Although taking steps to lower energy costs can sometimes prove expensive, there are things one can do to cut the cost of utilities.
Peabody city treasurer Jonna Munson said a couple of common culprits behind increased water bills are easy to figure out.
“Where we’ve had people with higher water bills is when they have a defective water softener or a dripping toilet,” Munson said.
Marion city administrator Roger Holter said although many people don’t think dripping faucets are a big deal, the low cost of parts to repair them can be saved within a month. Outside spigots can drip water as well.
“You want to check those,” he said.
Sometimes habits are wasteful.
“A lot of people, when they are brushing their teeth, will let the water run,” Holter said. “Turning it off and rinsing the sink after brushing actually will save money.”
Holter also suggested putting something in older, five-gallon toilet tanks to fill some of the water space.
“Anything that can take space in the tank reduces the amount of water in the tank,” Holter said.
Holter also encourages people to stop drafts around doors and windows. A rolled-up towel to block under-door air leakage saves money both winter and summer, he said. So does covering unused windows with plastic.
Jim Bartling, public affairs director for Atmos Energy, offers tips that save both water and gas or electricity. Water flow restrictors or low-flow showerheads save both water and the price of heating it, Bartley said. Likewise, operating washers with full loads saves both water and the cost of running the appliance.
Setting the water heater temperature at 120 degrees can cut the cost of keeping water hot up to 20 percent, Bartling said.
Adjust curtains to let sunshine in during winter or keep it out during the summer, and make sure vents and air returns aren’t blocked, he said.
Changing air filters on heating and cooling systems helps use less energy, Bartling said.
Jana Dawson, director of corporate communications for Westar Energy, said washing laundry in cold water saves about 60 cents per load.
“One that’s surprising to me, and I think people don’t know, is keep light fixtures clean,” Dawson said.
Dust can obstruct as much as 25 percent of light, she said. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs also saves money.
Dawson said when cooking, use a toaster oven instead of a larger oven if possible. Additionally, using a proper size pan on the burner prevents wasting energy, as does avoiding standing with the refrigerator door open.
A favorite tip in her own home is using a programmable thermostat to run the furnace at warmer temperatures when they are home and lower temperatures while they are away or sleeping, Dawson said.