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7 Ways to Lower Your Utility Bill

7 Ways to Lower Your Utility Bill

Ethan Ewing for

The average American home will spend $990 on heating this year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Add that to the rising costs of food, clothing, and travel, and almost every individual and family will feel the pinch.

Fortunately, you can make your utility bills more manageable. Follow these steps to reduce your utility bills.

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1) Turn down the heat. Much as we love a cozy home, lowering the thermostat will instantly lower your bill. The EIA says projects that for every degree you lower your heat, you can cut your heating costs by as much as 5 percent. At night, or when you are away, lower the temperature as far as possible while protecting your health and the safety of your pipes. Bundle up with a throw on the sofa, get some warm slippers, and wear a sweater or fleece. If necessary, stay cozy at night with an electric blanket, which uses less energy than heating the entire home or apartment.

2) Program the temperature. Make furnace settings automatic by installing a programmable thermostat. These devices cost about $40 and are simple to install.

3) Replace light bulbs. Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to save about 50 watts per light bulb and make a significant difference on utility bills. They do cost more to purchase, but they pay off over the life of the bulb. If you move frequently, you might want to keep the old bulbs to leave behind in the fixtures while taking your investment in bulbs with you.

4) Cut laundry costs. Wash clothes in cold water — they will last longer and still get clean while saving energy. Hang clothes to dry, either outside or on a line in a garage, bathroom or spare room. If you do use the clothes dryer, try to use an Energy Star certified model, and be sure to clean the lint filter before every use to maximize air circulation.

5) Insulate. Carefully inspect your home for drafty spots where cold air can enter. The most common culprits are doors and windows. Install weather stripping and door sweeps to block drafts. Add old-fashioned “draft dodgers” for a quick fix at exterior doors. Other common areas for air leaks are locks, outlets, air conditioning units and recessed light fixtures. Cover outside vents, including air conditioning units. If possible, install insulated electrical outlet boxes and light fixtures. The Energy Star program offers a free guide to home insulation at

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