4 Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Utility bills can get expensive, and this is especially true during the hottest and coldest months of the year. Unfortunately, utilities are necessary for most people, so the bills themselves can’t really be avoided. In order to save money on your utility bills, the best idea is to try to cut costs, rather than simply living in a dark house or a boiling apartment.

In order to trim expenses, you will have to make some lifestyle changes, but if you really want to save money, then those changes will be worth it when your bills go down. In addition to lifestyle changes, simpler changes can also save you money by increasing the efficiency of your home. Once you can cut down your utility bills, you will have more money to pay other bills, or to use in other ways. Here are four ways to save money on your utility bills.

1. Conserve, conserve, conserve

Conservation isn’t just for environmentalists; it can also save you money. It seems silly to unplug your computer when you are not using it, to turn off the water as you brush your teeth, or to turn off your bathroom light if you know you are coming back in a few minutes. However, while leaving a light on for a few extra minutes won’t cost you a lot, over time the energy consumption adds up. Energy efficient lighting will also save you money; you should purchase lighting based on lumens, not watts, which will allow you to achieve the lighting you actually want.

It may seem like running your dishwasher uses more water than hand washing dishes, but if you use an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, you can save $40 or more per year, in addition to saving time.

2. Adjust your thermostat

Obviously the lower you set your thermostat to cool your home, or the higher you set it to keep your home warm, the more work that will be required, and the higher bill you will receive each month. If you can throw on a sweatshirt during the day, or bundle up in blankets at night, you should try it this winter so that you can save money. If you live in a warmer climate and you need to cool your house, try using fans and keeping your thermostat slightly higher.

It can also help to program your thermostat. According to Energy.gov, set your thermostat to 68°F while you are awake, and then set it to a lower temperature when you are asleep or out. If you turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill. If you’re away at work anyway, or you are able to sleep in a colder temperature (or if you can keep your home warmer while you are at work in hotter areas) then you can painlessly save money.

3. Compare prices

Although many geographical areas are primarily served by one electric company, consumers often have a choice of providers (this is true if an area is deregulated). Don’t assume that you are getting the best deal — go out and do your research. Or, search by your ZIP code through Save On Energy. If you are happy with the costumer service at your current provider, but you want lower prices, then a lower quote from a competitor might help you get a better deal.

This is also true for telephone and cable service. If you can quote a better deal, then you might get your current bill lowered. You can also save money by asking for a bundled service if you also want cable or Internet. Lastly, consider asking if you can get the new customer deal even if you have been with the company for a while. Most likely they will want to keep your business.

4. Do the work

There are several other ways to save money on your utility bills that might require a little more work or a change in your lifestyle. You can turn your water heater temperature down to save money, but you will have to adjust to colder showers. If you are able to hang your clothes outside on a nice day, that will save you money. Letting your dishes air dry will also cut down on costs.

If your washer, dryer, dishwasher, furnace, or other appliance has a major problem, take the time to fix it (for example, a leak or malfunctioning electronic issue). Although problems can seem small, even something like cleaning out a duct might help your dryer work more efficiently (therefor lessening the amount of times you have to run clothes through.)

If you are willing to make a combination of a few lifestyle choices (such as wasting less electricity and water), and a few common sense changes (such as programming your thermostat and comparing utility prices) you can quickly cut down on your utility bills.

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