It said that ‘our home is our castle‘. The four walls we live within are more than just a place for us to come and lay our heads. We spend a significant proportion of our lives in our homes, so it only makes sense to make them feel like ours. Different people do this in different ways, through rebuilding, extending and decorating. But even if your home looks just how you want it to, you could be incurring unnecessary costs from the way you are running your home. No one likes getting hit with an unexpectedly huge gas bill at the end of the month – especially if winter is creeping up on us. It happens more often than you would think, though, often through sheer carelessness. If you feel like you’re paying a lot of money and still not getting enough out of your home, the following tips could help you.

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Water Use

We don’t often stop to think about how much of a luxury running water in the home is. Clean running water at that. Our ancestors would have had to walk potentially miles to get to the nearest fresh water source, and then boil it at home to purify it after. Living in the 21st century, we simply have to turn on the faucet to access fresh, great tasting running water. However, this water doesn’t always come cheap, and if you don’t know how to use it well you may actually be paying an extortionate sum of money for it.

The first way to make sure you’re getting enough out of your water supply is by checking for leaks. Even a tiny leak from your faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day. Larger leaks, such as those coming from pipes or your boiler, can waste hundreds of gallons. Make sure you check your pipes and faucets during fall so that if there are any problems, you can call a plumber as soon as possible to help fix it. Leave it too late and you may be on a long waiting list – winter can bring with it a whole load of issues that affect people’s pipes and water systems. Water companies generally experience a much greater volume of callouts during freezing temperatures. Other ways to save on excess water usage are relatively simple. Turning the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth can save a huge amount of water and money when the time is added up. If you want to go a step further, pre-fill a glass for rinsing. Many of us are also guilty of using our water-related appliances far too often. If you find that you tend to use your washing machine or dishwasher even when either are only half full, you can be severely adding to your monthly bill. Try and only use them when you need to. Dishwashers are more economical than hand-washing your dishes, but only if they are used to full capacity.

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Home Heating

Having the perfect home temperature is vital to feel comfortable and relaxed in your house or apartment. In order to live at ease, humans need to be in an environment which is set at around 30% humidity. Any less than that and our skin would feel dry, as though we had been on an airplane. Any more and we would feel damp and sticky, like on a hot summer’s day. Your home heating and ventilation system can help circulate air in a way that creates the ideal temperature and humidity levels for you. Before installing a ventilator or A/C system, check that your home is free of any poisonous air sources such as asbestos. With your heating system, racking your thermostat up as high as it will go, or having your stove on full blast is what most people do in an effort to stay warm. However, doing either of these things can actually waste you more heat than it’s actually giving you. In the case of wood or pellet stoves, the flow of hot air is extremely concentrated. It only warms up the air directly around the stove, meaning that in a large room you are unlikely to feel the benefit. Heat rises, so the air nearer the floor will pretty much always be cold – hence your feet being icy even when the rest of you isn’t. In order to solve this common issue, consider investing in a stove fan that runs without electricity. The circulating air from the fan will spread the heat more evenly around the room, resulting in a much more pleasant temperature.

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The average American spends $163 per month on their electricity bill. That’s quite a lot of money by anyone’s standard – especially if you have a large family. You’re going to want your finances to go elsewhere, rather than purely on electricity bills. It’s actually surprisingly easy to cut down on your energy bills and therefore start getting the most out of your home. One of the most simple ways to do this is simply by shutting down your electronic devices while you are away. Even if your gadget itself is turned off, you are still using up vital power. Keeping a DVR connected to a power source for a year can cost you around $36, and a digital cable box adds up to around $17. You can make huge savings by unplugging this kind of devices when you are not using them. In fact, doing this with these 11 common household devices can save you over $73 a year. That’s a sum of money you could put towards other more important bills such as winter heating, or towards a fun activity for you and your family. You may also save money and run your home more efficiently by running certain appliances such as your dishwasher at nighttime. It may not be the most practical thing in world, but many energy companies charge more during ‘peak times’. These ‘peak times’ are generally considered to be daytime hours, so see if your electricity company charges more depending on what time you use your appliances.

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