Everyone wants to save more money. This is especially true with utility bills. Did you know that you can save hundreds of dollars on your utility bills every year by making simple changes in your home? Heck, if you’re a heavy power user, you might even be able to save that much each month. What amounts to a few dollars here and there can save you a bundle over the course of 12 months.
Here are seven easy changes you can make that could save you hundreds on your utility bills. These savings can then be used for paying down debt (yes please!), funding a savings account (have you tried Digit yet?), or investing (I use Betterment). Remember, you need to make sure to calculate the break-even point, especially if you’re going to buy items in order to reduce your energy usage. There’s no point in doing it if the return on investment is going to be longer than you plan on being in your home.
In addition to the below, make sure to take advantage of different financial incentives from the government and non-profits. At any given time there are different energy saving schemes to take advantage of.
Weather proof your windows
One of the most effective ways to save money on your utility bills is to weather proof your windows. This is particularly effective in the winter. Simply use caulking to fill in cracks around your window frames. You can also hang heavy curtains or plastic over your windows to prevent warm air from escaping. This can save you up to 20 percent on your bill each month. If you have older windows, but don’t have the money to replace them, think about adding storm windows. Not only do they protect your windows from damage, but they also help prevent drafts.
Check your insulation
Insulation is inexpensive and fairly easy to install. Updating your insulation could save you up to 15 percent each month (A savings of even $15 a month adds up to $180 per year!). If your insulation is in poor condition, get quotes on spray foam insulation. I just did this in my basement and garage and I’m glad I did. It was a great investment. It does cost more upfront, but it lasts longer and can help insulate better. It fills cracks that you might not notice.
I also just added more blown-in insulation in our attic as it was lacking quite a bit. There has been a noticeable difference in our cooling bills, but we also got an incentive from our electric company, which paid for about 50% of the total cost. Perfect!
Check your water heater
Make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees, instead of the typical 140 degrees*. This small change still allows you to have plenty of hot water for your baths of showers, but can save you up to 10 percent on your energy bill each month. Also, if your water heater is installed in a relatively insulation-free place, such as your garage or attic, you may want to insulate the water heater with a wrap. I did this in our old house when our water heater was in the garage. This is especially helpful in the winter when your water heater is trying hard to keep the water warm in the tank.
*I was made aware via Twitter there seems to be conflicting information about water heater temperature settings. Though you don’t want to scald with 140 degree water, you also don’t want bacteria growing in your tank. Temperatures below 140 degrees run the risk of bacteria associated with Legionnaire’s disease. This is pronounced in electric water heaters. Though some agree and some don’t, I wanted to provide this to allow you to make your own decision.
Install a ceiling fan
Running a ceiling fan will help circulate cool air in the summer. This can help reduce your electric bill by reducing the need to run your air conditioner frequently. You may also consider investing in a few inexpensive box fans to place throughout your home. You can also run a ceiling fan in the winter time. By reversing the direction of the spin, you can circulate the warm air throughout the room without pushing air down on yourself. This is an extremely effective way to keep your house warm. I turn all of my ceiling fans around, especially in our bigger rooms. Just turn it on low and enjoy the warm air!
Bonus Tip – Running ceiling fans with a good programmable thermostat can save you a lot of money every year. That’s how you combine savings, or stacking as I like to call it.
Unplug it all
You can easily save more than $100 per year by unplugging all of your electronics when you aren’t using them. To simplify things, purchase a few power strips* (these are awesome) and plug anything that can safely be shut off each night into the same strip. Simply flip the switch off every night or whenever the items aren’t in use to save big. Things you can keep unplugged include gaming consoles, televisions, stereos, cell phone chargers, toasters, microwaves, coffee makers and blenders. Be cognizant of things that take a long time to boot up when you turn them off. Cable boxes and computers take some energy to turn back on. This is especially true with cable boxes. You can put those on a different power strip and be OK.
*Since you’re playing with electronics, make sure you get a power strip that also has surge protection. Very important!
If you really want to know more about your electricity usage, get the Kill A Watt. I have one and love it. You just plug in your appliance or electronic device, then plug in the Kill A Watt into the outlet. Once you program in what your average cost per kilowatt hour is, then it will estimate how much leaving your device on will cost you. It’s great and worth the cost. You can get that information off your last electric bill.
Stuff your freezer
You refrigerator and freezer can suck up lots of energy. Reduce the amount of power your fridge and freezer uses by keeping it full. Add water bottles to your freezer and your fridge to take up extra space that isn’t being used by food. When the freezer or fridge is full, the unit requires less energy to circulate the cold air.
Do more for less
Simple changes like running your washer and dryer at night instead of the daytime can save you a bundle, running your appliances during off peak times costs less. Another change: ditch the hand blenders and electric can openers and do the work yourself. You can even cut back on dryer usage by hanging clothes to dry on a clothes line. There are a lot of ways to do more with less, but you just have to be willing to do it in order to save money. In fact, here are 43 ways you can start saving money today.
Making a few small changes to your routine can save you a lot of money. If you save that money every month, you’ll have enough extra to put towards a vacation or a special purchase. More conscious energy consumption can be rewarding.
What’s something you have done in your home to save money? Share below in the comments!
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