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How Long Islanders can save on their utility bills

Want to keep electricity costs low? PSEG says

Want to keep electricity costs low? PSEG says advanced smart power strips can power down things like a television or computer when they're turned off. Credit: Barry Sloan

While Long Island is one of the most expensive areas of the country to live in, there are some steps that residents can take to help defray some of the costs of the bills they pay every month.

Utility consumption on Long Island can vary over the course of the year – particularly water – and with the area’s cold winters and the potential for heat waves in the summer, there can be an uneven distribution of energy bills over the course of 12 months, according to experts. 

So, what are some hacks that Long Islanders can do to cut down on their utility bills? Newsday contacted energy experts from three local utilities, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy, to get some tips on how to save anywhere from pennies to hundreds of dollars on a monthly bills.

ELECTRICITY

When shopping for lighting and appliances for your home, PSEG LI recommends looking for the Energy Star label, as these devices consume less electricity than standard ones. A Department of Energy spokeswoman says that you can save $75 a year by replacing your five most frequently used light fixtures in your home with Energy Star models.

In addition, a PSEG LI spokeswoman said keeping your freezer and your refrigerator full can actually lower your electric bill, as it takes less energy to cool objects than empty air.

For consumer electronics, PSEG recommends using advanced smart power strips, which power down when things like a television or computer are turned off. It’s also recommended to use surge protectors in case of a storm, to prevent any power surges that could damage appliances.

During the summer months, PSEG says customers tend to use more energy to run air conditioning and pool pumps. To reduce the load on these devices, it’s recommended to keep the air conditioning unit’s outside condenser coils and fins clean, removing grass, leaves and debris that may collect, and make sure shrubs don’t block vents and reduce the unit’s ability to exhaust air.

The DOE says residents can save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling bills by simply dialing back the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours per day. And when you go on vacation, PSEG says to make sure to unplug your television and other electronics so they don’t use power when you’re not there.

And, the simplest tip to help shave your electricity bill? If you’re not using the lights, television or electronics around the house, just turn them off, according to PSEG.

HEAT

One of Long Island’s natural gas suppliers, National Grid, said residents can save $9 per month by washing clothes in cold water and another $7 per month by drying only full loads of laundry instead of partial loads.

Tuning up your natural gas furnace can save you $9 a month, or if you replace your older furnace with one that is 90 percent more efficient, it can equate to $30 off your bill each month. You can also install a programmable thermostat that lowers the settings at night and when no one is around, which can save $15 per month.

Another $13 per month can be saved by using caulk and weather stripping around windows and doors, keeping the warm air from escaping. Insulating walls, ceilings and windows can also save $16 per month, according to National Grid. And, putting in energy-efficient windows, could save Long Islanders $28 per month on their heating bills.

Lowering the water heater setting to 120 degrees can also save save $9 per month.

WATER

Moses Thompson, New York American Water’s vice president of operations, said water consumption on Long Island is overall higher in May through September due to demand, meaning a lot of the tips to save money are geared toward the warmer months.

Thompson points out that Long Island gets all its drinking water from a sole-source aquifier, meaning that it is important to conserve whenever possible. As a result, he said there’s no need to water the lawn every day, and in Nassau County, there are restrictions on when residents and businesses can do so. In addition, Thompson also said that lawns that aren’t watered as much grow deeper, stronger roots, making them more tolerant when drier conditions occur.

He also recommends checking any faucets or toilets for leaks, as a leaky toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water each month and drive up a water bill significantly.

A National Grid spokesman said that putting in a low-flow shower head could save up to $246 per year and 8,212 gallons of water. Meanwhile, turning off the water while shaving or brushing teeth can help as well, Thompson said.

He also said you should only run dishwashers and washing machines when they are full, and scrape plates before rinsing them.

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