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Homeowner Tips for Better Fuel Efficiency

March 31 2010

Having a utility bill in the triple digits may be common for your household, but with a few simple changes in your daily habits you can save hundreds of dollars as well as reduce your imprint on the environment.  

When watered down is good

You may not realize the amount of water that your household uses daily. From extra-long hot showers to brushing teeth with the tap running, there are a lot of ways to waste water.

Aerators increase perceived pressure power without actually using more water. Essentially it feels as if you’re getting more for less. Most faucets come with aerators. If yours don’t, they are easy to install on your sinks by simply screwing them on tight. 

Aerators can also be installed on showers heads as well. According to eartheasy.com, showers account for 22% of our water use in North America. Cutting that amount down will not only help your wallet, but help the world around you. See: EarthEasy.com

Caroma, an Australian manufacturer, produces a “Dual Flush” toilet that is capable of saving up to 68% of water used by your standard toilet. You choose when you need a light flush or a little more water pressure. See: GreenBuildingSupply.com

But if a new commode isn’t in the budget, fivecentnickel.com suggests putting a brick, a small bucket or any other object in your toilet tank that will displace enough water to make the plumb-bob sense an adequate water level. This method takes some trial and error to find the right amount of displacement – too little water and you may have to flush twice which could use more water than necessary.

Another easy way to conserve water usage is by changing your consumptive habits; that means cutting the length of your showers and turn off the tap brushing your teeth or shaving in the sink. 

Jolting your energy bill

It’s as easy as flipping a switch, saving money on your electric bill takes few adjustments to your daily routine.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps, better known as CFLs, are the new wave of light bulb technology. According to moneycentral.msn.com, one CFL will use up to 75% less energy and typically have a usable life span of 10 times longer than your standard incandescent bulbs.

If you like to leave a light on during the night to keep you from tripping into objects around the house on your way to the kitchen or bathroom, consider plugging that floor light or lamp into a motion sensor so that it is only activated when you walk past.

When going from one room to the next it is best to turn off the lights as you progress and especially if you’re leaving for the day. An easy way to think of your lighting is like running water, would you go from room to room leaving the faucet running full blast only to come back to it thirty minutes later?

Training kids to be thoughtful about turning out lights they’re not using is good parenting. But make sure you’re setting the example.

Are you gassy?

Gas prices are on the rise-especially in the cold months as consumption increases.  Turning down the thermostat can save lots of money even if you just reduce your consumption one or two degrees.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll save money by using it to heat your living area, but only if you turn the gas down in the rest of the house. Turn down the gas when you’re at work and again at night when you go to bed.

Another way to save money is to lower your hot water heater temperature, you don’t have to go as low as the vacation setting-that essentially just keeps the pilot light on, but there’s no reason to take scalding hot showers either. Experiment to find a happy medium so everyone in the house can shower without getting cold, maybe at different times of the day or evening.  See: EnergySavers.com

You can also add a hot water jacket, $10 to $20, to insulate your water heater. Energysavers.gov says adding insulation to your water heater can prevent up to and between 24% to 45% energy loss saving you a gross 4-9% monthly.

Also checking to see if your house has adequate insulation is a must for both cold and hot weather as insufficient insulation and cracks leech out your precious climate controlled air. Check around windows, cracks under doors and anywhere else that feels drafty without a vent –these places are notorious for huge losses but can be easily patched.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure-it doesn’t take much effort to save a lot of money on your utilities and you’ll enjoy the savings and that comes with responsible utility usage.

To learn more, visit: ChooseToSave.org