One of the hard lessons I learned as an adult (apart from the “money doesn’t grow on trees” mantra) is that paying the utility bills can eat up a huge chunk of your budget after paying your rent/mortgage.

Once you move out of your parent’s nest, you start to notice the small guilty pleasures you once enjoyed no longer seem so “small.” Suddenly you’re no longer singing your heart out in the shower for good 40 minutes or putting on a sweater because you are chilly instead of turning down the AC or keeping the nightstand lamp on the entire night. That “small” stuff has become hugely expensive when you’re paying the bill, right?

Let’s speak about the heating/cooling costs – the biggest budget drain for a lot of us.

How To Reduce The Cooling Costs

According to Mr. Electricity, air conditioning eats up more electricity than any other device – 16 percent of total electricity used, to be precise. During warmer seasons and/or in warmer climates, AC can make up 60-70 percent of your electric bill.

And now, onto the tips:

Rearrange Your Furniture

Furniture can act as a massive obstruction to air conditioning vents. Do you really need to cool down the back of your sofa?

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If moving the furniture isn’t quite an option, there are small plastic pieces you can buy for vents to help to force the air in the right direction.

Consider Using a Bed Fan

It’s nearly impossible to sleep when you feel just too hot (at least in my case). However, I don’t like sleeping under an AC vent, as it often results in nasty colds and high electricity bills.

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The best middle-of-the-road option I’ve found is getting a bed fan (some of the cool new models even run with a remote Wi-Fi control). You can place it to send the cool breeze under your sheets to keep you comfy and refrain from paying for cooling down the entire room/house.

A Window or a Portable Unit Is Another Good Option

Why should you cool your entire house if you just need to feel good at your work desk? Window and portable units usually consume 50 percent less energy to cool off the same area when compared to the central air units.

Always Use The AC Timer or Thermostat

It’s worth setting up the timer or thermostat to turn off by the time you are ready to leave the house, and keep it off until you return. Despite popular belief, leaving the AC unit off instead of keeping it running the whole day results in less energy consumed.

Kelsey Poe from CMP Corporation says that leaving an AC unit running the whole day is also more damaging to the entire system and eats up several years of the unit’s lifespan. Additionally, you should clean or replace the AC filters each month, as dirty filters make the appliance work harder and, of course, consume more energy.

Don’t Forget About Condenser Maintenance

Condensers placed in the shade use up to 10 percent less energy than those placed in direct sunlight. Also, remove any obstacles from around the condenser, such as tall grass or other plants.

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Condensers also require regular cleaning (at least once every few months). It’s okay to wash the fin coils outside with water, but it’s better not to get inside without a technician.

Heating Costs

Winter is coming, at least to some of the less lucky ones, and that means you’ll be struggling with keeping your home warm enough. Although they say sleeping in +63 F is quite beneficial for your health, I prefer to keep my home warmer than that even at night. However, that often comes with extra dollars on the bill. Here are some tips for reducing these costs.

Check Your Weatherstripping

Old, worn weatherstripping around windows and doors create drafts and let cold air in. In fact, 7 to 12 percent of a home’s heat loss occurs around doors and windows. So check those out regularly and consider additional insulation if needed.

Minimize The Usage of Vent Fans During The Cold Season

You probably have a vent in your kitchen and another one in your bathroom to get rid of the moist air. Try not to use them as much during winter, as those fans will ventilate the air out of the room to other areas of the house and outdoors, resulting in heat loss.

Use The Oven More

Your oven will keep your kitchen and your dining room warmer when it’s on. And winter is the time to embrace the hearty dishes after all, right?

Let the Sun In

Another simple tip – instead of adding two more degrees to the heater, open up the curtains and blinds and let the sun inside. It will warm up the room a bit for free. When it’s not sunny at all, close the curtains, as they also serve as additional insulation.

Blanket Cover Your Hot Water Heater

While modern hot water heaters are usually well insulated, the older specimens are terrible heat wasters. Therefore, consider getting an insulation blanket to keep the heat inside and ensure having hot water at all times.

Keep The Heating Registers Clear of Obstacles

Same logic as with the AC unit – do you want to heat the bottom of your chair or the entire room? Move the furniture a bit to make sure those registers are not obstructed and are able to dispense as much warm air as possible.

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