By Mary Schwager, GALTime.com Consumer Watchdog
Something that can take you minutes could up saving you big money each month with your utility bills. Some of the best tips are even buried inyour appliance instruction manuals--but of course, who likes to read those? Angie's List did the sifting through those "font size 4 manuals" for you and has these tips:
"Homeowners don't have to look far to find savings. The four fattest energy hogs in the average home are heating and cooling systems, major appliances, water heaters and lights." says Angie's List Founder Angie Hicks. "Be more efficient in these areas and you'll pile up monthly savings in a hurry."Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies, went to the experts to find ways to wring energy savings out of every room in you home.
"Homeowners will save a lot if they just follow basic maintenance plans spelled out in owners' manuals. But they should also know when to put down the tool box and call in an expert," Hicks said. "Reputable service professionals can keep your energy hogs happy but running at top efficiency, and that will put more cash in your pocket."
Angie's List Energy Savings Room by Room: In the Kitchen:
- Is Your Refrigerator Running?Major appliances, including your refrigerator, are the No. 2 energy hog in your home. Keep the refrigerator clean and airtight for top efficiency to cut down on your electric bill:
- Think Small: Ovens and ranges are appliances and therefore energy hogs. Microwave ovens use about 50 percent of the energy ovens and ranges need, and they don't heat up your kitchen. Slow cookers can cook a whole meal and cost you only about 17-cents worth of electricity.
- Don't Peek: Opening the oven door to check cooking progress can lower the oven temperature by as much as 25 degrees and increase the temperature in your kitchen. Use the oven light instead to check progress.
- Regularly Defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers.
- Dial it Down/Keep it Clean: Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems are your home's No. 1 energy hogs.
- A/C Savings: Each degree you dial your air conditioner above 78°Fdecreases energy usage and can save the average homeowner about $8 a month per degree. Dial it down when you're not going to be at home - programmable thermostats make that chore easy.
- Heating Savings: You can save as much as 10 percent on heating costs by keeping your thermostat set at 65 degrees at least eight hours a day. A programmable thermostat, which can be found for as little as $20, can take care of the dialing for you. Going down to 65 degrees when you're away or asleep means you won't even feel the sacrifice.
- Even More: Check your furnace air filters every time you pay your gas or electricity bill and change them as needed, generally quarterly if you're using quality filters. The cleaner the filter, the more efficient the HVAC system. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and can create costly obstructions in the unit.
- Light Show:It seems too easy to matter, but turning lights off when you're not in the room really will reduce energy costs - especially if you're still using incandescent bulbs. (Lighting is your home's No. 4 energy hog.)
- The Off Switch: Electronics are No. 5 energy hogs. Video game systems use about the same amount of power when they are in sleep mode as they do when they're in use. So, after you conquer the Wii, turn the system off and then turn the TV off, too.
- Pull the Drapes: Direct sunlight can raise room temperature as much as 20 degrees and trigger your A/C. Close the drapes when you're away so you don't cool an empty house.
- Cool it Down: Lower your water heater (Energy hog No. 3) base temperature to 120°Fdegrees. Your shower will still be steamy and you'll save by heating less water.
- Stand up and Save: Baths generally use more energy than showers because you use less water in the shower, which means you heat less water.
- A Bright Idea: You needa clear mirror view in the bathroom, but every bulb that lights your way costs money. You won't notice the visual difference by replacing 100-watt bulbs with 60-watt bulbs, but you'll see it in energy savings.
- An Even Brighter Idea: Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
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