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Keep bills cool in heat of summer

Dear Heather,

It's so hot this summer, I don't feel I can go without air conditioning, but it's so expensive to run! Have you got any ideas on keeping my electricity bill low?

Feeling Hot!

Dear Feeling Hot,

Electricity is a utility that we take for granted. There are a lot of places around the world that don't have good electrical infrastructures and the fact that we only lose power during natural disasters is actually pretty awesome. That said, electricity can also be expensive. Here are ten easy hacks to help you save money on energy:

1. Insulate your windows

Your windows can be the bane of your existence. During the summer, the heat will come in almost unimpeded, although it is somewhat improved if you have double glazing. You can fix this! Use blinds or curtains with a thermal lining, They won't let as much sunlight in but it will help keep the heat out. This can help save you money on your utility bill because your cooling won't have to work so hard to keep your house at a comfortable temperature. Another good idea is a draft stopper at the base of the door, which helps stop the cold air getting out.

2. Pack your freezer more tightly

When you open your freezer, all the freezing cold air is going to come out. That means when you close it the freezer has to produce more and that can get expensive over time. A way to prevent this is to pack your freezer full of stuff. You can do things like bags of ice or even newspaper if you have it lying around. When your freezer is packed, it keeps the cold air in. That means your freezer works less and uses less electricity.

3. Air dry your clothes

There really isn't an efficient way to wash your clothes by hand (nor has there ever been) so telling people to not use a washer is impractical. Although if you wash in cold water you can avoid a lot of the energy cost. There aren't any benefits of using hot water to cold water (unless you have some seriously dirty clothes) so you're not missing out on much. Dryers, on the other hand, can be removed from the equation entirely and it's all good. By air drying your clothes, you're essentially cutting out all of the electricity that the dryer uses. A dryer uses a lot of energy due to its heating element and the mechanism to spin the drum. Save money by putting up a clothes line and hanging up wet clothes to dry.

4. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs

Light bulbs are among the most energy-hungry things people use. They don't use a lot of electricity on their own, however when you have half a dozen lights on all day and night, things start adding up. Apparently CFL light bulbs use up to 75 per cent less energy. That means every four days a CFL bulb stays on it uses as much energy as a regular lightbulb does for one.

5. Turn off your power strip that your electronics are connected to

Even if your electronics are turned off, they're still sapping energy. They're called “vampire devices” because they keep a little bit of electricity going so they can respond more quickly to things like being turned back on. By turning off the power strip you cut off all electricity to your electronics so they don't use electricity without you realising.

6. Air conditioning

By turning your thermostat up in the summer, you can save literally hundreds of dollars a year in utility expenses. Cooling is easily the most expensive thing in your house if you use air conditioners constantly. Or if you have a modern air conditioner, switch it to dehumidify, it keeps the room cool for a fraction of the cost.

7. Get solar panels

One of the best ways to save electricity is to produce your own. There are payment plans available to get solar panels put on your house. The panels contribute back to the electric grid and your electric bill will be much less. If they're not producing enough energy, you'll just use the electric as normal. Harnessing the power of the sun, it can require investment upfront but is a great way to save money and go green.

8. Manage your ceiling fans

If you use your ceiling fan correctly you can save a lot of money. When the air blows down, it helps cool the room and keep you comfortable. Using this and turning your AC to dehumidify can save a lot of money. In the winter you turn the fan the other way. Then it pulls cold air up and away to help keep you warm. Admittedly, it's more effective in the winter than in the summer but every little bit helps, right?

9. Plant trees!

According to sources, planting trees near the south and southeastern parts of your house can save you money every year. During the summer the sun will beat down on your house, which heats it up. With the trees in place, the sun's harsh rays can't make it to your house and that helps keep things cooler. Plus, trees look nice.

10. Adjust the thermostat on your water heater

Go through your house, how many water heaters do you have? Do you have water heaters that supply a bathroom you rarely use? Or one that supplies the children's bathroom and they are away at school? Unplug it. Turn the thermostat down on all your water heaters and, if you have one that feeds just your bathroom, put a timer on it to heat up an hour in the morning and an hour at night. Modern-day water heaters are well insulated, the water will remain warm enough to be comfortable all day. Unplug the water heater if you go away.

None of these hacks are going to save you all that much money on their own however if you combine them and keep an eye on the obvious stuff (turn off lights when you leave a room), you can save a pretty substantial amount of money year round. If you're going to try one of these, keep at it!

It doesn't help if you only do these things once or twice. The most important thing is consistency.

Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty's leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

Cold hard cash: packing your freezer full of stuff is a way of preventing the cold air escaping, keeping your bills down

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Published August 16, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 15, 2016 at 11:34 pm)

Keep bills cool in heat of summer

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