Utilities are, of course, necessary. You can’t live without heat, hot water, and electricity—at least not comfortably. But, you can live without high utility bills. There are simple ways to lower your utility bills that you can start doing right away. While not every idea will result in sizable savings, if you combine them you should see a difference in your next round of utility bills.
1. Utility Bill Saver: Attic Insulation
Given that heat rises, it’s no surprise that your attic is where most of your home’s heat escapes. According to Energy Star, you can save up to 20% on your electric bill by insulating your home. Most insulation is made from fiberglass and is inexpensive and easy to install. An online search will generate lots of DIY installation guides to help you through the process. And don’t forget to insulate your outlets and switches. Energy is lost through these as well, especially the ones on exterior walls. You’ll find pre-made, fireproof insulation for these areas at your hardware store.
2. Utility Bill Saver: Weather Stripping
Get ready for another Internet search. This time, look for guides on how to install weather stripping to your home and save on your utility bills. This inexpensive fix prevents heating and cooling from escaping through the cracks around doors and windows. You should be able to stop any leaks with just a day’s work, and this could make a noticeable difference in your energy bill.
3. Utility Bill Saver: Programmable Thermostat
Is your house vacant in the daytime? If so, there’s no reason you should pay to heat or cool it while you’re away. A programmable thermostat will let you set your temperature to 78 degrees in the summer and 64 degrees in winter. These are the two settings recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S.D.E.) for comfort and cost-savings. According to the U.S.D.E., an investment of under $100 for a programmable thermostat can save you up to 10 percent on your energy bill.
4. Utility Bill Saver: Low-Flow Shower Heads
Save on your water bill in about 5 minutes by installing a low-flow shower head. Older shower heads put out approximately 5 gallons of water per minute while low-flow shower heads use only about 1.5 gallons per minute and still produce strong water pressure. Given that these shower heads start at just $10 and all you need to install one is a wrench, there’s no reason not to start cutting back on your water bills right away.
5. Utility Bill Saver: Water Heater Insulation
Did you know that your water heater keeps a reserve of hot water on hand for when you turn the faucet? While this makes for a comfortable shower, it means that the standing hot water can cool down, increasing your utility bill to heat it twice. According to the U.S.D.E., wrapping your hot water heater in insulation or getting a pre-made water heater jacket will reduce the amount of heat lost by 25-45 percent. This could save you up to 10 percent on your energy bills.
6. Utility Bill Saver: Cold Water Wash
Few people know that ninety percent of the energy used in your washing machine goes to heat the water and adds substantially to your utility bill. With that in mind, switching to a cold water cycle will result in sizable savings on your energy bill. And according to experts including a leading detergent manufacturer, washing in cold cleans just as well as using hot. What’s more, you’ll not only save on your electric bill, you’ll also save on energy which is good for the planet.
7. Utility Bill Saver: Dishwashers on Full
If you’re not already doing so, make sure you never run your dishwasher with less than a full load. Another way to save is to turn off the “heat dry” setting and let your dishes air dry. And finally, wash pots and pans by hand. These items take up a lot of room in your dishwasher. You’re better off doing them by hand and packing your dishwasher with plates and glasses to avoid a fat utility bill.
8. Utility Bill Saver: Cook Wisely
Use your toaster oven or your microwave whenever possible. Your oven has a lot of space to heat before it reaches the desired temperature, so it uses a lot of energy which increases your utility bill. If you just need to heat something, popping it into the microwave will probably heat it more thoroughly and cost less than using your oven. If you do need to bake or broil something, your toaster oven requires a lot less energy than the oven in your stove which will contribute to a lower bill. Plus, it’s easier to clean.
9. Utility Bill Saver: Energy Star
Whenever possible, buy appliances that carry an Energy Star rating. Not only are they more cost-efficient to run than their counterparts, they’re usually competitive priced. If you do have to spend a little more for an Energy Star-rated appliance, remember to consider the savings you’ll see in your utility bills in the final cost analysis.
Not Just Bills, Smaller Bills
While there’s no avoiding utility bills, there are definitely ways to reduce them. Follow the tips above and see how much you save. In reality, the best way to actually start piling up the money is by spending less and saving more today.