10 Ways to Save on Utilities


1.     Heating and Cooling.  “According to the EPA, a properly installed Energy Star air-conditioning unit can reduce your cooling costs by up to 20 percent.”[1]  Consider saving to replace units more than ten years old.  In climates where winter temperatures drop below freezing, consider choosing gas heat or wood-burning furnaces over electric heat pumps. 

2.   Use programmable thermostats to avoid heating and cooling your home when you are not there to enjoy it. 

3.     Consider adding insulation and/or replacement windows to realize savings on utilities and increase the comfort level in your home.

4.  Dress in layers in winter to keep your thermostat a couple of degrees lower.  Use ceiling fans in the main areas of the home to keep your thermostat a couple of degrees higher in summer. 

5.      Energy Audit.  Contact your local power company for a low-cost energy audit.  They will provide you with a detailed report of steps to make your home more energy-efficient.  Many times, the energy company will refund the cost of the study when you turn in receipts for implementing some of their suggestions.  Evaluate how long it will take to recoup the cost of each recommendation with the amount it will lower your utility bills to decide which to tackle first.

6.     Water.  Be aware of any warning signs for water leaks or running toilets and repair them promptly.  Limit your usage of hot water, particularly.  Heating the water seems to affect utility costs more than the water itself in our area.

7.     Appliances.  Replace appliances with Energy Star models when they begin to need frequent repairs.  Consider a high-efficiency water heater and washer and dryer as a higher priority since water heaters and clothes dryers are energy hogs. 

8.     Phone Service.  Carefully review your phone bills for both landlines and cell phones to see what services you are paying for and which ones you could live without.  Call the company to see if they have other service plans available that would save you money.  Check out the competition and see if your existing provider will match any specials to keep your business.

9.     Internet.  Check out internet service providers in your area to see if any new ones have come on the scene since you subscribed.  Review your bill and call the company to see if you are in the most economical plan for your family’s usage.

10.Cable TV.  Look at the amount you spend on cable or satellite in a year’s time.  Are you using it enough to warrant its cost?  Shop around and contact the company to see if you could get by with a lesser plan or if your current company would be willing to price-match promotional offers from other companies.  Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are viable options for as little as $7.99/month.

      The US Department of Energy reports consumers spend as much as 6 to 12 percent of gross income on utilities.  For families making $50,000 per year, that is $3,000 to $6,000 annually.[i]  That amount of money justifies a look to see what you can save.  For more money-saving ideas, I highly recommend Steve and Annette Economides’ book, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money.

[1] [1] Economides, Steve and Annette, America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money, 2007, p. 106.

Sources: US Department of Energy
                  America’s Cheapest Family

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