Save Energy and Save Money

Utility bills, like death and taxes, are one of life's few certainties. Homeowners can reduce their utility bills, however, with a few simple steps, says the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®. Saving money is a priority for most of us, but reducing our energy needs is also good for the environment. The following energy saving tips are brought to you by the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®.

WATER BILLS: Your shower is one of the easiest places to cut down on water use. Install a low-flow nozzle to save up to 50 percent usage. A shower head with its own on/off switch makes it easy to conserve water while soaping up.

Leaky faucets and toilets are some of the biggest water wasters. A leaking faucet can waste up to 25 gallons daily! Most repairs are simple, so don't delay.

There are dozens of other ways to conserve water; you just need to think about them. Before beginning any household chore that requires water, stop and consider how you could use less or combine tasks. For example, don't leave the water running when washing your car. Use the "grey water" from the final laundry rinse for watering the garden.

ELECTRIC BILLS: Simply turning out the lights will make a difference. Also, replace high wattage bulbs with energy conserving bulbs. Set appliances, such as your dishwasher, on low-energy setting.

Don't locate heat-producing appliances, like a stove or dishwasher, next to a refrigerator or freezer. Heat will cause cooling equipment to work harder.

Install electric water heaters as close as possible to the kitchen and bathrooms. This will mean shorter pipes and less heat lost as water travels through them. If long pipes are necessary, wrap them in insulation. Use cold water whenever you can--it requires no energy.

Check your home's insulation. Do you need weather stripping around your windows and doors? If you can feel air coming in, the answer is yes. Keep fireplace dampers closed when not is use so heated or cooled air can't escape.

Keep vents and doors closed in infrequently used rooms. Heating or cooling unused rooms is a waste of energy and money.

GAS BILLS: Many of the tips provided for saving on electric bills also apply to gas appliances. In addition, gas heat is nearly immediate; when cooking, don't waste energy with lengthy pre-heating. Regularly clean and adjust your gas heater so that the flame is blue.

Homeowners who truly are committed to saving on their energy bills should consider an energy audit. A complete energy audit will show you many ways to conserve energy and money. Call your utility company to find out if they offer free audits. To get the most out of a free inspection, prepare a list of questions in advance. Private firms can conduct a more in-depth audit should you choose to go that route. Check the internet for a listing of private firms that may provide this service in our area.

"Saving energy is important," said the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®. "Saving money, however, is a great side benefit."