Housing costs can easily become the biggest expense in your budget. And with good reason. From your mortgage or rent payment to utilities and beyond, your home is the hub of your life. It might seem like those expenses are set in stone, but the truth is that there are several simple ways that you can lower your utility bill and find some additional savings.
#1: Look for Leaky Areas
One of the easiest ways to lower your utility bill is to identify the leaky areas – those spots where you’re either losing heat (during the cold months) or letting heat in (during the warm months). This is especially common in older homes, like ours, but a few adjustments can make a big difference.
- Add weather stripping where it’s needed
- Place a towel at the base of each door
- Close window curtains at night (when it’s cold) and during the day (when it’s warm)
- Consider added insulation for outside walls or attic spaces
…and fill any other area that might create a leak.
In our home, we actually have an open attic space that we don’t access very often. The door to that space leaks a lot of air into our upstairs hallway, so when it’s really cold outside, we tack a blanket around that area to keep the cold air out. There’s a noticeable change in temperature just by making that small adjustment.
#2: Turn Off and Unplug Unused Items
Another easy way to lower your utility bill is to turn off and/or unplug unused items. As you walk through your home with a critical, money-saving mindset, you might be surprised to see how many things you leave plugged in while they aren’t in use:
- Coffee Pot
- DVD and Blu-Ray Players
- Curling Iron
- Hair Dryer
- Electric Toothbrush
…and the list could go on and on.
You might also consider turning off the pilot light on your gas fireplace or furnace during the summer time for some additional savings.
Note: I know that turning off unused lights can be a helpful way to conserve energy. Personally, I don’t want to live my life in the dark which is why I like to look for other areas we can cut back prior to eliminating the lights. If you are really struggling to make that utility payment, then turning off the lights might be a good option for you.
#3: Use Less Hot Water
I love hot showers – the hotter the better, in fact. When it comes to lowering the utility bill, though, using less hot water might just be the ticket to saving money.
Consider the following:
- Take shorter or less frequent showers
- Lower the water heater temperature (even 10°F can make a huge difference)
- Wash clothes in cold water
- Use a shorter dishwasher cycle
Just take a few minutes to think about all of the ways that you use hot water in your home and how you might be able to minimize that use.
Bonus: if you take shorter showers, you’ll also use less electricity running your bathroom fan. That’s a win-win situation. (Just don’t forget to turn the fan off when it’s not needed!)
#4: Check Your Appliances
Are your appliances working properly? Is your clothes dryer is taking longer to get things done? Is the dishwasher actually producing clean dishes? Those seemingly little things could be racking up more in utility bills than you think.
A few months ago our clothes dryer slowly stopped drying our clothes. It took us awhile to notice what was happening but when a small load of clothing takes multiple hours to dry, then it’s obvious something isn’t right. It took a $20 part to fix it and not only do we have dry clothes again, but our electricity bill dropped significantly once the fix was made.
So, take the time to make sure all of your appliances are working correctly. If not, it might be time to replace a part OR consider saving for a new one.
#5: Update Your Thermostats
If you’re looking for ways to save money, you might not want to spend money to do so, but if you live in an old home, updating your thermostats can be a great way to lower your utility bill.
Like anything else, thermostats can become ineffective with age. And, if your thermostat isn’t working properly, then you’re likely spending more money than you need to on utilities.
We live in a 60+ year old home. This past fall, in an effort to increase the efficiency of our furnace, Justin replaced our old thermostats (original to the home) with smart thermostats. The installation process was easy and the new thermostats allow us to adjust the temperature in our home based on certain criteria (sleeping, waking, empty home, etc).
The best part? Within three months, we noticed our heating bill had decreased by over half. A significant savings!
Additionally, we were able to apply for a rebate through our energy company that helped us recoup almost half of the thermostat costs.
If you can afford to replace your older thermostats, you’ll find the long-term savings well worth it. Of course, if it’s not in the budget, then make a plan to do so in the future when you’ve saved up enough cash to make it happen.
Note: Whatever you do, DON’T increase your debt to lower your utility bill. Trust me, it’ll only make it harder to achieve your financial goals in the long-run.
How Will You Lower Your Utility Bill This Year?
No matter how much it might hurt to watch the electricity, gas, or water bill payment leave your account each month, those utilities are necessary. But, by using these simple ways to lower your utility bill, you’ll create more space to achieve those long-term financial goals.
So, take the time to identify what adjustments need to be made and then do so. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll see results.
Cheering you on!