When it comes down to the essentials, you can’t get much more essential that heat, water and light, and unless you live in Alaska or someplace similar, air conditioning in the summer. But while your utilities may be absolutely essential, the amount you pay on your utility bills is not. There are a number of ways to save money on your utilities, and here are a few of them.
If warmed air in winter or cooled air in summer is leaking out of your windows and beneath your doors, that represents money that is seeping out of your home for no good reason. Renovations, many of which can be do-it-yourself, will pay off much more quickly than you think, and you’ll be that much more snug in winter and cool in summer as well.
And if you have more house than you are using, the simple act of closing the vents in the rooms you aren’t using, and then closing their doors and making sure the space beneath those doors is blocked, will let you save even more on your heating and air conditioning bills. The laundry room offers a different method of savings. Open the door to that room in the winter, and close it in summer.
Make sure the lights in your home are only on where you and your family members are. The lights should follow you around, they shouldn’t be on for hours in an empty room, waiting for your return. Your mom was right about that one.
The relatively new LED light bulbs are expensive, but you will make that up in their remarkably long lifespan. And they use only a fraction of the energy that incandescent bulbs use while providing a light quality that many believe is comparable to incandescent. It’s an investment, but you can make the conversion slowly over time, as your current bulbs burn out. As for those swirly fluorescent bulbs the government has been ushering us into using, if you don’t mind the light quality, they will save you a great deal of money, and unlike LED bulbs, they are not expensive to buy in the first place.
Air conditioners don’t last forever and they are of course a major expense in themselves. So extending their life with regular maintenance will save both on electricity bill, and will delay the reckoning that will come with the serviceman or woman give you the grim news they you need a new unit. Using a programmable thermostat is also important, since that will allow you to maintain the temperature you desire.
When you are brushing your teeth, you are preparing to use the faucet, but you’re not actually using it, so it doesn’t need to be on. Nearly four gallons of water goes down the drain each minute that a faucet is on, which is far more than most people expect. Also, if you use a dishwasher, try turning off the dry cycle to save on electricity, and don’t thaw food by running hot water over it. You can use the “defrost” setting on the microwave instead.
In many areas, the electric company will charge less for electricity usage during off-peak hours. Call them and ask, and then make sure to run your dishwasher during that period.
Do not overstuff your dryer, and remember that clothes expand as they dry, meaning that your dryer on average can only handle about 3/4s of what your washing machine can hold. Maybe the manufacturers should have thought more about that. Towels can be air-dried, and they won’t be an eyesore provided you hang them up in a room that doesn’t get much foot traffic.
If you use a lot of water in your yard, for a swimming pool or watering, consider getting an irrigation meter. This costs a few hundred dollars, but it allows the utility company to subtract the water for outdoor use from you sewage water bill. Recall that you are charged separately for water pumped in and sewage water pumped out. This will reduce the bill for the water pumped out.
If you are cooking for one, using your toaster oven will save a great deal of energy. And preheating your oven is not really needed if you are cooking something for upwards of an hour.
Benjamin Franklin was right, a penny saved is a penny earned, and keeping your fixed costs as low as possible will free up money that is being lost for no good reason. There a lot of utility in saving on your utilities!