I used to hate how my father would nag me to shut off the light whenever I left my room — even if I was only going to kitchen to grab a snack. (Okay, so I usually got sidetracked and played with the puppies, chatted with my sister, checked to see what had come in the mail…but still!) Or when he told us not to stand in front of the fridge gazing at our options as all the cold air wafted out. Come on, Dad. Lighten up!
But the truth is that sometimes as you grow up, you realise your parents were right about some things. The average household wastes a ton of energy, resources, and money by committing several common, money-sucking sins that could be fixed just by changing our habits.
Is your household guilty of any of these money wasters?
Leaving the lights (and the appliances, and the computer) on when you’re not using them. It makes sense to flip the light switch when you leave a room. But what about letting your computer go into sleep mode so it’s ready to “wake up” whenever you want to check your email? Or keeping the toaster or coffee pot plugged in when they’re not running?
Believe it or not, all of these things can drain energy, which means your utility bills are slowly climbing even as these items sit unused. So either unplug or invest in a power strip that will prevent unused appliances from sapping your electricity.
Leaving the water running. Whether you’re brushing your teeth or washing the dishes, only leave the tap on when you’re actually using it. Otherwise, it’s money down the drain. (Oh, and those long, hot showers you love so much? You may want to save them for a treat now and then and make your day-to-day showers a bit quicker.)
Holding on to old appliances. Sure, that 1950’s refrigerator your grandmother passed down to you works, but how much energy is it leaking? What about your 1980’s dishwasher or your 1990’s washing machine — are they using water efficiently? Upgrading to Energy Star® appliances, while they’re more costly upfront, could save you tons in the long run. (Plus they’re so much better for the environment.)
Not keeping things in good working order. “An ounce of prevention,” as the saying goes…
It may be a pain to clean your heating ducts and air conditioning unit filters, and you may never think to change your vacuum filters until suddenly the suction stops working. But taking a little extra time for maintenance can save you loads down the line. Just ask anyone who ignored the leaves building up in their gutters until suddenly an entire downspout fell off the house in a rainstorm.
Not fixing things that are broken. Hand in hand with regular maintenance is seeing to repairs straightaway. That little faucet leak may not seem like much now, but it’s much better to have fixed when you first notice it, before it develops into a larger plumbing problem with a much steeper repair bill.
Ignoring that draft. Do your curtains move when it’s windy outside — and the windows are closed? Why spend money to heat your house when half that money is leaking right back outside again? Make sure that windows are properly caulked and weather stripped, exterior doors have draft guards, and your attic (if you have one) is well insulated.
Overdoing it on the heating and cooling. We all want to be comfortable in our own homes; there’s nothing wrong with that. But could you be just as cozy in a sweater or cuddled under a blanket as you could with the furnace turned way up? Could you make use of cooler parts of your home (those facing away from the sun) or spend some time in the pool during the hottest parts of summer days, rather than cranking up the A/C?
-Investing in a programmable thermostat that automatically regulates your home’s temperature (especially when you’re away) can be another easy way to cut back on those utility bills.
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