Homeowners are faced with many costs. From mortgage payments to property taxes and insurance, it seems impossible to have any control over so many expenses. However, when it comes to utility costs, you can exercise some control. Energy, gas and water bills can be reduced by taking some easy to implement measures in your home. Here are our top 10 tips to lower utility costs for your southern California property:
1. Seal it Up
Whether you’re heating or cooling, pesky cracks under the door and improperly sealed windows cost you in energy bills big-time. Incoming warm or cool air decreases the efficiency of your heating or cooling system, meaning your system works harder. Look for drafts and cracks around your windows and doors. Some easy sealants and door sweeps can do wonders for improving your home’s ability to block outside air from getting in.
2. Use Cold Water
Hot water is a wonderful thing, but you probably don’t need it as often as you think. You can opt for using cold water to wash your clothes or when washing your hands. This may seem like a small change, but over the course of a year, you lower the cost of using your water heater. Some, like Michael Bluejay claim up to $152 can be saved from using exclusively cold water in your clothes washing machine.
3. Air Dry Clothes
Clothes dryers are convenient, but they perform a job that can be done naturally for free. Clothes dryers are also big electricity drains. When you can, opt to use the sun, which is plentiful in Southern California, and air to dry your clothes. If you can’t stand the thought of air drying your laundry, check in to updating your dryer with a more energy efficient model.
4. Shutdown and Unplug for the Night
Devices that are left on overnight increase your electricity bill significantly. Over time, you can save significantly on your bills by not only walking through the house to shut off devices that won’t be used overnight, but also unplugging them. Devices that are plugged in continue to leech energy in small amounts. Think of all of the devices in your home! Unplug them while they’re not in use and you’re sure to save.
5. Try Fans
Southern California is often warm, but the heat isn’t usually excessive. Opt for using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning as much as possible. Ceiling fans are actually quite effective at cooling and can keep your home at a comfortable temperature as long as outdoor temperatures aren’t extreme. Fans are much less expensive to run than an air conditioning unit and can save you on your utility costs.
6. Turn Down the Water Heater
Many property owners don’t think to check their water heater until there’s a problem. However, your water heater spends gas or electricity to heat your water, often to temperatures that are too hot for you to use. This wastes energy and your money. Try turning down your water heater to 120 degrees. The water will still be warm enough for washing dishes and a great shower, but it won’t rob you on your utility bills.
7. Change Light Bulbs
If you haven’t yet, switch out your conventional light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use 15 watts while conventional light bulbs typically use between 40 and 100 watts. Over time, and a number of light bulbs, you can save considerably.
8. Program Your Thermostat
Whether heating or cooling, there’s no need to acclimatize an empty house. If you have a regular routine, program your thermostat to a cooler or warmer temperature as appropriate for the hours of the day when you’re not home. This can help you avoid excessive energy costs for heating and cooling that you aren’t even home to appreciate!
9. Get a Full Load In
Water is also a utility bill that southern Californians are concerned about. Lower your water bill by making small changes. One of these is to make sure that you only run your washing machine or dishwasher with a full load. This will ensure that you take advantage of the water you’re using, and over time mean that you need to do fewer total loads.
10. Plant Native Species
One of the biggest drains on water use is irrigation. Keeping your yard and landscaping beautiful can be expensive due to water costs. However, using native plants that have less demanding water requirements can keep your outdoor space looking great without causing your water bill to skyrocket. Consult with a landscaping company or local greenhouse for advice about the best plants to choose for low water usage.
So, take control over your utility costs and make a few changes today! You’ll be amazed at the difference in your spending over the course of time.