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As you look over your budget, one category where it’s easy to feel stuck is with your utility bills. These come up every month and you can’t just stop taking showers, using Internet to work from home, or turning on your heat or A/C all year. But there are ways to save, some of which you probably haven’t considered.
This week, I’m going to spend some time each day talking about how to cut your utility bills in different areas. Even if you can’t use every idea, there are bound to be at least a few things you can do to save on your utilities each month. And over the course of the year, it adds up!
How to Cut Your Utility Bills | Part One: General Tips + Water, Trash, Electricity
Today I’m going to cover some general tips to cut your utility bills as well as some specific tips on water, trash, and electricity. In coming posts, I’ll cover how to save on internet, phone and cable as well as heating and cooling costs
There isn’t much in this category to do, but think about all the places in your house where you use water. Checking for leaks is one of the first things to check. An easy way to check for leaks in the toilet is to grab an Easter egg dye kit and take a tablet out of it and put it in the tank. See if after a few minutes the bowl water is still clear or if it’s not a nice Easter-y color.
You can’t stop using water altogether, but you can use less water. Install low flow water fixtures, take showers instead of baths, and turn older toilets into low-flush toilets. To do this, add a brick to the tank to reduce the amount of water in the tank and thereby reduce water used per flush. If you don’t have a brick, take a plastic jug and fill it with water and place in the tank.
If you have a yard or garden to water, think about getting a rain barrel to collect water for your garden. You can direct the free water from the rain to the parts of your yard that need it. You could also install a drip irrigation system, which targets the water right to your plants and makes sure you don’t over-water your plants (which is good for the plants as well as for your water bill).
Filling up a swimming pool? Contact your local water company and tell them how many gallons you’ll be using. Some companies will give you a discount!
In some areas, trash pickup is an additional fee and not part of your taxes. If trash pickup is a service you pay for on your own, please consider dropping this, too. For years, we ran twice a week by the “dump” (which was just a trash location in our county). It just takes you working it into your routine, but this saved us over $200 a year to just take it ourselves.
I’ll cover heating and cooling in another post, but there are other ways to save on electricity as well.
Lighting in your home is one category. Turn off the lights when you’re not in the room, even if it means installing motion detectors to help the lights stay off! You should also use energy efficient LED lightbulbs. You can get a few new lightbulbs every month and slowly replace all the old ones in your home.
Switching to LED bulbs not only saves when the light is running, but it also greatly reduces the heat created by the light. This is a double savings in the summer months.
The laundry room is another place to save on electricity.
- Wash your clothes in cold water. Most detergents work better in cold water and your clothes will get just as clean.
- Keep your dryer clean. Make sure to clean out the vent regularly and check all the hoses and tubes for lint, as well as the lint trap. When these areas are blocked, your dryer has to work harder, using more electricity (it’s also a fire hazard). You can also avoid the dryer altogether and use a clothesline outside to dry clothes if the weather permits.
- Put a timer on your hot water heater so it only warms water when you are home and wanting to shower.
Your other appliances can be energy hogs, too. It isn’t going to save you money to replace all your appliances with more energy-efficient ones, but if you end up needing to replace one, try to get one that uses less energy. Also, unplug appliances when you can (such as the TV, etc. when going on vacation).
Several years ago I spent some time on our local NBC news affiliate to talk about how we can all save money on our bills! Monthly bills can feel very overwhelming and also can make you feel very stuck, but there are ways to save on them! If you’re willing to make a few changes, you can really save quite a bit of money.