Lower Your Utility Bills by Following These Four Steps

No one likes to have higher utility bills, which means that everyone should want to improve their home's energy efficiency. (Of course, there's also the added benefit of helping to conserve the planet's resources!) That being said, wanting to save energy and actually doing it are two different things. Many people might not know how they can reduce their energy usage beyond simply turning things off. Luckily, improving your home in a few key areas can greatly reduce your energy impact. Here are four steps that will help any household lower its utility bills.

Reveal weaknesses with a home energy assessment

If you're serious about taking your energy efficiency to the next level, then you might want to start the process with a professional home energy assessment (AKA energy audit). During this inspection, a skilled evaluator will examine your home from top to bottom to determine where the areas of greatest energy loss are located. For example, the audit may reveal that air is escaping the home through a warped exterior door or an incorrectly installed window. The cost of the audit varies depending on the specific service and the size of your home, but typically sets you back a few hundred dollars. Don't worry too much about the price, as you should be able to easily recoup that money after fixing the energy issues it reveals.

Take control of air flow

One of the most energy-intense activities in any home is cooling the interior during the summer and heating it during the winter. You can greatly improve the efficiency of these systems by reducing unwanted air flow with added insulation and the sealing of cracks in ducts and exterior openings (an assessment will greatly aid this process). You should also consider a smart thermostat, which will tailor your HVAC usage according to your schedule.

Update water-wasting fixtures and appliances

I've written before about the massive amounts of water (and money) that many people are letting run down the drain by failing to replace their outdated toilets, showerheads, and faucets. Old washing machines and dishwashers are two more appliances that are often guilty of wasting huge amounts of water. Replacing all of these items can save you hundreds of dollars per year in water bills.

LED bulbs are no joke

Say it with me: "I will not buy incandescent light bulbs." If you're still using those old-fashioned bulbs, then you're quite literally burning through electricity. Incandescent bulbs get very hot as electricity runs through the filament inside the bulb, and that heat both wastes energy and causes the bulb to burn out quickly. Replacing all of your traditional bulbs with LED bulbs will not only reap huge energy savings, but also save you time in the form of fewer bulb changes. Right about now, some of you are probably thinking, "But LEDs cost way more money!" Luckily, I'm here to tell you that your reasoning is flawed. In reality, LEDs easily pay for themselves by lasting much longer and using much less electricity for the same amount of light.

These are just a few tips that can greatly improve your home's energy efficiency. For more great information about home energy audits and energy-saving strategies, watch the short video below from the U.S. Department of Energy!