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How College Students Can Save Money on Electricity Bills

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One of the most surprising expenses that young people face when first living on their own is the cost of utilities. Without any planning or forethought, students can wind up paying hundreds extra in power, phone, water, Internet, and cable bills. Thankfully, tips and techniques exist to help mitigate the costs of these utilities to make living on your own much less expensive. While this article concentrates students across Texas, most of the information is useful no matter where you live.

Energy Efficiency

One way to save money is to make finding an energy efficient home a priority. When shopping for a place to live look for newer apartments or houses. They are more likely to have been built to be more energy efficient than older buildings.

Don't be afraid to ask what sort of appliances are in furnished homes. Look for Energy Star products, because they've been tested and rated for efficiency. A well-insulated, energy-efficient apartment combined with a little energy conservation can allow you to live for cheap - especially with the Texas heat.

Conservation Tips

Regardless of how energy efficient your appliances may be, it's still cheaper to not use them all the time. Air-drying dishes and clothes is a great way to reduce an electric bill. If you use a dryer, make certain that the lint filter stays clean to reduce the power needed to dry clothes and use a moisture sensor if the machine has one.

Also take advantage of the cool down cycle to use residual heat to finish drying clothes. Washing and drying only full loads makes the machines more cost effective. Another way for students to save money is to make their next computer upgrade an energy-efficient laptop rather than a desktop model.

Unplug as many electronics as possible when they aren't in use. A convenient method to do this is to invest in power strips. Simply turning the power strip off prevents TVs, DVRs, or other household devices from drawing power when not in use. The savings is considerable and every bit helps when you are just starting out.

Heating and Cooling

Texas has scorching summers across the state, and some people even experience freezing winters. It's important that students across the Lone Star State learn how to get the most for their money with heating and cooling bills.

It goes without saying that using fans can help with hot weather, but ceiling fans allow residents to raise their thermostat by four degrees without noticing a loss of cooling effect. In the winter, ceiling fans can be used to circulate warmer air downward to allow more efficient use of the heating. Insulating hot water heater pipes can also save Houston and Dallas students considerably on their monthly energy bills.

Likewise, make sure heating ducts are insulated. Up to 60% percent of the heating or cooling effects of a home's heating and air conditioning system can be lost to conduction. Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed.

If the living space uses radiators, placing a heat resistant reflective barrier between the radiator and the wall can greatly increase heating efficiency. These are relatively simple steps that can help students live for cheap in Houston, Dallas or virtually anywhere.

Windows

With a relatively small investment, you can make your living space more energy-efficient. By applying sun control film to south-facing windows, a tremendous amount of radiant heat is blocked during the summer. White blinds or curtains also act to keep out radiant heat and lower its impact on the home's internal temperature. If necessary, clear plastic can be installed over drafty windows in the winter to save as much as 10% on energy bills. In cold weather, closing curtains and shades at night conserves heat.

Bright Ideas

  1. Using the proper lighting can help students save significantly on their monthly bills. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs will reduce your energy usage and replacement costs.
  2. During winter, leave south-facing curtains open to illuminate rooms and provides a measure of natural heating as well.
  3. Turning off lights when no one is in a room is a time honored method of cutting costs.
  4. Apply light colored paints on walls to maximize the effect of lighting.

Water

Nothing is taken for granted quite like water. That is until the end of the month when the bill comes. Try these tips to lower your usage.

  1. Taking short showers instead of baths to avoid draining the tank of your water is a fairly straightforward method to save on both water and electricity.
  2. Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Notice and repair leaky faucets. They may seem innocuous, but an amazing amount of water can be lost through what you think is a "simple" leak.
  4. Install an aerating, low flow shower head to lower your water consumption.

Compare Providers

If you're trying to live cheaply in Houston or Dallas, take advantage of the competition between retail electric providers to find the least expensive company. This is a quick, easy process that can save money year-round. There are a number of sites that allow fast comparisons between regional providers. A few minutes on the Internet used to compare Texas electricity rates can save students literally hundreds of dollars.

General Utilities

When looking for phone, Internet, and cable services, don't be afraid to shop around. Most companies offer all three services as part of bundled packages. This saves money, but go the extra mile and ask the representative what promotions are being offered or if there is any way to drop the cost some.

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