Make Ends Meet: Hot tips to help lower high utility bills
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Winter hit with a bang all over the U.S., with no exception here in WAVE Country, and it is causing soaring prices on utility bills.
When adding energy bills to the struggle we were already facing, with the inflation of everyday items like gas, food and rent, it’s a perfect storm.
Sometimes a person opens up that utility bill and it is literally shocking. People wonder how they can be so high.
There are a few things a person can do to bring the bills down a bit. It’s the little things that make a difference.
Cyndi Bray is an energy and water savings expert, and has noticed the spikes in energy prices.
“Everybody’s energy prices have skyrocketed along with everything else,” Bray said.
The Energy Department forecasts home heating costs will reach a 10-year high this winter.
“We know that the weather and how we use energy inside our homes is really the two major factors that contribute to our energy bill,” Liz Pratt, Media Relations Manager for LG&E and KU said.
Since people can’t change the weather, they must focus on what they can change.
Drafts and air leaks bring not only a chill to your home, but a higher heating bill. To help, there are tapes, caulks, strips, and more that can fill those spaces where that frigid air seeps in.
Courtney McLaughlin is committed to providing energy conservation education and services throughout the Louisville area for Project Warm. Her program travels throughout the city making sure those who need help insulating their home get not only the knowledge they need, but the products too.
“You can put it in the window in big air gaps,” she explained holding up a roll of latex caulk that can be used to close large gaps in window seals. “If it’s a drafty home, it would be best to put plastic on the windows.”
According to Energy Star, covering windows with plastic and sealing up leaks with puttys, caulks and foams can cut a person’s utility bill by 20% depending on where they live. Even their outlets and light switches need insulation.
McLaughlin suggests gaskets for each.
“I tell people don’t put it on interior walls,” McLaughlin said. “There’s no point in that right. Just exterior walls, because that’s where that cold air is coming through and that’s where you’re losing money!”
Some of the tips are very simple. McLaughlin stressed just changing a furnace filter monthly can make a big difference.
“It’s just one of those little routine maintenance things that can make a big difference, just like changing the oil in your car,” McLaughlin said.
Little changes can make a big difference and pennies and dimes can add up to dollars.
“It may not seem like small tweaks here and there would make a difference, but when you combine them all together, that’s where it’s really so impactful,” Pratt said.
Bray is not only an energy and water savings expert, but she invented and marketed Wad-Free, a practical home-laundry product that keeps bed sheets from wadding up in the washer or dryer.
When those sheets wad up in the washer, they don’t get clean. Then, when they are placed in the dryer wadded up, they don’t dry and the dryer needs to re-run. All of that costs money.
Bray just got tired of it and knew there had to be an answer.
“When you come back to that dryer door and you open it up, you don’t find a wet wad of sheets,” Bray said of her Wad-Free invention. “Instead, you find nice fluffy dry sheets.”
Fluffy sheets that don’t have to be dried again because they’re in a wet tangled wad with other clothes.
Bray also suggested other ways to save money when doing your laundry.
“Dial the temperature in the washing machine down to cold,” Bray said. “You’re gonna save a lot of energy, approximately 50 cents a load.”
Bray also suggested setting the dryer to a lower heat setting. Clothes will still dry and money will be saved too.
“You save a lot of energy over running it on high, because the dryer is actually the least efficient appliance in the household,” Bray said.
A few other quick tips to cut that utility bill:
- Take shorter showers.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater.
- Turn the lights off when they are not in use.
- Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%.
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