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Energy and Money Saving Tips on Cooling and Heating Your Home

As one who is contemplating purchasing a house in the upcoming year, I've considered the complaints and woes of my homeowner friends regarding heating and cooling costs. I am surrounded by very old houses, so, this is a real issue.
08/05/2014 04:57pm ET | Updated October 5, 2014
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As one who is contemplating purchasing a house in the upcoming year, I've considered the complaints and woes of my homeowner friends regarding heating and cooling costs. I am surrounded by very old houses, so, this is a real issue. So I decided to get a head-start and research some of my options and find ways to save on heating and cooling bills. Depending on whether one uses gas or electricity, (oil is very expensive and solar is an emerging energy saving concept) there are several ways to cut several hundred dollars monthly using the following strategies. Please note: These strategies may not appeal to everyone for time, convenience and energy as well as geographical locations. For example, someone on the West coast may not need to heat their homes as frequently as those on the East coast. If the convenience outweighs the savings, which it may in many cases, then pick and choose wisely. Remember, even when your electronics are in "off" mode, they still draw power.

Reduce Your Electric Bill by Regulating the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater

The hot water heater runs 24/7 as it maintains the temperature set for the water, but to really save on electric costs, one should plan on only using hot water at specific times and on a stable temperature.

Cut Costs on Your Heating Bill by Regulating Your Thermostat

To cut costs on heating your home, check the temperatures of your thermostat . Energy savings can be significant when putting your thermostat to an ideal setting. Mark Lee from Assured Climate Heating and Cooling, states "70 degrees is an ideal temperature setting in the heating mode, the outdoor temperature should not effect this provided the system is maintained and working properly. In snow storms and ice storms it is very important to keep your outdoor unit clear of ice and snow, this will help the unit defrost itself in heavy snow and ice you need to help it out a little by turning off the system and pouring buckets of hot water over the unit. I know this is inconvenient but it helps the life of your system."

Reduce Heating Costs by Turning Off Your Heater

Turn off your heater...in the winter? Simply put, another way to cut electric costs, is to turn off the heater at the circuit breaker box when you're finished with your daily activities that involve hot water. Then turn it back on about 30-45 minutes before planning to shower and again off before going to bed if your routine includes a 30 minute or so gap between waking up and jumping in the shower. Although it takes a few days to develop this habit, the savings is immediate and very apparent on the electric bill.

Of course, each person's on and off times will vary according to schedule and use, but a lot of money is wasted on heating water that never gets used. One person I know was able to reduce her bill anywhere from $20-$40 monthly. Please note: This savings strategy may work for an electric hot-water heater, but when done with a gas or fuel oil model by turning down the water temperature, the water temperature thermostat will get damaged and the thermostat might need to be replaced. Also, turning off the circuit breaker interrupts all the power going to anything in that circuit. The circuit breaker isn't designed to be turned on and off all the time.

Reduce Natural Gas Costs by Purchasing a Tankless Water Heater or Natural Gas on Demand

Initially, tankless water heaters are more expensive but the long term investment does pay back and the technology has been improving dramatically for the last five years. Also, the life span on a tankless water heater is longer. Add in also the cost of replacing a regular water heater during the lifespan of a tankless. Some do not make it past 15 years. Consider also the benefits such as cleaner water. The hot water in a regular tank causes mineral build-up.

Another friend replaced her 15 year old tank style electric hot water heater with a natural gas on demand. Her energy report stated she had decreased her electric usage by over $70! That was more than the monthly loan payment for the switch from electric to natural gas and most of the cost was covered by an energy efficiency rebate. If your refrigerator, water heater, washing machine, dryer or any other high energy appliance is more than 10 years old, consider having a power company to an energy assessment of your home.

If you have a household that is responsible and can limit water usage, the on-demand heaters offers big savings. This especially applies to a family with teenagers who enjoy hour long showers! Another thing to consider is household heat loss from poor venting design of old fashioned hot water heaters. The heat from one's house leaks from this vent 24/7 regardless of the use of the heaters. Another friend who recently remodeled her house, put a tankless heater in a location that was close to the kitchen and another put her tankless heater between the main baths and the kitchen.

Cutting on Cooling Costs - Regulate Your Home Temperature

What degree should you set your thermostat in the summer to save the most while also keeping your home cool?

One suggestion is to purchase a 7 day programmable thermostat, which can also cut cooling costs. With a programmable thermostat, you're able to establish different temperature settings each day and up to four time periods per day. Some brands have a vacation mode setting as well as an energy save button. Some thermostats do not switch automatically between heating and cooling, so check the manufacturer before purchasing. Some reported savings of $300 per month during their first full month of using it.

Mark Lee of Assured Climate Heating and Cooling says, "75 degrees is an ideal temperature setting in cooling mode, this temperature is comfortable yet not too harsh on the cooling system. If the outdoor temperature exceeds 95 degrees, I recommend the temperature to be set on 76 or 77 degrees. These settings are based on a system that has been maintained and is working properly and filters have been changed properly and the house is well insulated."

So there you have it. Energy and money saving costs to help you stay warmer and cooler while spending less money. Who wouldn't want to spend fewer dollars on what can be a money sucker service or system?