Utilities aren’t usually a monthly expense you can avoid, but there are things you can do to reduce your costs. By making minor adjustments to your habits, adding insulation, and switching to energy-efficient options, you’ll see a noticeable drop in your bills.
No one likes to spend a lot of money on utilities. So, if you’re wondering precisely what steps you should take to cut your costs, you’re in the right place. Below are details about the three main ways to save hundreds of dollars a year.
Change Your Habits at Home
Your HVAC system is responsible for the largest portion of your electric and gas bills. Around 29% comes from heating your home and another 13% is from running your air conditioner. Using the programmable or smart thermostat features will help in several ways.
Instead of leaving the temperature the same throughout the day and night, program it to go down at night during the cooler months. For example, in the spring and summer, program the temperature to increase by a few degrees at night and use ceiling fans to keep cool.
You can also program the temperature to go up or down while you’re away from home. This way, you won’t be spending money to heat or cool the house when no one is there.
In the colder seasons, set the temperature at 68 when you’re at home and between 60 and 65 at night or while you’re away. For the spring and summer, keep the temperature between 76 and 78 while you’re home and program it to go up to 80 while you’re out or asleep.
Use Your Dishwasher
When you wash your dishes by hand, you use an average of two gallons of water per minute. But by loading your dishwasher up, you’ll only use between two and eight gallons each time. Running your dishwasher at night may also save you additional electricity.
Some utility companies will charge you less for the electricity you use during non-peak versus peak hours. By loading your dishwasher after each meal and waiting until the evening it’s complete, you’ll potentially reduce both your water and electric bill. Also, use the air-dry option.
Put Lights and Electronics on a Timer
Falling asleep while watching TV happens, especially if you’ve had a long week and haven’t been getting enough ZZZs. So, here is what you do with that device and others around the house:
- With smart TVs, you can change the settings, so they automatically turn off after so many minutes of inactivity.
- You can also connect your electronics to smart surge protectors and plugs, which are programmed to turn off during certain hours.
- The same can be done with your lightbulbs. Smart lightbulbs are easy to program since they don’t require additional hardware. If you don’t have smart bulbs yet, invest in some timers and program them according to when you’re home and need to use them.
Add Insulation and Weather Stripping
If you have older windows in your home or apartment, air could be escaping through gaps and areas that need re-caulked. Check your windows to see if you feel air coming in and inspect the existing caulk and weather stripping.
Should the caulk look worn, make plans to replace it or hire a vendor to replace it for you. Also, plan on adding weather stripping to your windows and doors. You can pick this up at a local hardware store. In addition, some utility companies offer a few weather stripping supplies for free.
Another option is to add window insulation. This insulation is plastic and clear, so you can still see out. It goes on within a few minutes with a hairdryer or an alternative dry heat source.
Homeowners should also look at the insulation in their attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
Consider hiring a contractor to add or update your insulation. A vendor can fill gaps the builder may have missed and install new insulation that meets new energy-efficiency standards.
For older hot water heaters, add an insulating blanket and turn the temperature down to 120 degrees. Most homes don’t need to keep it higher than that, but some default settings have it as high as 140 degrees.
Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances
Upgrade to Energy Star or high-efficiency models when you’re ready to get new kitchen appliances or an HVAC system. Energy Star and high-efficiency models use less electricity, gas, and water. You may also be eligible for significant rebates to help offset the initial upgrade costs.
For instance, some gas companies offer rebates in the hundreds of dollars for high-efficiency furnaces. Likewise, electric companies can provide rebates in the thousands of dollars for high-efficiency air conditioners. Tax and government incentives may also be available.
Utilizing these saving methods will help keep your wallet and bank account healthy long-term.
Image by Fevziie via Shutterstock.com.