Energy Bills, Save Money, Air Conditioner
Homeowners who ditch preventative maintenance often end up shelling out big bucks for extensive replacement or repairs that could have been avoided.
Without regular maintenance, most major appliances lose about 5 percent of their original efficiency for each year of operation. Yet in a nationwide Angie’s List poll, nearly half of the members admitted that they don’t have their air conditioner serviced as often as they should, and 20 percent don’t replace filters on time.
That’s cash right out the door.
The biggest energy hogs in your house are air conditioners, refrigerators and water heaters. Run those devices at top efficiency and you’ll save money.
- Dialing for dollars: Each degree you go below 78 degrees increases your energy consumption by about 8 percent. If your monthly electric bill is about $100, you’ll save $8 a month with EACH degree you can stand above 78.
- Programmable thermostats cost between $100 and $150, but they’ll help you more easily adjust your room temperature to be higher when you’re asleep or not home and lower when you need it.
- Inspect your filters every other month: Replace dirty air filters to save even more by keeping your AC running at top efficiency.
- Made in the shade: Air in a shaded space is cooler than the surrounding air meaning the AC will have an easier time cooling the air before pumping it into the home.
- Clean the condenser coils once a year.
- Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers.
- Check door seals to ensure they’re air-tight.
- Check the temperature. Recommended settings are 37° to 40°F for fresh food and 5°F for the freezer. Stand-alone freezers should be kept at 0°F.
- Refrigerators should last about 15 years. If yours is more than six-years-old and repair will cost more than half its original cost, get a newer, more energy efficient model.
- Lower your water heater base temperature to 120 degrees: You won’t notice the temperature drop, but you’ll notice the savings.
- Drain a quart of water from your water heater tank every three months to remove sediment that slows down heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. Your owner’s manual should offer instruction.
- Properly insulate your water heater tank and pipes to increase efficiency. Don’t cover the tank thermostat.
- Use low-flow faucets and shower heads throughout your home to decrease the amount of water and energy used.
Other large appliances
- Turn off electronics when they are not in use.
- Run dishwashers and washing machines only when you have a full load, but don’t overload them.
- Replace washer fill hoses every five years.
- Wash clothes with warm or cold water to save on heating costs. Dialing down from hot can cut your washer’s energy load by more than 50 percent.
- Inspect and clean the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer at least once a year.
- Clean the lint filter before each use.
- Skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher.
Artificial lighting consumes almost 15 percent of an average home’s electricity use.
- Turn off the lights in any room you’re not using.
- Install timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
- Consider high-efficiency bulbs, but pay attention to proper disposal of those that contain mercury.
- Regular engine tune-ups: Have your mechanic do regular checks to avoid fuel economy problems. Follow your car manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Annual, biannual and mileage-based preventative maintenance is intended to give technicians the chance to uncover any problems in the early stages.
- Monitor tire inflation and mileage: Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned can increase fuel consumption up to 3 percent. In addition, fuel efficiency is often the first warning sign of a problem. Monitoring your mileage can catch a problem before it gets too big (and expensive).
- Replace air filters: Air filters protect your engine and can improve gas mileage up to 10 percent.
- Know your oil: Check your owner’s manual to see if your car has a specific oil type and make sure your mechanic uses that type. Using different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent.
- Combine errands into one trip: Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Other simple ways to save money this summer:
- Move during the week: Summer is peak season for movers. Schedule your move for mid-week instead of the weekend.
- Check your home and garage for any signs of insect damage: July is the height of insect season and a good time to look for signs of termites or other pests that could harm your home.
- Landscaping can reduce cooling costs: Plant trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of the house to shield the rays of the sun. Trees alone can add 3 percent to 7 percent to the value of your home.
- Be flexible and willing to coordinate. If your service company has more than one customer in your neighborhood, see if you can coordinate with them. This can cut down on your contractor’s fuel costs, and keep him/her from passing them on to you.
*1,909 Angie’s List members took our poll. Responses are representative of Angie’s List members, but not the general public.