5 On Your Side

Put Money in Your Pocket, Not the Utility Company's

Posted January 30, 2007

Want to save on energy costs?

Start in the laundry room. Heating water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used by a washing machine. Wash your clothes in cold water and save as much as 30 percent.

Don't over-dry your laundry. You won't need to iron as much, and your clothes will hold up better if you take them out of the dryer while they're still a little damp.

Another money-saver is at the thermostat, provided you don't have a heat pump. Adjust it before you go to sleep or leave the house.

"For every degree that you lower your thermostat in the winter, or raise it in the summer, you'll save about 3 percent on your energy costs," said Consumer Reports' Jim Nanni.

If you have a heat pump, it's more energy-efficient to leave the thermostat in one place.

Before central heating and air conditioning, there were blinds and windows. This time of year, open those blinds to let the sun help heat your home.

Setting the water heater to the "low" setting, or 120 degrees, means you'll spend less for hot water.

Even your computer can help you save. If you keep it on "standby" mode instead of leaving it on day and night, the computer will use 80 percent less electricity.

You can save in the kitchen, too.

"Instead of rinsing your dishes, let the dishwasher do the work. You'll save about 20 gallons of water, as well as the energy needed to heat that water," Nanni said.

Opt for the microwave when re-heating your food. You could use as much as 80 percent less energy than it would take to use the oven for that job.

When you use your stove, pick a pan that's roughly the same size as the element or burner. You'll use much less energy than you would with a mis-matched burner and pan.

And pull out the crock pot. Slow cooking in a crock pot uses a lot less energy than simmering on the stove.

Consumer Reports has this information and more available free on its Web site.

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  • Gottalovemy4dogs Feb 1, 2007

    Honestly, I went through a period of doing most of there various money saving steps and found that while the utility bills were lower, I didn't save enough to justify not being as warm or cool as I'd like. But this would work for the super-frugal!

  • todd75m Feb 1, 2007

    Still never understood the leave the heat pump on b/c it'll cost less. Yes it'll run hard to warm the house back up, but basic physics tells you that a greater differential in heat the greater the heat transfer.. So the warmer your house is at any given time you lose more heat (there is absolutely no arguement with that!!). Heat which has to be replaced. So maybe mythbusters should take that one on!! Use a programmable thermostat. I did and it saves loads!!

  • browneyedgirl Jan 31, 2007

    Gas sucks! It's too expensive, I'd rather just go with electric everything.

  • DurhamDude Jan 31, 2007

    The electric companies typically have rate structures too, which ultimately are because of usage. If you have an all electric house you can get a cheaper rate than if you use gas to heat your water or also use gas to heat your house.

  • 68_polara Jan 31, 2007

    As you should be upset about being charged more for conserving energy. I had propane and the supplier did the same thing. I wasn't using their minimum propane usage so they tagged on an 80 dollar a year tank rental. I stuck to them, I heat with wood now. It's a lot work but I'm young and I actually enjoy it. When I get tired of using wood, as everyone seems to after a few years, I think I'll try a pellet stove. From what I understand the pellets are made from corn or wood so they don't contribute to globe warming.

  • owlady Jan 31, 2007

    Yes, I tried to lower my gas hot water bill and save energy, but then PSNC Energy raised my Gas rate to 110 -Residential Standard because of low gas usage in the summer months!! I am still upset about this!