Housing is none too affordable in the state of Connecticut, with the average home value weighing in at approximately $270,000. Even people who are able to swing a purchase are still up against the affordability factor because the cost of owning a home is about more than the mortgage payment. In honor of American Housing Month, here are some easy, inexpensive things recommended by Eversource that homeowners can do to lower the cost of running a household.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when you are home in the winter, and lower the temperature when you go to bed or are away from home. For every degree you lower your thermostat, you save about two percent off your heating bill.
- Cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent a year by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours a day.
- Weatherize your home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows. Also use locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant.
- Keep through-the-window air conditioners out of the sun (preferably installing them on a north-facing wall). Over the winter, cover them to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.
- Find ways to cut air leaks, most commonly happening around floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets. This could cut 10 percent from an average household’s monthly energy bill. To make windows more energy efficient, caulk exterior joints, put shrink wrap on them or hang blackout curtains.
- Don’t block your radiators or heating/cooling vents with furniture or draperies. Keep radiators, registers and baseboard heaters dirt- and dust-free. Close vents and doors in unused rooms.
- Have your heating system serviced once a year and regularly replace furnace filters. During the heating season, change or clean furnace filters once a month.
- In the summertime, use an exhaust fan to blow hot air out of your kitchen while you’re cooking. The savings on your cooling costs far outweigh the electricity used by the fan. Also, take lukewarm showers and baths to avoid humid air, which holds more heat.
- Close blinds, drapes and shades during the hottest part of the day; allow sun to shine in from south-facing windows during the winter.
- Use your microwave or countertop appliances for cooking instead of the oven or stove.
Here are a few more pointers from the American Bankers Association:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. This will save you about $6 a year in electricity per bulb.
- Save water. If you toilet was installed prior to the mid-1990s, there’s a cost-effective way to turn it into a low-flow unit. Fill a one-liter plastic bottle with water and place it inside the tank. This will reduce your water use per flush. The average U.S. household (2.64 people) equipped with low-flow toilets saves 25 gallons of water per day, or more than 9,000 gallons per year.
- Ensure your refrigerator runs efficiently by keeping the fan clean. The motor won’t have to work as hard if the fan is clear of debris.
- Eliminate vampire energy loss. On or off, anything plugged into the wall sucks energy. Vampire power costs U.S. consumers more than $3 billion a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Unplug your electronics and small appliances when they’re not in use. Or, plug lots of cords into a single power strip and then simply flip the switch when you leave the house.
- Make sure heating and cooling ducts are not blocked by debris. Vacuum your vents regularly and replace filters so air can flow freely.