Four simple tips to save on energy bills

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Living on your own in college isn’t cheap. Rent and bills only pile onto the costs of tuition, books and privilege fees. Plus it’s always nice to have some extra pocket money. So here are some simple, everyday ways to cut out some of the expenses in those pricey electric and water bills.

1. Manage the temperature

Research conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2009 indicated that roughly 42 percent of electricity consumed in a residence is used for heating or cooling the house.

“A general rule of thumb is that every time you raise or lower the temperature in your apartment by one degree, it makes a 1 percent difference on your energy bill,” Ben Champion, K-State director of sustainability, said. “This cost can be decreased instantly by turning off the air conditioner and opening windows on more pleasant days.”

According to consumersenergy.com, using an extra blanket while you sleep as opposed to turning the heat up is an excellent way to save on heating expenses. During colder months, check for and block air leakages such as unused sockets, cracks, crevices on window frames and skirting boards that allow for hot air to escape.

“You don’t always need to make big changes to save on energy,” Champion said. “A lot of the time it’s the little things that will add up and end up saving you more money.”

2. Turn off the TV

When it comes to saving on electric bills, the easiest and most efficient way to cut costs is by unplugging appliances when not in use. When plugged in, appliances – especially DVRs and TVs – continue to use energy even after the off button is pushed. In reality the off button does nothing but put the electronic device on standby, and while turning off each individual appliance can be annoying, not doing so is racking up the electricity bill.

However, there is an simple fix. Plugging electronic devices into a power strip with surge protection makes it easy to unplug everything at once. This reduces the amount of time and effort it takes to make sure the house is completely shut down at the end of the day.

According to “Standby Power,” a project of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory dedicated to providing information on appliances on standby power and technologies to reduce it, around five percent of electricity spent on appliances is used to power them when on standby. Completely turning off these appliances could lead to savings between $10 to $15 on a $100 electric bill.

3. Making the simple switches

According to Design Recycle Inc., switching from the regular incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs can save you approximately $300 per year on energy bills.

“When buying products, it’s always good to check for the Energy Star ratings and buy more efficient products” Champion said.

A lot of money can be saved on energy bills by simply switching to products that use energy more efficiently.

“Compact fluorescent bulbs are more expensive than regular light bulbs but consume 70 percent less energy, so the savings are visible pretty soon,” Champion said.

4. Using the dishwasher

Washing dishes by hand is a waste of both time and money. You can actually save more than $40 per year by using a dishwasher when doing the house’s dishes. According to Energy Star, a dishwasher can not only prevent you from spending more than 230 hours per year at the sink, but also save you more than $40 a year in energy costs.

Recent versions of dishwashers are not only more effective at cleaning a large number of dishes at the same time, but are also able to do so using less water than it would take to individually wash, scrub and rinse the dishes. In turn, this saves more than 5,000 gallons of water per year.

None of these changes, except installing a dishwasher if a house lacks one already, take up too much time or effort to put into practice. And even if it seems like a waste of time, not doing so is an even bigger waste on your wallet.

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