Money Matters – More Savings: Utilities

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420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Summer is over. But we still have some wonderful days ahead, warm days.

Days where we do not need either the AC or the heat on. These are my favorite days each spring and fall. Look at your electric bill. You will see the pattern of lower costs in September and May. Then it spikes up in July and August with AC costs and again in the late fall when we turn the heat on.

There are ways you can control your energy costs. Indeed we want to be warm or cool depending on the time of year, we also want to be clean and we want our clothes to be clean. We want our lights, TVs and computers working.

In my research on saving on utilities I went to Popular Mechanics to see what they had to say on the subject. We have a friend who gives us his old copies so we don’t have to buy them, the articles are timeless, and we trade him our Time magazines.

To save on energy costs will require work on your part, but once you start saving money it becomes addictive. So what should you do before the first frost?

  • Get an energy audit. Contact MassSAVE 800-632-8300 and ask for a free energy audit
  • Get rid of the beer fridge. That old fridge in the garage that holds the extra drinks.
  • Unplug all of those chargers when not in use. Telephone, toothbrush, dust busters etc. or use a power strip that shuts them all down. They claim that 75% of energy use is when the electronics are turned off.
  • Upgrade windows and doors and take advantage of what’s left of the energy tax credit
  • Have your furnace serviced before you need to turn it on. Include on that list, your chimney flue, space heaters and fireplace.
  • Use a programmable thermostat, set it lower when you are asleep or not at home.
  • Weather strip around doors and windows. It comes with a self-adhesive backing.
  • Caulk around windows and sills. Easy to do with the new caulking guns.
  • Insulate, insulate, insulate. Be sure your attic is insulated. Here again this is not a hard job, just avoid falling through the ceiling when you are laying down the bats of insulation.
  • Insulate your water heater, especially old ones. Not hard to do!
  • Clear space around heat registers, appliance vents and return ducts.
  • Remove window air conditioners or cover the unit to prevent drafts.
  • Switch to Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs. They use 66% less energy than regular light bulbs. We have been slowly replacing all of our recessed lighting with the CFL bulbs. It does take a few seconds for the lights to come on but you do get used to that.
  • Consider a new furnace or water heater if yours is over 15 years old.
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