9 Bad Habits That Increase Your Utility Bills

August 9, 2021

We all have them: those seemingly insignificant daily habits that waste a little water here, a little energy there. What most people don’t realize is that each of those small “bad habits” add up to a lot of water and energy waste over time.

Are you ready to shrink your utility bills? The best place to start is by avoiding the following behaviors.

1. Closing air vents

Whether you’re trying to get more comfortable or redirect air to another area in your home, this one is a big no-no! By closing air vents, you’re preventing your HVAC system from sending out the same amount of air that it’s taking in. This leads to a buildup of air pressure in your air ducts (which can create air leaks) and a lack of system efficiency. The result: higher energy bills.

2. Ignoring “small” leaks

A dripping faucet or showerhead might not seem like a big problem. After all, it’s not flooding your entire house. But consider these leak facts from the EPA:

  • A showerhead dripping 10 times per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year.
  • 1 leaky faucet dripping at a rate of 1 drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons in a year.

Those drips add up to a lot of water waste over time, so it pays to get them repaired!

3. Leaving the same air filter in too long

Your air filter has the vital task of keeping dust and other particles out of your HVAC system’s components. However, when you leave the same air filter in too long, it becomes so clogged with dust, dander, and hair that it blocks airflow into your HVAC system. Without adequate airflow, your system will need to work harder and use more energy to perform. The system might even fail entirely.

4. Turning on the shower and walking away

If your shower takes a minute to heat up, you might be tempted to take care of some other tasks around the house while you wait. Invariably, the shower will be ready before you’re back, and you’ll have wasted both water and energy (used to heat the water). Instead, while waiting for the water to get hot, collect the cold water in a “shower bucket” to use later for house cleaning and watering plants.

5. Leaving windows uncovered

Granted, there’s no reason to keep your windows covered at all times. However, there are strategic times throughout the day and year when you should make use of energy-efficient window treatments:

  • Close the curtains or blinds of any windows that get afternoon sun during summer to help out your AC and lower your cooling costs.
  • Close your curtains or blinds at night during winter to help your home retain heat.

6. Forgetting to use fans

Fans are an extremely low-cost way for you to feel more comfortable. During summer, make use of floor, table, and ceiling fans to feel up to 10 degrees cooler. That way you won’t have to run your AC as often. If you own ceiling fans, you can also use them to help circulate warm air in occupied rooms during cold weather—just make sure that they’re rotating clockwise slowly.

7. Running heat-generating appliances during the hottest hours of the day during summer

Appliances like your dishwasher, clothes washing machine, and dryer release both heat and moisture into your home’s air, giving your air conditioner extra work to do. On hot days, try to use these appliances either early in the morning or later in the evening. You can also use your dishwasher and washing machine’s no-heat settings to increase your energy savings.

8. Skipping heating and cooling maintenance

According to the Department of Energy, neglecting HVAC system maintenance will have two negative effects:

  • The equipment’s performance will decrease
  • The equipment’s energy use will steadily increase

If you’ve noticed that your heating and cooling costs have been increasing year over year, and you can’t remember the last time your HVAC system had a professional tune-up, the equipment is most likely overdue for maintenance.

9. Hand washing dishes when a dishwasher is available

Using your dishwasher isn’t only convenient—it can also help you save water compared to hand washing dishes. Based on the Department of Energy’s standards, a dishwasher can use no more than 5 gallons of water per cycle. ENERGY STAR rated models only use 3.5 gallons or less. To wash dishes by hand, most people require 9 to 27 gallons. To top it off, using your dishwasher is much more hygienic than hand washing and drying.

Winters Home Services is dedicated to bringing top-quality plumbing and HVAC services to customers in Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding areas. Need help with your home? Call us at 617-221-5899 today!