add in the fact that dishwashers repurposed initial wash and rinse cycles up to 10 additional times through advanced filtration before draining water. Comparatively tap water gets wasted down the drain continuously while lathering dishes by hand.

    In addition to water savings, time studies reveal the cumulative “active” wash minutes performing manual scrub brushing and spraying dishes by hand exceeds the total “inactive” run time of just loading a machine and walking away to finish other tasks. Opportunities to prepare meals, enjoy family conversations, or relax get lost stuck hunched over a hot sink manually endlessly sudsing. The convenience efficiency appeals strongly for busy families juggling responsibilities beyond housework chores.

    While some households default to beliefs that hand washing everything conserves the most resources, evidence clearly demonstrates modern ENERGY STAR dishwashers optimize water gallons used, energy to heat wash cycles, dollars spent, and even precious personal free hours better than old fashioned manual washing ever could. Appliance technology evolved sustainable efficiency now outpaces former “earth conscious” practices. The proof steams up in the data!

  • What’s the optimal setting for my refrigerator to prevent food spoilage?

    The Department of Energy recommends setting refrigerator temperatures between 35-38°F and freezer compartments at 0°F to optimize food freshness and prevent spoilage while consuming minimal energy for cooling. Checking these key appliance settings ensures chilled foods remain preserved correctly without wasting electricity running units harder than necessary.

    The ideal chilled refrigerator environment falls right around 37°F to balance safe cold storage while using the least electricity possible over 24/7 runtime. Any warmer than 40°F allows premature food spoiling from increased bacteria and mold growth. Any cooler than 34°F risks freezing items like produce and condensation build up from excessive humidity.

    Freezer compartments require staying at 0°F consistently to keep frozen goods solidly intact. Temperatures fluctuating above 10°F lead to partial thawing and refreezing which degrades texture and moisture content over time. Foods get damaged by large ice crystals that form destroying cell structures. Fluctuating also shortens overall safe storage life. Freezer burn happens more rapidly from humidity seeping out too.

    Newer refrigerators may default around 36°F out of the box but changing out water filters, seasonal shifts, stocking/emptying contents etc alters efficiency over time. Regularly double check appliance read outs especially if items spoil quicker than expected. Use standalone thermometers to verify accuracy also since cold spots vary shelf to shelf.

    If internal temperatures measure too warm, begin troubleshooting by inspecting door seals for tight closure and gaps needing replacement. Clean dusty condenser coils below or behind units so heat releases properly prolonging cooling functionality. Evaluate freezer packs effectiveness and adequate air circulation space allowing units to breathe efficiently.

    Tuning refrigerators to the 35-38°F and freezers precisely to 0°F gives appliances the optimal temperature guidance for protecting foods to maximize freshness storage days without wasting excess energy overcooling spaces beyond food safe needs.

  • Where can I learn additional money saving efficiency tips?

    Many excellent resources provide practical tips to save money through home efficiency upgrades. Everything from government websites listing rebate incentives to YouTube tutorials exist guiding homeowners to optimize energy use room by room. Beyond quick DIY tweaks, utilities offer audits and insane rebates to facilitate digitizing outdated heating, cooling and insulation. Don’t overlook available help improving inefficient houses for ongoing savings.

    Start by contacting local utility companies to assess current household consumption. Many providers offer free home energy audits examining insulation levels, duct sealing priorities, storm door value propositions etc. Across seasons the analysis estimates savings potential from upgrading deficient areas to earn attractive rebates reimbursing large retrofit projects over 1-5 years through sustained use reductions. Rely on their expertise telling you exactly where inefficient energy bleeds money currently and what systemic fixes merit investments. If you haven’t had an audit in 5+ years, it’s worth refreshing recommendations as building code evolves.

    The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency also compile user friendly best practice guides for maintaining appliances, programming thermostats appropriately, choosing energy rated products plus endless insulation tips maximizing efficiency for heating, cooling and reducing drafts. Their statistics quantify how minor adjustments like lowering water heaters 10 degrees save families hundreds yearly. They outline eligibility terms for federal renewable energy tax credits and product rebates too helping offset upgrade investments.

    YouTube contains countless tutorial videos as well demonstrating insulating attics, replacing lighting, understanding HVAC sizing charts etc so DIY folks understand efficiency upgrades thoroughly before attempting improvements solo. Comment sections allow asking followup questions from knowledgeable community members with specialized experience on key concepts.

    Home efficiency spans simple no cost efforts like strategic tree planting for passive cooling/heating plus substantial renovations converting to solar renewable sources. Utility guidance, government data and video tutorials make easy-to-digest recommendations so homeowners choose smart paths saving the most money through property improvements for their unique living situation. Support exists at every stage to slash energy costs through smarter usage.


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