17 Ways to Save Money on Your Utilities
Tired of paying what feels like way too much for your utilities? Use these money-saving tips to lower your bills today.
Your utility bills can be more unpredictable than almost any other bill. You might not think that you’re doing anything different month to month, but your utility bills tell a different story. If you’re looking for ways to save money you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to make radical changes to your habits. Here’s a list of ideas and tips so you can learn some easy ways to lower your bills.
- Install a Smart Thermostat: Install a smart programmable thermostat that allows you to automatically regulate your home heating and cooling. Programmable thermostats can save numerous temperature settings for each day and allow you to create recurring schedules for what and at what temperature your heating and cooling system runs. Smart thermostats can be adjusted from almost anywhere with the use of an app, so if it’s hotter than expected and you’re heading home early, you can adjust the thermostat to a more comfortable level before you arrive. Check out the Emmerson Sensi wifi Smart Thermostat that works with Alexa and other smart devices, or the Google Nest Smart Thermostat.
- Adjust your thermostat a couple of degrees: Even a couple of degrees can make a noticeable impact on your energy bill. In fact, for every degree you turn your thermostat down during the winter or up during the summer, you’ll save a measurable percentage on your bill.
- Install Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans circulate air in the room to create a draft throughout. Although a ceiling fan doesn’t alter the temperature, it creates a wind-chill effect that will help keep you comfortable. Because of the cooling effect, ceiling fans may allow you to raise the thermostat setting by a few degrees without sacrificing your comfort. When shopping for a ceiling fan, look for an Energy Star certified model. On average, a ceiling fan that earned the Energy Star label circulates air 20% more efficiently than a standard model. Check out this Honeywell 52 inch Energy Star Ceiling Fan.
- Install Weatherstripping: Weatherstripping doors and windows in your home can stop the air from leaking out of your house. Sealing cracks and air leaks, especially in an old and drafty house, can save you more than 20% on your heating and cooling bills, according to the Energy Department. Weatherstripping comes in a variety of materials, with some more cost-effective than others. As you’re shopping for weatherstripping, choose products that will best withstand weather, temperature changes, and normal wear and tear.
- Install Sun-Blocking Window Treatments: During summer months, a majority of the sunlight that hits standard double-pane windows makes its way inside as heat. Window treatments that block sunlight prevent that heat from entering, which then helps reduce the energy needed to cool your home. Energy-saving window treatments can include shades, blinds, curtains, and shutters. Window films can also be applied to the glass to block solar heat from penetrating. With this much variety, you can choose window treatments that save energy while also fitting the style of your home.
- Swap Out Your Lightbulbs: Swapping out traditional incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to cut your energy bills. 90% of the energy produced by incandescent light bulbs is given off as heat, which means you’re essentially throwing away money every time you turn on the switch. Thanks to modern technology, we can now swap those old bulbs for energy-efficient halogen incandescent, CFL, and LED bulbs. Although the initial price of these bulbs will be higher, they not only consume less energy, but they also last much longer than a traditional incandescent bulb.
- Invest in New Energy-Efficient Appliances: When you purchase a new appliance, you have to consider both of its price tags: the purchase price and the cost of operation. Although energy-efficient appliances may sometimes have a larger price tag, they pay for themselves over time by helping you save money on reduced energy use. Whether it’s a dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, or any other appliance, swapping out old appliances for new, Energy Star labeled ones could go a long way in helping reduce your energy costs.
- Air-Dry Your Clothes: If you’ve planned how to manage your money in the laundry room by washing with cold water instead of hot water, using a lower heat setting on the dryer, and not overfilling your dryer with clothes, you may consider ditching the dryer altogether and opting to air dry your clothes instead. On top of saving you money, you’ll better preserve your clothes. Although convenient, dryers weaken the fabric’s fibers and they end up in your lint catcher and then your clothes eventually come apart and end up in the trash. Therefore, hanging your clothes out to dry will save you money in multiple ways.
- Cook Indoors in the Winter and Outdoors in the Summer: You can reduce the amount of energy it takes to cool your home during the summer by avoiding using appliances that generate large amounts of heat, such as your oven. Instead, consider cooking the majority of your meals outside. You can take the traditional summer approach of cooking on a grill or use a portable propane or electric burner. The opposite is true for winter months. If you do all your cooking indoors, the extra heat from the oven can help heat your home.
- Replace Heating and Cooling Units with Energy-Efficient Models: You can implement all the aforementioned energy-saving tips, but if your heating system and/or air conditioner are old and inefficient, you won’t see as much savings as you could. Replacing your older system with an energy-efficient model will be an investment, but you will see more savings in the long run.
- Insulate Your Water Heater: If your water heater is warm to the touch, it’s possible this heat loss is costing you money. Whether you’re running on gas or electric, you’re using more to keep reheating that water. But just like insulating your walls, insulating your water heater can help reduce heating and cooling costs each month. A newer model hot water heater will likely already be insulated, but an older heater might not be. According to the Energy Department, your water heater should have insulation with an R-value (thermal resistance) of at least 24. If it doesn’t, consider adding extra insulation to your water tank.
- Run Your Dishwasher Only When It's Full: If you think you’re using less water by hand washing the dishes, you’re wasting more than just time. An Energy Star labeled dishwasher can save you more than 7,000 gallons of water a year over hand washing. You can make the most efficient use out of your dishwasher by running it only when you’ve accumulated enough dirty dishes for a full load. Running the dishwasher only when it’s full can prevent 100 pounds of carbon pollution and save $40 a year on your energy bill.
- Install a Low-Flow Toilet: Older toilets can use more than 6 gallons of water each time they’re flushed compared to the one or two gallons per flush of modern, low-flush toilets. If you have an older toilet, it could be the greatest source of wasted water in your home.Newer toilets that carry the WaterSense label are independently certified and must meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Replacing old, inefficient toilets with a WaterSense labeled model can reduce water usage by nearly 13,000 gallons every year.
- Install Water-Waving Shower-heads and Faucets: Although federal regulations require newer-model showerheads and faucets not to exceed more than 2 1/2 gallons per minute at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch, you can buy water-saving fixtures that reduce your consumption even more. Quality, low-flow showerheads shouldn’t run you more than $20 each and could result in savings on your water bill of 25% to 60%. For maximum water-efficiency, look for an aerator for your faucets that restrict flow rates to no more than 1.0 GPM.
- Get New Water-Efficient Appliances: Swapping out old, inefficient appliances for new, water-efficient appliances may be the best way to reduce the amount of water you use. If you don’t want to spend a large amount of money at once, you might formulate a plan to replace one appliance at a time. There are also zero-interest credit cards that are great credit cards for making large purchases. You essentially get free financing and at least a year of time to pay off your money-saving appliances.
- Consider Paying Your Utility Bills with a Credit Card: Many different types of utility companies allow this now, and if you use a cash back credit card, you could earn money or rewards just for paying your monthly bills. If you’re not paying with a rewards credit card, you could be paying too much for your utilities.
- Set up Budget Billing for your utilities: Budget billing might not save you money, but it does make monthly budgeting easier because you will know how much each utility bill will be each month. Budget billing works like this: Utility companies (your electric, natural gas companies, etc.) add up your bills for the last twelve months and divide the total by twelve to determine a fixed amount for your bill for the next twelve months.Based on your historical average usage, the companies are assuming you’ll use about the same amount of their product in the coming year.At year’s end, the billing system compares the amount of energy you actually used with the amount you paid during the year. If you paid more than you used, you get a refund credit on your next bill. If you paid less than you used, you get billed for the additional amount at the end of the year.
Although your utility bills will fluctuate according to your usage, you can save money on utilities by implementing these cost-cutting tips. Although the upfront cost of replacing older, inefficient appliances or heating and cooling systems with energy-efficient models might be expensive, they will pay for themselves over time.
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