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Four ways to trim the energy bill this winter

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Water heater

MONEY SAVING — Lowering water heater temperatures is one way homeowners can save considerable amounts of money on winter utility costs.

The cost of home ownership can be considerable. One of the expenses that hits first-time homeowners the hardest upon moving into their new homes is the monthly energy bill. While utility bills for apartment dwellers rarely break the bank, those bills grow considerably when men and women are suddenly lighting, heating, and cooling an entire house.

Come winter, utility bills can be especially harsh on homeowners’ budgets. But there are some simple ways to trim utility bills no matter how low the mercury dips in the coming months.

1. Embrace technology.

Technology can help homeowners control energy costs in various ways. A programmable thermostat allows men and women to determine when their homes’ thermostats turn on so they are not paying to heat an empty home. In addition to programmable thermostats, homeowners can purchase real-time electricity monitors that allow them to track usage and monitor individual rooms and circuits so they can determine where in their homes, if anywhere, they are needlessly wasting energy. In lieu of a porch light you need to leave on all night, install motion-detecting lights so you aren’t paying to light porches and walkways that are not being used.

2. Inspect windows and doors.

Windows and doors are often to blame when energy bills start to skyrocket. As homes age, cracks can develop around windows and doors, allowing precious and expensive heat to escape. Caulk around any windows that have cracks (you may feel a draft around such windows) and replace ineffective weatherstripping around doors, which is noticeable if light is visible around doors’ edges.

3. Cover the water heater.

Water heaters can quickly lose heat, and that can contribute to higher heating bills as winter temperatures plunge. Water heater blankets are an inexpensive yet effective investment, as they can help water heaters retain heat longer, producing lower heating bills as a result.

4. Lower the water heater temperature.

Speaking of water heaters, changing their temperature is another simple way to lower utility costs during the winter. According to Energy.gov, homeowners can save between $12 and $30 for each 10-degree reduction in water heater temperature. Many manufacturers set water heaters at 140 degrees, but setting the heater to 120 degrees can lead to considerable cost savings without sacrificing comfort.

An added and cost-effective benefit to lowering water heater temperature is that a lower temperature slows mineral buildup and corrosion in water heaters and pipes, reducing the likelihood of costly repairs while extending the life of the water heater.

Winter temperatures can be harsh on homeowners and their wallets. But there are many ways for homeowners to reduce their energy bills no matter how cold it may get this winter.