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Winter electric bill can be a great motivator to make changes

Often I make changes that are good for the environment just because I know I am making a positive difference in the world. However, I recently made a positive environmental change for a different reason.

After I received my latest electric bill, I knew I had to do something. Normally, my electric bill isn’t too high, but with all of the cold weather we have been having lately and with the chance of more on the way, I decided I needed to make some changes — not only for the environment, but also for my wallet.

So here are some things I’m going to try and do to lessen my energy bill. These are things you can try, too. Together, we can save ourselves some money and shrink out carbon footprints.

Do a nightly check of items that use electricity. This is actually something you can do all year long. You can just take a quick walk through your house and make sure everything is turned off. Items like fans, TVs and lamps may not seem like a big deal to leave on, but they are using energy all night long if they aren’t turned off. So now every night, I’m walking all around my house looking for things to turn off and unplug.

According to a calculator found on the Inter-County Energy Cooperative website (bit.ly/UsageCalc), if you leave one LED TV smaller than 50 inches on all night (8 hours) every night, that would cost you about $49 a year. It seems like such a little thing to turn appliances off when you aren’t using them, but it can add up quick.

It’s important to remember that lots of appliances and devices are pulling power even when they are not being used. If you see a clock on your coffee pot, it’s using power. If you see a small light on your gaming console, it’s using power. It’s best to just unplug these items, when they are not in use.

Turn down the thermostat in your home. You don’t have to turn your thermostat way down to start seeing a difference in your bill. Turning your thermostat down by one degree will save you about 2 percent on your energy bill. Dropping your temperature by even just a few degrees can make a huge difference.

As soon as I got my bill, I dropped my thermostat by three degrees.

To increase comfort while keeping your house a little cooler, I recommend wearing sweatshirts, keeping blankets readily available, and even using heated blankets. I know heated blankets use energy, but they are only heating one specific area, making them very energy efficient.

If you have a king-size heated blanket and use it all winter, you will only be paying about $10 for it on your energy bill. Heated blankets come in different colors and materials and are really warm and cozy. I have one that I had stopped using, but now that my house is a bit colder, I’ll be pulling it out again.

Check the caulk around your windows and doors. Having good caulking ensures you aren’t letting cold air in your house through small cracks. You should also check the weatherstripping on your doors to make sure heat can’t get out there.

These are super simple fixes that can save you up to $19 a year. Now that I know this, I’ve noticed some areas that need new weatherstripping in my house.

By going to the Inter-County usage calculator I mentioned above, you can get to the TV energy calculator, as well as billing insights and ideas for reducing your energy. The billing insights will have you put in information about your house and give you ideas for how to make your home more energy efficient. And it will show how much money you can save by doing these things. It’s really a great tool to have.

If you have other tips for reducing your energy bill I’d love to hear about it. You can email me at amandawheelerphoto@live.com.

Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week

Echidnas live in Australia and New Guinea and have electroreceptors in their noses that allow them to sense electrical impulses given off by their prey.