BOSTON (CBS) – Our electric bills are going up despite oil prices coming down. Here are some reasonable ways to save on your utilities.

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Insulate your hot-water heater. Installing an “insulating jacket” is a simple DIY project. It only costs about $30 and usually results in a savings of $20 to $45 per year. So the pay back is one year or less.

Seal around outlets and switches. Stop chilly drafts by installing inexpensive foam gaskets, available at most home improvement centers. This is really easy to do and I know this because I did it.

Test for a tight seal on your refrigerator. Get a dollar bill and close the door on the bill. If you can easily pull the dollar out the seal needs replacing. You may even be able to feel the cool air escaping.

Reduce air-conditioning costs. You can reduce your costs by as much as 10% by keeping your AC condensers and window units shaded, perhaps by installing an overhead awning.

Also if possible when you get new AC installed place the condensers on the north side of the house and not the south side. Planting shrubs or bushes to provide shade will help also.

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Clean or replace air conditioner filters. Replace at least once a month when the AC is in use. You can buy permanent filters at home improvement stores that can easily be cleaned with a garden hose and reused.

Whole-house HVAC. You want to inspect your ductwork carefully and seal any seams or gaps, to reduce the amount of chilled or heated air escaping through the ductwork by up to 20 percent. Easy to do if the duct work is exposed in the basement.

Duct tape works really well on this job. Every home owner should have duct tape in her tool box along with a can of WD-40.

Heating a small amount of water for tea. AARP suggests when making just a cup of tea use an inexpensive electric tea pot like your grandmother had. They do work well but so does a microwave which most of us already own.


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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