5 Ways to Reduce Utility Bills Today

1) Temperature is Free Money: Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees year-round to save energy. For winter, set your heating & cooling system thermostat to 68 degrees or below; for summer, 74 degrees or higher. Keep your system off and windows open when it's nice outside. Contrary to popular belief, the thermostat is not reflective of the temperature coming out of the air vents. The thermostat is the target temperature for the air inside the home, and setting it higher or lower will not speed it up. Find your comfort zone and leave it be for maximum efficiency.

2) Watts Matter (But So Does Color and Brightness): Some fluorescent lights can make your living room look like a hospital room. But Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) have come a long way in recent years; they use half the energy and can even match the warm light of incandescent bulbs. To save even more energy consider Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. Either way, you just need to know three things when it comes to lighting. 1) Energy: Lower Watts (W) equals less energy usage. 2) Color: Lower Kelvin (K) equals warmer light (yellow hue). Look for 2700K - 3000K for a warm colored light equal to the glow of a soft-white incandescent. Above 3000K, your light will start to become white with a blue hue. 3) Brightness: Higher Lumens (LM) equals brighter light. In general, 850 lumens is equal to the brightness of the old 60 Watt incandescents.

3) Stop The Power Drain: Even when your TV, DVD, cell phone charger, and kitchen appliances are not in use, they are still drawing energy - as much as 10% of your utility bill. Unplug appliances not in use, or plug them into a surge protector you can turn off with the switch of a button. If you don't want to bother with remembering to unplug, invest in a 'smart' power strip that can sense when your appliances are off and automatically cut the flow of energy.

4) Cold is Better For Colors: Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible to reduce the energy used to heat water. Washing in cold water also preserves fabric integrity and color, extending the life of your clothes.

5) Low-Flow Equals Less Dough: Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. You'll save water and the electricity required to heat it. Contrary to popular belief, these do not lessen the water pressure. You may actually have better water pressure with low-flow fixtures. Typical shower heads today flow at a rate of 2.5 to 4 gallons of water per minute (that's money per minute). Look for shower heads that have flow rates of 1.5, 1.75, or 2.0 gallons per minute. If you live in an older home, you might also consider replacing your toilet with a high-efficiency or dual-flush model to save water and money with every flush.

Text and Image by ThoughtCraft Architects