Image: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Ryan C. Delcore [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One of the best ways to start saving money each month is to cut back on your utility expenses. The amount that you spend on utilities will of course vary depending on where you live and the age and size of your home. But even if you’re familiarity with tools is limited, there are certain things that you can do to slash those monthly bills.
If you’re not ready to mount solar panels or install a rain catcher yet, that’s ok. You don’t need to break the bank to find some relief with your utility bills. Here are just five do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that can bring your household significant savings on your home utilities.
1. Get a Programmable Thermostat
According to the U.S. Energy Department, you could save as much as 10% on your electric bill each month just by installing a programmable thermostat. One of these thermostats can allow you to schedule temperature differences in your home for when you are either away or asleep.
For example, setting the thermostat for a 7°-10°F difference when you aren’t awake or away, could save a significant amount of money each month. The best thing about a programmable thermostat is that it’s simple to both install and program.
2. Seal Exterior Windows
If you have either air coming in from the outside or air leaking out from inside your home, you’re not operating efficiently. One way to address this problem is to inspect and seal all of the exterior windows on your home.
When you inspect your windows, look for pooling moisture around the window’s bottom corners. You can also approach your window with a small candle and see if the flame flickers around the window’s seams. If a seal requires replacement, you’ll need to remove the old seal and then replace the seal with a silicone-based caulk.
3. Add Some Insulation
Another way to save on home utilities is to beef up your home’s insulation. This may seem like a monumental task, but that’s only the case if you plan to tear down the walls and re-insulate behind your drywall. Since most of your home’s wasted heat escapes from the attic, this is where you should concentrate your efforts.
Fiberglass insulation is very affordable, so measure out the space in your attic and purchase some DIY insulation at your local hardware store. Energy Star estimates that this simple project could save you as much as 20% on your heating and cooling bill each month.
4. Seal Air Leaks in Ductwork
While you’re in the attic, take the time to tackle another energy-saving project – your leaky ductwork. Energy Star reports that homes with forced air systems could lose as much as 20% to 30% of the air passing through to leaks.
Inspect your ductwork and look for any areas with rips, tears, or separations. Most of these can be repaired with sealant, metal tape, or good old fashioned duct tape.
5. Insulate Your Water Heater
If you have an older water heater, it’s probably not insulated and could be wasting energy. Water heaters keep water “hot” and on standby, which requires the expenditure of energy. An insulation jacket, which is cheap, can reduce standby heat losses by 25%-45% and save you as much as 16% on the cost to heat water.
When you are looking to save money on your utilities, search for areas that waste air first and then tackle water-saving projects. There are many DIY projects that can help you save money each month, and these are just a few of the primary ones to get you started.