Published on November 10th, 2011 | by Karen Lee

Saving Energy on The Joy Cardin Show

Save Money on Utility Bills

Save Money on Utility Bills

I was a guest on Wisconsin’s Public Radio’s, The Joy Cardin Show, talking about cutting energy bill and saving money in the winter.

The energy topic is very important to Wisconsinites as its average winter temperature in 2010 was 16.6 °F. So saving energy this winter is on everyone’s mind as it means saving money. And especially in this slow economy, who wouldn’t want to do everything they can to hold on to their had earned money, even if you don’t live in Wisconsin?

Here are some energy saving ideas that we talked about and what smart listeners of The Joy Cardin show are already doing to save their utility bills. Some are simple tasks and some may require professionals but the initial investment is worth the cost savings in the long run.

Power Meter

Buy a power meter and monitor which appliances are draining energy unnecessarily. And monitor how much vampire power you are using when the appliances are turned off. Use a power strip to plug in multiple appliances and turn them off with one on/off switch when you are not using them.

Use a Smart Strip that automatically shuts off everything that are plugged into the strip. ~Cesar

Cesar takes using a power strip to the next level by using a “Smart Strip“. For extra few bucks, you can buy a “Smart Strip” that shuts off the power to the strip and turns off the plugged in appliances automatically when you power them down. So, there’s no vampire power being used and you don’t have to turn the power strip off manually.

Install a power meter to the electrical box that powers up the whole house. It tells you which appliance use how much energy in the whole house from just one gadget. ~James

This would be ideal if you know how to install one. But if you don’t,  you can hire an electrician to install one for you. The initial investment is minimal, compared to the money savings in the long run.

Peak and Off-Peak Hour Usage

Wisconsin Energy has peak and off-peak hour rates and we try to do our chores during the off-peak hours and it saves a lot of money, like doing laundry.~Sara

Most utility companies have peak and off-peak hour rates so check with your utility company for the times. Using appliances and doing chores like washing dishes and doing laundry during off-peak hours not only save you money but it also puts less strain on the power grid.

Keep the warm air in and cold air out

 We are replacing the worn out rubber seal on our front door to keep the cold air out. ~Joy

Heating your home takes up to 50-70% of your energy bill. Keeping the warm air in and cold air out is one of the simplest things you can do to lower your energy bill. Replace worn out rubber seals underneath all doors and don’t forget the garage door and windows.

We bought inexpensive inside snap-in glazed storm windows that are easy to install. ~Herman

Storm windows or double panes windows are great investment if you need to replace your windows. But if window replacement is not within your budget, buying or making inside storm windows is a great option. Many window manufacturers have inside storm windows. Check here and here or  your local home improvement centers for easy to install inside storm windows. If you are handy, you can easily make snap-in inside storm windows at a fraction of the cost. Not handy? You can even use bubble wraps to line your existing window panes to insulate your windows for free since you can usually find them on Freecycle or from furniture stores for nothing.

Plug in any holes and cracks where cold air can blow in. ~Dave

Along with replacing worn out rubber seals for doors, sealing holes and cracks prevent cold air from coming in. Check vents and fans on walls that ventilate indoor air to the outside, like cooking fans. Check holes where cables or electrical wiring come into the house since they can deteriorate over time. Also check for gaps around attic access hatches and pull-down stairs.

Save on hot water

Install a timer on hot water tank. ~Ron

Up to 13% of your heating bill is to heat hot water. And since water is being kept at a constant temperature whether you are using it or nor, it uses up energy unnecessarily.  If you need to replace your hot water tank, look into solar water tank and tank-less water tank. But if you are not going to replace it, you can do simple maintenance to improve its performance. Insulate the tank with a water tank blanket. You can also insulate the pipe coming out of the tank. Also to save hot water, you can wash your laundry in COLD water. It’ll save you as much as $70 per year in utility bills. Leave the temperature at 120°F which is hot enough for the dishwasher. And as Ron stated, you can install a timer on the hot water tank to turn it ‘on’ an hour before use and ‘off’ an hour after use. You would need an electrician to install a timer but, again, the initial investment will be worth the money you will save in the future.

Programmable Thermostat

 I just have to program it! ~Joy

For every 1°F you lower your temperature, you will save 2% of your energy bill. So if you set your temperature 5°F lower this winter, you’ll save 10% of your heating bill. There are many programmable thermostats. Some are as easy as a touch of a button to program and Energy Star thermostats come with winter and summer temperatures already programmed. But the latest concept in the ultimate smart thermostats are the ones that you can program remotely. You can program from your computer wherever you are. You can also analyze your heating and cooling systems to see if they are working properly. And it even tells you how to save money on your heating and cooling bills. You need a professional electrician to install them but the investment is worth the savings in the long run.

Don’t use a dryer

Line dry my cloths, even in the winter. ~Sara

Drying your cloths on a clothesline costs $0. The sun is the best disinfectant and a bleach. So like Sara, drying your clothes naturally not only costs nothing to but it also saves your clothes from getting worn out by tumbling around in a dryer. If outside clothesline is not an option, you can always dry your clothes half way and dry them on a drying rack, indoors. If drying cloths naturally is out of the question, still, and you have an older model dryer, replacing it with Energy Star model is the next best cost-saving solution. In general, Energy Star appliances use 10-15% less energy.

Miscellaneous tips

  • Don’t use your fireplace for heating. Fireplace is inefficient as most of the heat goes up the chimney and does not heat the room efficiently.
  • Change incandescent light bulbs to CFL or LED light bulbs.
  • Reverse ceiling fan blades in the winter to recirculate the warm air down and cold air up.
  • If you do use a dryer, clean out the lint screen with every load and clean out the duct system.

We would like to thank the producers of The Joy Cardin show inviting Green Living Ideas, Joy Cardin for hosting a great program and  the call-in listeners who shared their great energy saving tips with us. Not only is saving money important but saving energy is just as important since it affects the planet. And I am more than grateful for the opportunity to have been a guest on the show.

You can listen to The Joy Cardin Show every morning from 6am to 9am CST, on a variety of topics. You can search for this particular segment by going to the Archives. You can also find Joy on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have energy saving tips you would like add? Please share with us in the comment box below.


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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

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