DIY Projects to Save on Utilities
They can be the bane of your existence, but that doesn’t make them any less necessary. We all have little projects around the house that we must do — unless we want to pay someone else to do them. Considering the cost of hiring a plumber, and electrician, a carpenter, and other specialists, we know we’re better off doing them ourselves.
Would it help if you could use these projects to help reduce your power consumption?
Everything we consume has a price. Electricity comes to mind first, but there’s also gas or oil for heating, and even a charge for water. I remember an old Mr. Wizard episode (remember Mr. Wizard?) where he revealed that a drippy faucet can leak over 100 gallons of water per year. That’s going to cost you money, so it might be time to jump on some of those projects you’ve put on the back burner.
Just what projects can you perform to save some money? Here are five DIY projects to save on utilities, like electricity, gas and water.
Here’s something you can do once a month, and it will take you less than a half hour. Along the way you can save plenty of money, as the Mr. Wizard story above demonstrates.
Armed with a monkey wrench and a smaller adjustable wrench, go around to all the sinks and tubs in your house. With the monkey wrench you can make sure the pipes underneath are taut, so that they won’t come loose and cause leaks. Then make sure that all the fixtures up top are tight and sealed.
It’s such a small task, but it can keep your water bill from spilling out of control.
Venetian blinds might not be the most pleasant things to look at. My wife fought me tooth and nail on this, because she wanted to see elaborate drapes. Unfortunately, drapes do not keep the heat out in the summer months. I got her to agree to an experiment, whereby we compared our electricity bills in a summer month before the blinds and then after. We now have them hanging.
Of course, they are an eyesore. The solution? Buy blinds with removable brackets. That way you can remove the entire unit as the weather cools. My wife absolutely loves when summer turns into autumn, because it means the venetian blinds come down and her fancy drapes go up. It’s a nice little compromise that saves us some cash in the summer months.
Tankless water heater
Here’s a universal reality for homeowners: your water tank is going to break at the worst possible time. When we first bought our house we heard war stories from friends and family about how their water heaters went right after they made some big purchase. One of them even had it break when they were at the hospital delivering their first child! We wanted to get out in front of that one.
At my insistence, we have gas running through our house (and let me tell you how much better it is cooking on a gas stove). After doing some research, we decided to nip this issue in the bud by purchasing a tankless gas water heater. As you can see, they’re quite expensive. But we’d have to buy a new water heater eventually anyway. Might as well do it on our terms.
Why tankless? Because it saves money. Tankless water heaters consume less energy, since they don’t need to keep a huge tub of water hot at all times. Immediately after installing it we saw our gas bill drop. Well how about that. The difference in our gas bill will pay off the tank itself soon enough. From there it’s all gravy.
Change and clean filters
Don’t like to deal with dust and dirt? Then you’re going to hate this one. If you haven’t replaced your air filters — particularly in your furnace and air conditioning units — then they are working extra hard. And what do they do when they work extra hard? They consume more power. And that means a bigger bill for you. Why not perform this simple maintenance?
Once a month, grab your vacuum, pull off the hose attachment, and take out your air filters. Run the vacuum through them, sucking up all the dust you can possibly get to. If they were dirty enough you’ll notice the difference almost immediately (at least from the AC). Then, when the seasons turn, replace that filter with a new one. You’ll pay for the filters with the difference in your electricity bill.
Seal up cracks
In the summer those venetian blinds help keep the heat out, so our AC doesn’t have to work as hard. But winter brings a different story. We actually love the light getting it, because it helps heat the house. Yet cracks in doors and windows let the cold air seep in. You’ll want to plug those up so that you’re not riding up your heating bill.
What you’ll want is a draft stopper. It’s a typically cheap item that, again, you’ll pay for with the differences in your bill. Once installed, the draft stopper will keep the cold air outside, meaning you won’t be, as my mother said, heating the whole neighborhood. They even come in handy during the summer, since you can keep the hot air from making your AC work too hard.
We might dread home improvement projects, but many of them come with benefits we can see. By taking care of items like this, we can reduce our electricity and gas bills. That’s nice for our wallets, of course, but it’s also nice for the environment. The less power we consume, the better.