University of Texas at El Paso

Tips to Save Energy, Lower Utility Bills

For anyone who thinks contributing to a cleaner environment means inconvenience and sacrifice, there’s good news: Doing a few simple things in your own home can help reduce pollution and waste. Making these changes can help you save money, too, according to two new publications from the Federal Trade Commission, developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy.

More than half of monthly utility bills goes toward heating and cooling your home, running major appliances, and heating your water. Routine maintenance and minor changes in how you use your appliances can reduce utility bills and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Here’s how you can use energy more efficiently and cut costs:

•Keep air vents, baseboard heaters and radiators unrestricted by furniture, carpet or curtains. It makes the air flow more easily. If baseboard heaters have movable vents, keep them open during the winter and closed during the summer.

•Schedule annual tune-ups for your heat pump, furnace or boiler. Maintenance checks can help keep this equipment running smoothly and efficiently.

•Shade room air conditioners from the sun to reduce their workload and clean or change the filters on a regular basis. Lower the temperature setting when you go out.

•If possible, locate your refrigerator away from heat sources like the stove, dishwasher and heat vents. Vacuum the coils every three months; dirt buildup makes the machine work harder to keep the contents cool. Check the door gaskets for air leaks. If ice buildup in the freezer is more than 1/4 inch thick, defrost.

•Preheat the oven only when the recipe specifically calls for it and turn off the oven shortly before the recipe suggests. The heat in the oven can finish the job.

•Cook in pots that fit the size of your stove top burners to cut energy waste. Using lids on your pans means you can lower the temperatures and reduce the energy used.

•Scrape but don’t pre-rinse your dishes by hand if you have a dishwasher that automatically pre-rinses or has a rinse/hold cycle. Save time and water.

•Match the water level and temperature settings on your clothes washer to the size of the load. Follow manufacturers’ directions for other energy saving hints.

•Remember to clean clothes dryer filters after each use.

•Lower the temperature setting on your water heater. Many thermostats are preset at the factory at 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees will save you 15 percent of your water heating energy.

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