Energy costs are going up. Water bills are going up. Everything is going up. And I'm sorry to say, I doubt it will stop. The best way to beat this? Learn to conserve energy now.
I've started doing basic home energy audits for friends and wanted to share what works best.
Now, most utility companies will do a free home energy audit, but I suggest you follow the three basic steps outlined below, fix the issues you find, and then call the utility company for the audit. This way, they will catch anything you might have missed.
1. Read: Energy Efficient Homes For Dummies (Rik DeGunther) (Est. time: 1.5 hrs)
It will fill you in on the basics, is easy to read, and is very sensible. You'll soon learn the most powerful tool in energy efficiency is plain old common sense.
2. Do: Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit (Est. time: 2 hrs)
Read through the packet before you start and have fun exploring your house.
3. Get: Kill-A-Watt Electricity Meter (Est. time 1 hr.)
This device (only $36) will tell you how much an appliance costs to run a year, and if appliances are using energy when they are "off". It's very valuable for deciding if it's time for a new, more energy efficient appliance or if it's worth plugging appliances in to a power strip (that you can click off when not using).
You might also want to consider buying this item with a few friends, or seeing if you have a tool library in town that has one.
With just a few hours of your time you can reduce your energy costs by about 20%, and improve your energy knowledge by 100%.