Your home’s utility costs will rarely, if ever, go down on their own. Installing solar panels or a geothermal system is one way to lower your utility bill, but the upfront costs are enormous. If that’s not an option, there are other alternatives.
Here are a few ways to save money on utilities.
Make your windows more energy efficient: Windows are often the largest factor in a home’s energy loss or heat gain. In the summer, sunlight can heat up your home if your blinds or curtains are open during the day. Closing them will help, but there are other things you can do, too. Consider putting heat control film on your windows to reduce heat, glare, and ultraviolet rays from coming into your home. You can also purchase energy-efficient blinds, which stops most heat from entering your home in the summer and keeps that heat inside your home during the winter. You can also buy curtains with a thermal lining or shutters.
If you live in a house, new windows can make a huge difference. If that’s out of your price range, seal any gaps around windows and doors with weatherstripping.
Install a programmable thermostat: You won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving on the air conditioning all day while you’re at work with a programmable thermostat. You can set the temperature higher in the summer or lower in the winter when you’re not at home. You can also purchase a smart thermostat, which will give you additional capabilities to control and track your usage. While smart thermostats cost more than traditional ones, you may be able to get one for free or at a discount from your local utility.
Use a smart power bar: More and more electronic devices are in homes today. But having those devices plugged in all the time can use electricity even when they’re in standby mode. Standby power consumption can account for up to 10% of a household’s electricity bill. A smart power bar will usually have three types of outlets: The always-on outlets are for devices that need continuous power (such as a PVR), the secondary outlets are for devices that can be turned off (such as a router, printer, home theatre system, or video game console), and the control outlet (for a control device, such as a TV or computer) that detects when the device is turned off and automatically cuts power to the secondary outlets. There are even smart power bars with motion sensors or timers that can further reduce your electricity use.
Curb your water usage: Your bathroom can account for as much as half of your home’s indoor water usage. Installing low-flush or dual-flush toilets, as well as low-flow showerheads and faucets, can help reduce the amount of water you use. Also, don’t keep the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. And only run the washing machine or dishwasher when they’re full.
For those with a house and a yard, choose plants that don’t need a lot of water. Also, install a rain barrel to get free water for your garden. And keep in mind that your lawn needs only one inch of water just once a week.
Quick tips: There are also a number of other ways to save money: Hand wash your dishes, replace your air or furnace filters every three months, use your dishwasher or do your laundry during off-peak hours, air-dry your clothes if you own a home, use a fan instead of air conditioning, buy energy-efficient appliances (new refrigerators use 40% less energy than those made 10 years ago, for example), use LED lights if you’re not already using them, and turn off the lights when you leave a room.
The bottom line
You’ll always have to pay a utility bill regularly. By taking a few steps to reduce your electricity and water usage, you’ll save money and also reduce your carbon footprint.