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Lower Your Electric Costs

Charlene Nelson
 July 13, 2022
 •

If you're trying to cut down on your electric bill, you're not alone. Reports in May show that inflation is up 8.6%, which is bad enough. But energy prices rose 3.9% from the previous month ago, bringing the annual gain to 34.6%. It 's doubtful that any of you are seeing an 8% increase in your pay, much less a 34% increase. That makes it even more important than ever to find ways to cut the energy costs in your home.

We've already talked about lowering the costs of heating your home [insert: http://stage.mydakotan.com/2022/06/lower-your-electric-bill/] and doing your laundry [insert: http://stage.mydakotan.com/2022/07/budget-wise-save-in-the-laundry-room/]. Now let's look at what we can do in the kitchen and the bathroom to bring those utility bills down.

Stay cool!
During the hot summer months, eat salads or barbecue meals outside and keep the kitchen cool. If you want a hot meal, use a crock pot, toaster oven or Instapot. instead of heating up the oven. A microwave can heat up food in about one-fourth the time it takes for an oven to heat the same food. Using smaller appliances to heat and cook meals keeps your kitchen cooler, thus reducing the cost of air conditioning. But, these appliances use a fraction of the energy to cook your food so you'll also get year-round savings.

Keep your oven closed
Every time you open an oven door while cooking, the temperature can drop by as much as 25° That means that the oven then has to use more electricity to bring the temperature back up, increasing your cooking time. Resist the urge to peak in side and instead rely on a timer, aroma and common cooking experience. If you want visual confirmation that your food is cooking as it should, look through the glass and use the oven light to see if the food is cooked.

When baking a series of batches, like cookies or muffins, have the next batch ready to go right next to the oven. Then as soon as you remove the tray of cookies, immediately put the next batch in and quickly close the door.

Seal up the refrigerator
Maintain clean, air-tight refrigerator door seals to keep the cold air in and warm air out. Replace worn or cracked door seals. It's a simple, inexpensive repair that will save you a lot.

Check your fridge's temperature
Take a look at your settings on the refrigerator. You may be spending money unnecessarily if you keep the fridge icy cold. Experts say that 35° to 38° will keep your food at peek freshness. Temperatures less than 35° are a needless waste of electricity. A fridge thermometer costs less than $5 and will let you know if you should adjust the fridge settings.

Keep your freezer full
All those packages of frozen veggies and meats you stockpiled during the pandemic are actually helping you save money. They act like the opposite of thermal mass (frigid mass?), keeping the freezer temperature colder. When your freezer starts looking empty fill it up, even if it's a bag of ice. The extra frozen mass will keep your freezer from having to work as hard, lowering the cost of running a freezer.

Air-dry your dishes
Opt-out of the heat-dry cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, crack open the door and let your
dishes air-dry. If your dishwasher has an air-dry option, use that instead of heat-dry. According to the California Energy Commission, air drying your dishes can reduce your dishwasher's energy use by 15% to 50%.

Fix the leaks
A leaky faucet can cost you a lot, especially if it's leaking hot water. Fixing a hot water leak in your faucet can save you money in both energy and water costs. For the same reason you should also turn the faucet off while shaving, washing hands or brushing teeth.

A running toilet can cost you hundreds in wasted water every year. If your toilet runs periodically, chances are good that the flush valve seal is worn or cracked. A replacement kit from the hardware store costs less than $10 repair and is a simple repair that will save you on your water bill.

Take shorter showers
Who doesn't like to indulge in the comfort of a hot, steaming shower? But your hot water heater is one of the biggest energy hogs in the house and that long, hot shower is a huge waste of both water and energy. If two people in your home cut their shower time by just one minute each, you could save as much as $30 over a year.

Switch out your shower head
Switch your regular shower head to a low-flow version. A low-flow shower head can cut down on water consumption by as much as 40%. Since that's all hot water, you're saving not just on the water bill but the electricity bill, as well.

Low-flow shower heads have gotten a bad reputation. That's because the first generation of low-flow shower heads merely reduced the water flow, giving you an anemic trickle of water. But today's low-flow versions use a mix of smaller apertures and air to create stronger pressure for a more pleasant shower.

Stay tuned next week for more ideas on how to lower your electricity bill.

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