The basic rule of budgeting are pretty straightforward: Don’t spend more than you take in, and cut out the nonessential spending first. None of us really need to be swinging by Starbucks every morning, or eating out twice a week, or filling our carts at Target or Wally World with cute stuff we could easily live without. And deep down most of us know that, even if we don’t always abide by it.
And by realizing that we need to buffer the non-essential spending is super important for a healthy financial life, it is also a very smart idea to regularly take a good hard look at those things we DO need to spend our hard-earned money on, things like electricity and water and utilities. After all, none of us want to to pay more than we have to! Below are some ways to save on your utilities.
1. TURN DOWN
Turning down the heat in the winter and the air conditioner in the summer is one of the fastest ways to see a significant savings on your electricity bill. In warm climates keep your AC set to no less than 79 degrees which still feels cool as compared to the hot temps outside. In cooler climates, try keeping the thermostat set at 68 during the day and then turning it down to 65 at night. For additional savings, be sure to also set the temperature lower while you are away. THIS WILL SAVE YOU MONEY!!
Likewise, turning down the temperature on your hot water heater can make a significant difference as well. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing your temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees will save at least $2 a month. It’s only a couple of Georges but everyone counts!!
2. TURN OFF
Keeping lights and ceiling fans turned off when not in use is one of the best habits you can develop. Just one ceiling fan running constantly will add an extra $7 a month to your electric bill! Develop a “turn it off” rule for all overhead lights, lamps, and appliances. Be sure to fully turn off electronics that go into “standby” mode such as computers and printers, as they are still drawing electricity in standby mode. Unplugging appliances when not in use can help a lot too.
3. STOP PRE-RINSING
The truth is that most newer model dishwashers are designed specifically to remove and break down food particles from dishes, leaving them sparkling clean with no pre-rinse required, and skipping this step can save up to $70 dollars a year!
4. AIR DRY
While it does take a little longer, air-drying your clothes, dishes, and even your hair as often as possible can cut a big chunk out of your power bill each month! Clothes dryers are ENERGY SUCKERS! Start by changing your dishwasher settings to air dry rather than heat dry, then, whenever possible, line or flat dry your clothes. When you do need to use the dryer, use the auto sensor function to avoid drying longer than possible. (And don’t just keep tumbling the clothes because you don’t have time to fold them! Not that I’ve ever done that…) SAVING WILL MAKE YOUR WALLET SMILE!!
5. KEEP IT CLEAN
Be sure to clean your dryer lint screen before each use to help it run more efficiently. Likewise, keep your air filters clean and changed regularly in order to save energy on heating and cooling the house. Be EFFICIENT!
6. LET’S GET STINGY WITH IT
Look for ways to use less water in your every day activities, including adjusting your washer to use the lowest water setting necessary when doing a load of laundry, and not letting the water run while brushing your teeth or washing dishes by hand. Consider replacing shower heads with low-flow heads, or place a bottle filled with sand in your toilet tanks so that they use less water each flush. I’ve done this for years! It’s called water displacement. Saves HUNDREDS of gallons over the years!
7. CHECK FOR LEAKS
Hidden water leaks can result in abnormally high water bills, and none of us want to pay for something we’re not even using! If you’re not sure why your bill is so high, do a leak test by checking your water meter right before bedtime and then as soon as you wake up. If the numbers have changed, you may have a leak somewhere. Try these six tips for finding it yourself, or else call a plumber. I recently had to replace ALL the plumbing in my home. Every last pipe! We live in a house built back in 1945 (although the plumbing wasn’t quite that old but close!) so I’m sure it was time. I’m quite certain I had a small water leak for years and it was in a place literally impossible to get to. Finally, the main water supply line from the street literally disintegrated. The plumber came and evaluated my situation and recommended I TOTALLY REPLACE IT ALL. Nevertheless, my water bill has went down! Below is a pic of my bathroom floor during the process of replacing my plumbing.
8. ELIMINATE DRAFTS
Drafty windows can be a huge source of heat loss during cold winter months, so be sure to cover them up as much as possible. Or if possible replace them with quality double paned windows. If not, use a ready-to-go winterization kit, or create your own with tape and plastic, sheets, or blankets. If the drafts are really bad, consider installing heavy insulating curtains as well in order to improve energy efficiency. Be sure to also keep the damper closed on your fireplace when not in use to eliminate drafts through the chimney. Every little thing you do will make a difference.
9. NEED INSULATION?
Poor quality (or no) insulation will make your home cold in the wintertime and unbearably hot in the summertime, and can add hundreds of dollars to your utility bills over the course of a year. It is worth the investment to add additional insulation to your attic and walls. Be sure to first eliminate any drafts, as insulation will not stop air flow. My old house needs this BAD!
10. ARE YOU PAYING SMART?
If possible, consider setting up your utility bills to be paid with a credit card that offers rewards or cash back. Please note that this is only a good option if you able to be 100% diligent about paying off your balance on time each month. The rewards will be completely neutralized if you have to pay interest or late fees! However, if you are very disciplined when it comes to bill-paying and credit cards, this is a great way to earn a little extra on something you have to pay anyway!
11. GET EFFICIENT
When purchasing new appliances or fixtures, be sure to opt for the most energy efficient styles available. This goes for large appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and washers & dryers, but also for things like toilets, shower heads, and faucets.
12. CUT THE CORD!!
Consider eliminating land line phone or cable service altogether! Come on….land line?? Seriously??? CUT THAT CORD NOW! Your cell is all you need! And cable tv? WHAT A MONEY RACKET!! You pay for hundreds of channels and watch 3-5. INSANITY! CUT THE DAMN CORD!
So rely only on your cell phone service. This will save you $50-$100 a month or more! We also use a ROKU box to stream movies and television shows from Netflix and Sling TV. THIS SAVES BOOKOOS OF GEORGES EACH MONTH!!
There are no shortage of ways to save once you start looking; sometimes it is just a matter of thinking outside the box! You can ALWAYS SAVE $$$ IF YOU REALLY WANT TO!
Sources: livingwellspendingless.com, savinggeorge.com
How do YOU save on utilities? Please share your ideas and tips in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,