Last night’s Financial program here at the Library focused on saving money on your utility bills. We had guest speakers from the City of Topeka Water Division, Westar Energy, and Kansas Gas Service. All in attendance were treated to a great presentation on practical ways to save on utility bills. Here are some highlights of the program, and some points of contact where you can obtain great tips to start saving energy and money:
First we heard from the Water Division of the Topeka Department of Public Works. One of the main points of this presentation was that all meters are read electronically every month, so any water usage reflected on your bill is water that actually ran through your meter. In other words, a high water bill = high water usage. If your water usage seems high, you need to moniter your water use and see if you are actually using more than you realized. But, the number one culprit of high water bills is unintended water use. And the number one cause of unintended water use is a leaky toilet. A toilet that is continuously running can leak over 86,000 gallons per month and cost you $284!!! Check your flapper valves and other parts in the tank to make sure that everything is watertight. Remember, the least used toilet – in a basement or unused part of the house – is usually the one that goes undetected and can end up costing you. Also repair any leaky faucets or automatic sprinkler systems that might have leaks.
To review your city utility bill, you can go to www.topeka.org For ways to reduce unintended water use, try these sources:
Next we heard from Westar Energy. The focus was on energy efficiency and savings. Almost 50% of home energy consumption comes from heating and cooling systems, so it’s a good idea to weather strip all doors and windows to reduce air leaks. Other places that can be sealed include attics, recessed lighting, gaps around plumbing and electrical outlets, vents and fireplaces. Also, routine maintenance and filter replacement on your air conditioner and furnace can prolong product life and reduce operating costs.
There are probably appliances and electronic devices in your home that are “phantom” users of energy. Did you know that leaving a plasma flat-screen TV on for one hour eats as much electricity as opening your refrigerator door 30 time a day? Turn off televisions, fans, computers, lights, when not in use. Also, those squiggly CFL light bulbs really do cut down on energy usage and costs. Technology has improved their effectiveness, and you can now find them in designer lighting and floodlights also.
For tips and tools on energy efficiency, visit www.WestarEnergy.com Click on the home energy calculator and you enter the “Home Energy Suite.” Their Home Energy Calculator will provide you with estimated energy savings under various scenarios, such as upgrading your heating or cooling systems or adding insulation to your home.
Kansas Gas Service also had some great information on how to keep your natural gas bills lower this winter. Because natural gas is a commodity, it is not always predictable what the price will be, as prices are driven not only by supply and demand, but also by market speculators. Nevertheless, gas prices are expected to be higher this winter. Following are some energy-saving tips:
- Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
- Set water heater at 120 degrees
- Clean or replace filters frequently
- Set thermostat at 65 degrees in winter, 58 degrees when on vacation
- Insulate behind outlets and switch plates
- Use a humidifier to feel warmer in moist air
For more tips from Kansas Gas Service, visit www.kgas.com You can tour their Virtual Energy House to find out how to maximize energy efficiency in any part of your home. Also, if you or anyone you know anticipates needing help paying a gas bill this winter, visit www.kansasgasservice.com to learn about the Cold Weather Rule’s special payment plan.
Thank you to all the presenters at our program for providing our community with this much needed and useful information.
Our next Financial program is “Have a Debt-Free Holiday,” here at the Library on November 5th. Hope to see you there.
The Financial partner organizations are the Community Resources Council, Housing and Credit Council Inc., Westar Energy, CoreFirst Bank & Trust, City of Topeka Weed & Seed, Kansas Gas Service, , Topeka Landlord Association, the Topeka Capital Journal, and of course, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.