Whether you own or rent, there are a few things you can do to save money on your bills. These simple things should be on a must-do home-improvement list to help you and, in many cases, the environment:
• If you ignore a leaky faucet, you're wasting a ton of water. Just one drip per second will waste about 2,000 gallons of water per year. If you've got more than one leaky pipe, that's costly. Certainly, people who have poor insulation in and around their pipes have to let their faucets drip in super-cold weather to avoid frozen pipes. But if you can, install insulation. It's cheap and easy to do in areas where you can see the pipes. There's a newer apartment complex on South Temple, and during cold weather, it sports a sign telling tenants something like "Freeze tonight, drip your pipes!" That's a great example of poor construction.
• By now, you should only be using LED light bulbs. Yeah, they are expensive, but they can save you massive amounts of money. Regular light bulbs can cost $200 in electricity during their short life span, whereas an LED bulb will cost more like $30 until it burns out. In 2010, the U.S. government helped Payson, Springville and Eagle Mountain swap out old street lamps with LED fixtures that were 50 percent more efficient than the old sodium vapor bulbs. Now it's almost impossible to find any remnant of inefficient public lighting on the streets in cities along the Wasatch Front.
• Although we're in the midst of a terrific water year for the state, try not to overwater your lawns and gardens this summer. Check plumbing, faucets and sprinklers for leaks. It's amazing how much water is wasted in Utah, and even more amazing how many broken water lines aren't reported. There's a sprinkler system on 400 West just north of Pierpont Avenue that creates a bog every summer along the sidewalk and has been leaking and pooling for years without attention. I know, because I've reported it many times without any end to the waste.
• Air filters for your furnace are cheap. Change them every three months. If you don't, your power bill will go up because the dirtier the filter gets, the harder the furnace works. Make sure you buy the right size, too. The same goes for your swamp cooler pads—get the right size to avoid wasting water. And while you're checking out your heating and air systems, invest in a modern thermostat. Get one you can control from your phone so you can lower or raise the temperature while you're gone. We just put one in and are saving ourselves the forehead slap when we forget to adjust the inside temp—plus some cash in our heating bill. They start at $150 for a simple Wi-Fi system and are super easy to install.