Fall Is Here: These Expert Tips Will Help You Keep Your Energy Costs Down

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Fall is here.

It’s time to embrace sweaters, knee-high boots and pumpkin spice treats.

October is National Energy Action Month, so it’s a good time to consider how you can conserve energy at home and save on your utility bills as the weather gets cooler and you crank up the heat in your home.

Chris Granger, president of Sears Home Services, shares the following tips on how you can do just that.

Make Sure Your HVAC System Is Running Efficiently

As you switch your heating, ventilation and air conditioning — or HVAC — system from cold to hot, it’s a good time to change the system’s air filters.

Granger said Sears Home Services recommends people change their air filters every three months at minimum. During heavy-use periods, air filters should be cleaned monthly if they are dirty, he said.

“Air filters on a furnace clog easily, which causes the blower to work harder than it should and to use more energy,” Granger said. “By regularly changing your air filters, you’re helping reduce the amount of energy your HVAC needs to work properly.”

You can find air filters at home improvement stores, in home improvement sections of department stores or online.

Keep the Cool Air Out

A man applies weather stripping to a window to save energy.

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It’s great if your HVAC system is in top working order, but if cold air is sneaking into your home, your system will need to work harder to keep things warm and toasty. That could show up on your power bill in a costly way.

“Your home’s exterior plays a big role in helping you stay warm indoors during the colder months, so you can feel more comfortable and save energy and money on your utility bills,” Granger said.

Making sure your roof is insulated is the most cost-effective way to save energy, he said.

“It helps reduce heat transfer from outside air to inside your house,” Granger said. “You may also want to consider adding a radiant barrier to the underside of the roof deck (between it and the insulation) to further reduce heat transfer.”

If you’re replacing siding on your home, be sure to ask how much insulation the siding has, he recommends.

When it comes to exterior doors, Granger said to make sure they close properly with a good seal and that there’s weather stripping on all the areas around the frame. Windows should also close and seal correctly, he said.

If you rent, you can always ask your landlord or property management company about energy-saving measures they could put in place if they haven’t done so already.

Appliance Maintenance Can Save on Energy Use, Too

It’s not always the most obvious things that can impact your energy consumption.

Other actions, like regular maintenance to your household appliances, can also help you save.

You may know about cleaning your dryer’s lint trap after each use, but when’s the last time you cleaned your refrigerator’s condenser coils?

“Condenser coils help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the compressor,” Granger said. “Dirty coils result in the refrigerator having to work harder to cool, often resulting in expensive cooling system repairs.”

He said you should clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils at least twice a year using a vacuum and a coil brush.

“If you have an older fridge, the coils might be painted black and mounted on the back,” he said. “Newer refrigerators often have the condenser coils on the bottom.”

Granger shared additional tips on maintaining common household appliances:

  • Dryers: In addition to cleaning the lint trap after each use, you’ll want to use a lint brush and vacuum periodically to remove any lint the screen didn’t catch. You should wash your lint screen about every six months to remove any build-up. You should also clean out your dryer vent pipe once every six months.
  • Refrigerators: In addition to cleaning your condenser coils, you should make sure the seal on your fridge door is tight. Also, storing leftovers in airtight containers helps prevent moisture from escaping into the air and making the compressor work harder.
  • Oven: Avoid using foil in the oven because it stops airflow and decreases the efficiency of your oven.

For more information and tips, take a look at Sears Home Service’s helpful infographic that shows which appliances use the most energy.

Although improving your energy consumption may not make drastic changes to your energy bill immediately, saving a little here and there will eventually add up.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.