The price of utilities seems to be on the constant rise. This can pose a serious problem for some of the poorest families in America. Fortunately, saving money on utilities isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are several practical steps you can take to potentially save hundreds of dollars every single year.
1. Perform an Energy Audit of Your Home
An energy audit is a simple inspection of your home to make sure that you’re not losing energy whenever you switch your central heating system on. For example, you may want to look at the gaps between the floor and the door. Another major loss of energy involves windows that don’t close properly.
These gaps often aren’t noticeable when it comes to comfort, but they force your heating systems to work overtime to keep the room at the right temperature. Purchasing some caulk and basic weatherproofing material can plug these gaps and ensure that you’re not wasting money.
You can get the products you need at most hardware stores or on Amazon. You can perform these checks yourself using the countless guides online, but some energy providers offer audits as a free service.
2. Install Energy Efficient Appliances in Your Home
Older appliances are inefficient and they’re no longer performing at their best. You may think you’re saving money by persisting, but you’re actually losing money. When you buy energy efficient products, you’re spending more for less. Energy efficient appliances are modern and are designed to help reduce the amount of money you’re spending.
It’s relatively easy to find out how energy efficient your appliances are. The original documentation will tell you how energy efficient they are using a simple number or coding system.
Keep in mind that older appliances will no longer be performing at 100%. Take that into account when deciding whether your appliances are worth replacing.
Some states offer tax rebates when you upgrade, so it’s worth looking up the official website of your state to find out more about this.
3. Use Existing Light to Save Power
An easy way to make sure that you don’t spend any more than you must is to use the natural light. Don’t switch on the lights until darkness falls, and be sure to open the curtains and use the light you have.
If you do have to switch on the lights, make sure you only switch them on in the rooms that you’re in. There’s no reason to have the lights on in a room you aren’t in it yourself.
4. Switch Things Off Correctly Every Evening
The easy option is to press the button on your TV and leave it on standby, but your TV is continuously consuming power. It’s something everyone does, but even just switching the appliance off entirely can ensure that you save dollars. Over the course of a year, turning everything off instead of on standby can save you a large amount of money.
In fact, just switching the appliance off isn’t enough. There’s something called vampire energy that uses up electricity as long as your product is plugged in, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s off or on.
5. Wash Your Dishes by Hand
The dishwasher is an item of convenience. It also consumes a lot of power and water for every wash. Washing your dishes by hand requires no power whatsoever, but keep in mind that it may increase your water bill.
We recommend that you preserve the dishwasher for those occasions where you don’t have the time to wash by hand. You should also use the dishwasher only when it’s completely full. It’s a waste of energy – and costly – to turn the dishwasher on just for a few glasses and plates.
6. Wash Your Clothes During the Evening Hours
Kilowatt hours are simple enough to understand. Every hour of every day has a certain cost per kilowatt of energy used. Boiling water in your coffee pot at 9am will cost you more than boiling water in the same coffee pot at 3am. Hours of high demand command higher costs. This might not matter for the small things, but for things like washing your clothes it can add up.
Try to wash your clothes during the evening hours. The later you can wash them the better. Just put them in the washing machine and press the button when the cost per kilowatt is at its lowest.
7. Air Dry Your Clothes
Most people use a dryer to dry their clothes, but this isn’t necessary and can in fact be harmful to your clothes over time. Consider air drying your clothes instead, making them smell and feel fresher. It might take longer, but you’ll be saving a big chunk of change at the same time.
Take note that this is only practical outside of the winter months. It may not be worth saving a dollar or two if your clothes take a week to dry outside.
8. Get More Control with a Digital Thermostat
It’s common for people to switch on the thermostat and leave it set at a specific temperature for when they come back from work. Nobody wants to come back to a cold home, after all. This wastes a tremendous amount of energy, and it’s wasteful and terrible for the environment.
Get more control over your energy with a digital thermostat. These programmable devices are ideal because they allow you to set the temperature to rise at a specific time. That way, heating will only kick in around an hour before you return home from work.
9. Keep Heat Inside
We mentioned earlier that you can plug the gaps in the doors and windows to stop heat from escaping. If you want to make a large difference, try wall insulation and attic insulation.
Filling in the wall cavities with insulating material will keep heat in the room for longer. You can even insulate your entire attic space. Warm air rises when it leaves your home, so that warm air will take longer to leave if it comes up against an insulating wall.
10. Sunny Location? Try Solar Panels
An easy way to save money is to generate your own energy. Solar energy is one of the leading generators of energy in the United States today. Some states have even been known to offer tax cuts for homes that install solar panels.
Many believe that installing solar panels requires something of a large investment, but you can get started with small panels and work your way up. If you go all in, it may take a few years for you to recoup the cost of the installation, but over time you’ll be making a profit. If you live in a sunny part of the country, this is a great option for saving money on utility bills.
11. Use the Right Light Bulbs
The type of light bulb you use can have a big influence on your utility bills, and some are much more energy efficient than others. The only bulb you should have in your home is either a compact fluorescent (CFL) one or an LED one. We recommend that you stick to LED bulbs, as they use less energy than CFL ones. Keep in mind that LED bulbs don’t look good in certain homes.
Experiment with different bulbs and get used to the slight differences in the type of light emitted. Older bulbs typically release a more yellowish light, whereas LED emits a whitish light.
12. Make Sure You Are Using the Best Provider
Utility providers operate in a highly competitive environment. This has led many to believe that their prices are nearly the same and that there’s little point in looking elsewhere. This isn’t the case.
Check with other utility providers in your area to find out whether you’re getting the best deal. There are also plenty of calculators online for you to check out. Remember that sometimes it’s worth switching just to take advantage of introductory offers.
One tip is to call your current provider and tell them you’re thinking about leaving. This implicit threat can sometimes get them to give you preferential rates, at least for a short time. Since this is such a competitive industry, remember that the ball is in your court.
13. Paint the Roof White
Black absorbs heat and white reflects it. When you produce heat in your home, you want it to reflect into the room again. Studies have shown that houses with white roofs have lower utility bills than houses with roofs of any other color.
Consider painting your roof using an elastomeric coating. This can be found in practically any hardware store in the country, although it’s more prominent in the southern United States. This elastomeric coating is waterproof and durable. It will even protect the lifespan of your roof and make it more water resistant.
14. Stop Getting Charged Twice for Water
Most people don’t know that every month they’re charged twice for the water they use. They’re charged for water when it comes out of the faucet and they’re charged again when the water leaves the house and enters the sewerage system.
One secret to saving on your utilities is to use that same water to irrigate the outdoors. Never worry about keeping your garden hydrated again because you can stop the water from entering the sewerage system.
Many utility companies offer a separate meter. This meter will measure the amount of water you’re using for irrigation. Every month the number on the meter goes back to the utility company and the final amount is subtracted from the sewerage bill.
What you should keep in mind is that this meter will cost you near a hundred dollars, meaning it may take you a few years to get the money back out of it.
15. Stop Your Water Heater at 120
Without human intervention, your water heater will continue to heat water for as long as it’s switched on. Not a lot of people know that they can limit exactly what temperature it’s heated up to.
Stopping your water heater before it hits 120 degrees is a wise idea since it reduces the risk of scalding and you still get hot water without the need to spend any more than you must. Some studies state that you can save up to $60 a year just by implementing this change.
16. Change the Filter on Your HVAC System Regularly
One of the biggest mistakes made by households is they put off the task of replacing their filter. They don’t want to spend the few bucks on purchasing a new pack of filters, and so their HVAC system becomes more inefficient. They’re then using more energy to get the same performance out of it. This can cost almost a hundred dollars every year, with dirtier filters.
You should perform a regular inspection of your HVAC system. Make sure the filter isn’t getting clogged. This is important not just for saving money on your utilities, but also to preserve the lifespan of your HVAC system.
17. Read Your Own Meter
American households tend to open their utility bills and pay what they owe. Have you ever considered that the number on that bill isn’t correct?
When you read your bill, you’ll find a number indicating what was read on your meter. Sometimes mistakes can be made, so be sure to match up the number on your meter with that presented on the utility bill. If there’s a major discrepancy between the two, you should call and complain. This happens more often than you might think.
Saving money on utilities is just about being aware of where money can go missing. Look at some of the options and invest in the long-term fate of your utilities. If you know of any tips that aren’t on this list and should be when it comes to saving energy, feel free to let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!