Saving money on utility bills can really impact your budget. Utility bills are one of your biggest monthly expenses. There are a number of short-term and long-term things you can do to save money. In order to save the most money on your utility bills, it’s important to change your energy settings, stop your energy waste, and upgrading your appliances. Though many of these tactics may seem relatively minor, they can lead to a big increase in savings over the long term.
Adjust your thermostat.
Heating and cooling can be roughly half of the utility bill costs in your home. Keep your thermostat warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
You can also get a programmable thermostat to save money. When no one is home, you can keep your settings closer to the outdoor temperature to avoid heating or cooling an empty place.
During the winter months, consider keeping your thermostat between 55 and 64°F (12.7 and 17.8°C) . In the summer, between 72 and 74°F (22.2 and 23.3°C) is probably ideal. Make sure the temperature is not set too low in the winter to avoid freezing pipes, and avoid setting it too high in the summer to avoid peeling paint or wallpaper.
Adjust your water heater.
Locate your water heater and set it to 120°F. You can save between 3 and 5% for every 10ºF you lower your heater (if it is set above 120°F). So, if it was set at 160°F, lowering it to 120°F could save you 20% on your heating bill.
In addition, using insulated plumbing and insulation on your hot-water storage tank can keep water warm for longer and allow the water to retain heat as it travels through the house.
Install plumbing fixtures with lower water flow.
Plumbing can be a large waste of water and drive up your water bill. Try switching to a shower head with less water flow and a low-flow toilet to save on the amount of water you use.
Low flow shower heads put out 1.5 gallons of water per minute. In contrast, regular shower heads can put out as much as 4.5 gallons of water per minute.
Even though low flow shower heads produce less water, you should still get plenty of water pressure to stay clean. If the pressure is not enough, consider getting a low flow handheld nozzle.
Old toilets used 3 – 6 gallons per flush — federal standards now say that toilets can use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. It may be more expensive to buy, but you will save money in the long-term by using less water.
Fill the dishwater when you use it.
If you have a dishwasher, it’s important to always run it as a full load. Organize the dishwasher well so everything gets clean, but make sure there is no additional space.
Also, consider turning off the heat dry on your dishwasher. Instead, you can lead your dishes air dry in the dishwasher
Wash and dry pots and pans by hand. They use a lot of space in the dishwasher, so you’ll likely use the dishwasher less if you wash these yourself.
Change the way you wash and dry your clothes.
90% of your washing machine’s energy goes toward heating the water to wash your clothes. Switching to washing your clothes in cold water instead can save a huge amount of energy. On top of that, consider hanging your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer. Set up a clothesline outside and let the sun do the work.
As with washing dishes, refrain from washing tiny loads. Don’t over-load the washer, but make sure you’re doing a full load every time.
Think about your appliance use when cooking.
Your oven uses a lot of energy, so think about if you need it when cooking. It may be more energy efficient to use your toaster oven or microwave to cook rather than your oven in some cases.
Your toaster oven can cook most anything your oven can. If you are baking or cooking something small, use the toaster oven instead to save energy.
Baking foods like potatoes can be done more efficiently in the microwave. The microwave can also be used for reheating rather than using the oven too much.
Eliminate any luxury utilities.
If you are really looking to save money, it may be a good idea to get rid of cable TV or land line telephones. These bills can really add up over time and you can work around not having them easily.
If you get rid of cable TV, you can get a digital antennae for relatively cheap. Using the digital antennae, you can get local channels without a problem. For other channels, consider using online media to supplement your broadcast channels.
When you have a cell phone, it may be redundant to have a home telephone. If you don’t use your home phone often, get rid of it and replace it with your cell phone as a phone of regular use.
Consider switching to a slower speed internet connection. It may take a little longer for things to load, but you’ll be paying less.
Insulate your home.
Plenty of energy goes to waste because of leaks in the home. Even if you are renting, there are plenty of easy ways you can prevent heating or cooling from leaving your home.
Use weatherstripping for your doors and windows. This can prevent any leaks of heating or cooling to the outside.
Outlets and light switches can also have insulation added to them. It may be an especially good idea to insulate them if they’re on an exterior wall.
If you own your home, make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls and ceiling. If you have an unfinished attic, for instance, lay down insulation between and over the floor joists. You may also want to insulate the rafters and the access door.
Unplug unused power strips.
Power strips can use a lot of energy, even if nothing is plugged into them and running. If you’re not using a power strip, turn it off or unplug it.
You can also turn power strips off when you’re not using them. However, they can still draw some energy just by being plugged in.
Buying a smart power strip could also save money. Smart power strips cut energy to devices that are not currently in use and only charge those devices currently being used.
Turn off lights when you’re not in the room.
Lights do not use a lot of energy, but it’s good to only keep them on when you’re in the room. If you leave for the day, make sure all the lights are off in your home.
Whenever you leave a room, check to make sure all the lights are off. There’s no need to light a room that no one is in for long periods of time.
Keeping lights on a timer may also be a good idea. You may want some lights on during the evening, especially if you’re returning to your place at night. You could also try exterior lights that are motion-sensor so they will only turn on when someone approaches.
Unplug appliances that aren’t essential.
While some appliances you want to keep plugged in all the time, others don’t need to be plugged in unless they are being used. If they don’t need power to operate all the time, consider unplugging some appliances.
Some appliances drain energy even if they’re not being used. This is especially true for media devices, such as computers and televisions. Try unplugging them any time they are not actively being used.
Keep essential appliances plugged in. Anything that could cause damage or be potentially unsafe, such as fridges or alarm systems, should be kept plugged in.
Check for energy waste on a daily basis.
You can save a lot of money on your electric bill by staying vigilant about energy waste. Building habits to prevent energy waste can be very useful for lowering your utility bills.
Try using an energy monitoring system to track and record specifically what uses the most energy in your home. Some systems may also tell you peak times of use along with how much energy is being used.
Do a nightly check of your energy usage. Look at all power strips, appliances, and lights to make sure they are only plugged in and running if necessary.
Look for any leaks near windows or doors. Insulation can erode, so replacing when it starts to go is important.
Purchase energy smart appliances.
These appliances shift energy use to less peak hours and can reduce your overall energy use. Though they may occasionally be more expensive, they will save you money in the long term.
Energy smart appliances will have the “Energy Star” label, which means it meets the minimum energy standards set by the federal government. When shopping for smart appliances, make sure anything you purchase at least has this label.
Appliances also usually have the “Energy Guide” label. This label estimates the operating cost of the appliance, as well as its annual energy usage.
Replace your light bulbs.
Light bulbs use different amounts of energy depending on the type of bulb. Changing your light bulbs with smart bulbs can save you money immediately, but also in the long term, since the bulbs often last longer.
Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) are the best light bulbs for saving money on electricity. They use less wattage, but produce the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDs do not give off as much heat, which can be especially useful to keep your cooling costs down in the warmer months.
Smart bulbs can be turned off more easily and be set on a timer. Although they are potentially more expensive, they can save money in the long term.
Use the power saver switch on your refrigerator.
Many new refrigerators have power saver switches that can reduce your energy costs. It prevents the fridge from working too hard when it does not need to.
Turn your power saver switch on in the summer, since it is warmer outside. Conversely, yoru can turn it off during the winter since it is cooler.
If you don’t have an energy saver fridge, consider getting one with your next appliance purchase. Also, if you rent, talk to you landlord about one, since it may save them money in the long term.
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Consider solar energy
. The amount you can save by installing a solar electric system depends on a number of factors, including the amount of sun you get in your area, cost of installation, and how much space you have to install panels. If, for instance, you have very little room to install solar panels, and the cost to install and operate a system are hefty, you may not end up saving when all is said and done. Or, if you are in an area of the country that doesn’t get much sun, you may not benefit as much from a solar system. On the other hand, if the factors line up, you may end up saving a bundle.
Talk to your local solar system supplier for an estimate and analysis. Ask how much your system would generate per year and compare that to how much energy you consume in your household.
Look into solar rebate programs, subsidies, and tax incentives for solar systems. You may be eligible for a sales tax exemption your purchase, a property tax exemption, or state personal income tax credits.