As you probably know, utility bills can change month over month and might surprise you once in a while. Though each bill might seem insignificant in regards to your overall budget, it will really start to add up if you don’t keep an eye on it. Luckily, unlike your rent costs or your car loan, you CAN influence your utility bills by making small changes within your home. Here are a few changes you can start making now to reduce your electric, gas, and water bills.
Reduce Heating and Cooling Power Costs
While you shouldn’t sacrifice your comfortability, you might be surprised how adjusting the temperature in your home by just one or two degrees can make an impact on your bills. You can also try using fans in the summer and blankets/space heaters in the winter to avoid high energy costs. Initially, it might seem a little on the warm or cool side, but by the next day or so your body will acclimate to the new set temperature of your home and before you know it, the savings will start piling up on your monthly energy bills!
In addition, never stress your air conditioning or heating if you can help it – that means if you get home from vacation and your home is at a balmy 80 degrees, resist the urge to turn the dial to say, 68 or 69 degrees. Instead, set it to 77 or 78 degrees until the temperature of the home drops to that level, and then lower it again and again. This helps prevent your heating and cooling system from overloading, and it’s a nice little lifehack to cool your home down in increments rather than all at once. You might find that you’re more comfortable at a higher temperature than you realize! When it comes to efficiently cooling your home and saving money, remember: it’s a marathon – not a race!
For the cooler months, here’s a nice little way to help reduce your heating costs: check your seals on your doors and windows! This is especially important if you live in an older home or apartment – newer, modern windows and doors let in a minimal amount of cold during winter, but older homes might have gaps. If you notice a draft or cold air coming through a window from outside, it’s probably time to consider upgrading your windows or adding sealants.
Lower Your Water and Sewage Usage
Reducing your water usage is one of the easiest ways to save money on your monthly energy bills while being environmentally friendly at the same time! Here’s some quick and easy things you can do to accomplish just that:
- Take shorter, colder showers. You might think that nothing beats a long, hot shower after a long day, but wait until you see the savings!
- Wash your clothes in cold water, not hot water. Most – if not all – modern detergents and washing machines wash clothes just as well in cold water compared to hot water! Unless you have some serious bleaching to do, we recommend just setting the dial to “cold” when you do your laundry.
- If any of the faucets in your home are leaky, replace them. This is pretty self-explanatory – leaky faucets are not efficient whatsoever, and they only increase your utility bill at the end of the day.
- Don’t flush your toilet more than you have to. How many times have you blown your nose in the bathroom, tossed the tissue in the toilet, and flushed without even thinking about it? Those flushes start adding up!
Keep Your Lighting and Power Use Low
Adjusting how you use the lights in your home is another great way to save money on your energy bill. Start by turning off the light whenever you leave a room, and only turning on lights that you’re actively using. The more lights that are on at the same time, the more costly electricity you’re using.
Also, consider installing dimmer switches on lights throughout your home. Dimmer switches are inexpensive and give you the option to manually set the lighting level of your lights. This ensures that they can be at the level you want them to be at all times, and when you set them to about 50% of their maximum brightness, that’s when you will start seeing some serious relief in your wallet.
As our appliances get more and more modern and filled with more technology, they actually are becoming way more efficient! Here’s a quick list of what appliances we’re talking about:
– Even showerheads!
Basically, if you’re shopping for an new big-ticket appliance, please do your due diligence and make sure you’re doing what’s right for the environment *and* your wallet by choosing one that is energy-efficient.
Pro-tip: when shopping for new larger appliances, look for the EnergyStar sticker! EnergyStar certification has been around for decades and it’s the easiest way to identify which appliances are efficient and thus great at saving you money every month!
Smart Energy Devices
It’s the 21st century, and with that comes a lot of advancements that were made in the space of home automation and smart energy devices.
Do you want the comfort and convenience of controlling your air conditioning and heater through your smartphone or connected device? Then you want to look at replacing your aging cooling and heating controls with a Nest thermostat or a similar product. This kind of smart thermostat gives you total control of your thermostat even if you’re not home to physically operate it. In addition, it can learn over time how to most efficiently cool and heat your home without you having to do a thing, thereby saving you some serious money!
Have you ever left the house and you’re worried that you may have left the lights or television on? Setting up a smart home system that connects to your lights and appliances may be just the thing you need! There are many products on the market, from smart plugs that connect to any outlet that you can then connect a TV through, to bigger systems for your lights and lamps like the Philips Hue system that you can access all through your smartphone. Even when you’re not at home, it’s as easy as opening up an app on your phone and checking if the lights are on or off, and then literally turning them off with a tap of your finger.
And it gets even better – digital assistants like the ones found in our phones and smart speakers (like Siri and Alexa) can use your voice commands to turn on and off lights and appliances whenever you want. Imagine laying in bed at the end of the day and realizing you left the living room light on. The thought of getting out of bed to turn off the lights seems awful, right? Well, with a quick “Alexa, turn off the living room lights,” the light will be turned off without you ever getting out of bed. How’s that for convenience?
About the Author
Chris Phelan is a copywriter who has taken his own credit score from a 580 to an 850. With a mixture of personal experience and thorough research, Chris can help anyone achieve their financial goals.