Do you dread opening your electric bill in the peak of summer or the gas bill after a super cold month? Your utility costs may consist of a sizable portion of your monthly expenses. And it may seem like there’s not any way to change this.
After all, you have to have your home heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, right? I mean, you could suffer through sweltering heat without air conditioning. Or keep your thermostat unbearably low in winter in order to save money on utilities.
However, suffering through incredibly uncomfortable temperatures isn’t your only option for lowering your utility bills. You do have some options for saving money on utility bills you can live with.
How to Save Money on Utilities
It may seem as if your utility bill amounts are out of your control. However, there are things you can do to lower your monthly utility costs. Read on to discover X ways you can spend less on utilities and see if you can implement these money-saving tips in your home.
1. Adjust Your Thermostat
Lowering your thermostat in the winter or raising it in the summer can result in noticeable money savings. According to energy.gov, the Federal government’s energy information website, you can save serious money by doing so.
“You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.” If your heating and cooling bills run $150 per month on average, that’s a savings of up to $180 per year.
Does changing your normal thermostat setting by 7 to 10 degrees seem like a big leap? Try a gradual journey to that 7 to 10 degree change. Adjust your thermostat a degree or two and allow your body to get used to the change.
Then, when you’re used to that small change, adjust the thermostat down (or up) another degree or two. Simply commit to keeping your home a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter. Help your body adjust to the change by wearing sweatshirts or sweaters in the winter or adding an extra blanket to your bed.
In the summertime, dress cooler and drink lots of cold water. Have the windows open if there’s a breeze.
2. Get a Programmable Thermostat
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, I recommend getting one. I have mine set to the most comfortable temperatures for only during the times I really need it.
When I’m asleep, I have the thermostat programmed to use less heat (or A/C) so I can save money. I generally don’t notice temperature changes when I’m sleeping. I make sure to have the thermostat programmed to resume more comfortable temperatures a bit before I wake up.
Another tip: Don’t pay to heat/cool your home when there’s no one in it!
When you’re not home, set your thermostat to a higher temp (summer) or lower temp (winter). For example, I keep my thermostat at about 66 degrees in the winter (bedrooms upstairs are even cooler) when I’m at work. I’ll have it set to warm up about a half hour before I get home.
In the summer I have the air conditioning set to a higher level than I like when I’m not home. I program the system to start cooling the house down about a half hour before I get home.
If you’re going somewhere for the weekend or on an extended vacation or business trip, you could raise or lower the temperature more significantly. Just be sure you don’t lower it too far during the winter months if you’ll be away long-term. Doing so could result in a risk of frozen/burst pipes.
3. Don’t Waste Heating and Cooling
Sometimes energy waste can be a bit hidden. For instance, is it really hot outside? Avoid running the oven and heating up your home even more. Hot days are a great time to be using the crockpot, toaster oven, or stovetop for meals.
On the flip side, an oven baked meal on a cold winter day can help you warm up the house. Don’t forget about windows. Keep the windows covered to keep that warm sun out in the summer and open the blinds in the winter to let the warm sun in.
Close vents and doors in rooms that aren’t being used to help with wasted heating and cooling costs. Be sure the kids know not to stand in front of an open refrigerator for long periods of time, wondering what to eat.
By keeping an eye out for hidden energy waste, you can save money on your utility bills.
4. Save Money by Conserving Electricity
Little changes such as turning things off when you leave a room can also save money on utilities. And don’t forget to teach your kids to do the same. Many electronics will continue to drain power, even if they are off but still plugged in.
For convenience purposes, you could also use a power strip for devices and turn the entire strip off. Some of the more common ways people waste electricity include:
- leaving lights on after you’re done in a room
- leaving outside lights on during the daytime or at night even when not needed
- Forgetting to unplug devices and appliances when not in use
- Keeping the television on when no one is watching it
- having devices or appliances running when no one is home
By becoming more mindful of electricity usage, you can save money by powering devices down and unplugging items when not in use.
5. Use Less Water to Save Money
Many urban dwellers have to pay for water usage. Here are some tips for saving money on your water bill.
- Try cutting back and being more conscious of your water usage. Remember to turn the water off when brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, and only run the dishwasher when you have a full load of dishes.
- If you have kids, don’t fill up the tub with so much water. When you multiply a full bathtub times multiple kids and multiple times per week-it adds up to a lot of water!
- Consider installing a low flow shower head, as this can cut water usage in the shower by as much as half. A low flow aerator for your other faucets will also reduce water usage.
- Be mindful of water usage when you’re doing dishes. Keep the faucet turned low and don’t use any more water than you need.
- Don’t over-water your lawn. Only water it when necessary to keep it healthy.
By taking many small steps to use less water, you should see a decrease in your home’s water bills.
6. Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Another way to save money on utility bills is to make your home more energy efficient. Although you will likely spend at least some money to make your home more energy efficient, your moves will likely save you money over the long-term. Here are some ways you can make your home more energy efficient.
- Seal up leaks around doors and windows with caulk and weather stripping
- Use the clear plastic wrap that insulates windows and unused patio doors in the wintertime
- Have your energy company do an energy assessment to check insulation levels and look for leaks
- Install LED light bulbs in place of the old-fashioned incandescents
- Consider upgrading your furnace or water heater if they’re energy hogs
While some of these solutions may cost you money up front, they will also likely result in long-term money savings. Talk with the energy specialists at your energy company or local home improvement store for more ideas.
7. Shop Around For Energy
Did you know that many states allow you to choose your energy suppliers? In most cases, you’ll still pay your bill through the same company, but you can shop around for a gas or electric supplier.
With energy choice and deregulation, you choose what company you’d like to supply your energy. If you live in a state that will let you choose your supplier, you might even be overwhelmed by all the choices (my area has 85 choices just for electricity).
Be sure to read all the details of the cost-prices may be variable or fixed, they may require a contract term, and some charge a cancellation fee. You may have options like locking in a fixed rate, a variable plan that takes advantage of the market’s fluctuation, or even a green plan that supplies energy from renewable sources.
Bonus Tip: Use a Budget Billing Program
Do you struggle with utility bills that fluctuate? It can be tough budgeting for high energy bills in the winter or during hot summer months. Check and see if your utility company offers a budget billing program.
A budget billing program will help you be better able to budget your costs from month to month. Varying usage can make budgeting for utilities difficult, especially if you don’t have wiggle room in your budget.
Fox example, my gas bill fluctuates by almost $100 during the course of the year-it might be just $25/30 during the summer and run up to over $125 during the cold winter months. And my electric bill does the opposite, peaking in the summer when I’m running the air conditioning.
If you can get on a budget billing program, your energy company will estimate an average monthly bill by assessing your prior year’s energy usage. If, at the end of the year, you’ve paid more than you should have, you’ll get a refund.
Although it may not save you much money, this type of a program will help ensure you have a fixed energy bill amount each month, making it easier to budget.
Yes, most of us do have to use utilities to some extent. Unless you live totally off the grid, you’re probably paying for electricity, gas and other utilities. However, by using the tips above you can spend less on the utilities you use.
It will likely take some time to implement the suggestions given here. You may have to train yourself – and your family members – to be more mindful regarding energy and water usage.
If you have kids, there may be a trial period in which you’ve got to help your kids remember to use less water or power down devices. However, doing so will have many benefits.
Not only will you save money, you’ll help preserve our earth’s precious resources. That means you’ll be helping everyone over the long term.
How do you work to save money on utility bills? What are your biggest struggles in terms of saving money on utilities? Tell us by leaving a comment in the comments section below.