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Family Money

Ways to Save on Energy Bills

money houseWhen we moved to Fredericksburg, we bought what we thought was just going to be our starter home; a little fixer upper that we’d sell when we had kids. Well 13 years and two kids later, we’ve made our starter house our home.

Over the years, we’ve realized that our 1,200-square-foot house is not only enough space for our family of four, but is also very energy-efficient. We use every square foot of our single story living space and don’t miss having stairs, a basement or a garage. Our energy bill is manageable because we only need one heat pump that heats and cools the entire place.

Don’t read me wrong, we’ve had to put in a lot of sweat equity in to make our house work for us. While fixing up our home, we’ve had to replace or install certain things to make our house more energy efficient. One of the first things we did was install a programmable thermostat and checked that the attic was well insulated.

During our first year in the house, we gutted our kitchen to gain storage and more effective cooking space and remodeled our main bathroom where our laundry closet is located. We replaced the washer and dryer and the dishwasher with appliances with EnergyStar ratings. Funny story: the main bathroom remodel all started because of a leaky faucet. I felt the old toilet looked out of place with the newly updated brushed nickel faucets. Now all of our toilets, showerheads and faucet heads have low-flow fixtures that have shown significant cost savings on our water bill.

A few years back, we replaced our single-pane wood windows with new energy-efficient double pane, Low-E glass windows. We sure don't miss having to use shrink-wrap to keep the cold air out in the winter and the air-conditioned air in during the summer. We also noticed a considerable draft and water leakage coming in from our back patio door, so we replaced that too.

Some tips I follow for daily cost savings:
• Wash clothes in cold water.
• Pack the dishwasher and turn off the “heat dry” feature.
• Looking for even more cost savings, we make our own laundry detergent for less than $20 for 1,800 loads in a top-loading machine.
• Shut the water off while brushing teeth or shaving.
• Place a bucket in the shower while the hot water comes in to collect wasted cold water that is then used to water plants.
• We’ve also determined that LED bulbs are best for teaching our children to shut off lights compared to incandescent, compact florescent or halogen bulbs. Choose the best bulbs to use in your lamps depending on your usage.

At the end of the day, I am able to provide my family a warm, cozy home that is environmentally friendly. Being good stewards to the earth is a legacy that we can pass on to our children.

Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons financial responsibility with the less is more mindset.

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