Unless you go completely off grid, there isn’t a way to not pay utility bills. Typically, homeowners pay monthly bills for their electricity usage—plus natural gas, water, garbage/sewer/recycling, cable television, and internet access.
Fortunately, though, there are plenty of practical ways to help save money on home utilities—and, when you combine several of these tips together, it can add up to some pretty serious savings!
We’ll share nine ways that you may be able to save money, with some tactics being straightforward, and others perhaps more challenging to implement. Some (like buying energy-efficient appliances) require an upfront investment, while others won’t need anything other than a commitment to a new habit.
The good news is that you can pick and choose which money-saving hacks fit your lifestyle and will hopefully help cut down on your energy costs. You can decide to add hacks to your lifestyle one by one, or take the plunge on several all at once.
And, no matter which approach you might take, once you discover how to save money on utilities, you may become even more motivated to try additional ways to help cut expenses.
According to utility provider Direct Energy , it may be possible to save $100 to $200 each year by unplugging your appliances and devices when they’re not in use—and as a bonus, when you unplug, you’re protecting them from damage that could occur during power surges.
If you’re wondering how much electricity is being consumed in your house by appliances that are plugged in but not in use, you can use a handheld electricity monitor to make an estimate.
If, let’s say, you can save $200 annually, a Department of Energy spokesperson points out that this can equal one month’s worth of electricity costs in many households.
And if it’s too much of a hassle to unplug something that’s plugged in behind a heavy entertainment center, for example, you can at least unplug the easy ones, like your phone charger and coffee maker.
Light bulbs, that is.
According to Energy.gov , the average household uses about 5% of its energy budget on the lighting used, which means switching to lighting that’s energy efficient is a fast and easy way to help cut down on costs. If, for example, you just replace the five bulbs you use most with ENERGY STAR bulbs, you can save an estimated $45 a year.
Here’s why. Traditional incandescent bulbs needed to use a whole bunch of energy just to create light. In fact, 90% of their energy was really used to give off heat, which is lost energy. Today’s bulbs are much more efficient, plus they come in an array of light levels and colors.
Washing Clothes on Cold
When you wash your clothes on cold, you save significantly on energy usage, while also being kinder to your clothes. ColdWaterSaves.org shares that 90% of the energy used while washing clothes goes towards heating the water. To put a dollar figure on this, the site shares these estimates:
Hot/warm wash/rinse settings:
• Costs 68 cents per load
• Costs $265 per year
Warm/warm wash/rinse settings:
• Costs 53 cents per load
• Costs $206 per year
Hot/cold wash/rinse settings:
• Costs 42 cents per load
• Costs $165 per year
Warm/cold wash/rinse settings:
• Costs 29 cents per load
• Costs $112 per year
Cold/cold wash/rinse settings:
• Costs 4 cents per load
• Costs $16 per year
Make sure your loads are full to save even more money. And, guess what? Today’s detergent technology uses enzymes that actually work more effectively in cold water.
Dialing Down Your Hot Water Heater
Here’s an especially easy hack—heck to see where your hot water heater’s thermostat is set. If it’s above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, consider lowering it! For every ten degrees that you dial it down , you could save 3% to 5% on your energy bills. Plus, you’ll make it less likely that someone in your family gets burned by hot water.
Drying Clothes More Efficiently
• Right-size your loads. Too full, and it takes too long for your clothes to dry. Too small? You’ll be spending too much energy per item as you dry them.
• Air dry on a rack whenever you can.
• Switch loads while the dryer is still warm so you can use the heat from a previous load.
• Add wool or rubber dryer balls to cut down drying time.
• Regularly clean your dryer’s lint filter.
• Use the lower heat settings to use less energy.
• Separate your towels and heavier cottons from lighter weight items.
• If your dryer has a cool-down cycle, use it!
• If your dryer has a moisture sensor option, the advice is the same: Use it!
• Explore using a gas dryer to see if this is more cost effective.
Saving on Heating and Cooling Costs
Focusing on your thermostat can be key to energy savings, although you’ll probably want to find other ways to feel warm enough or cool enough if thermostat changes make you feel less than comfortable.
You might be able to save about 1% of your energy costs for each degree that you adjust for an eight-hour period, and the Department of Energy recommends that you adjust your thermostat by seven to ten degrees (up in summer, down in winter) for an eight-hour period each day to annualize savings of as much as 10%.
For example , the Department of Energy recommendation is to keep your thermostat at 68 degrees when you’re up and about in winter, and at 58 when you’re away from home or sleeping. When the season is warm, their recommendation is to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees when you’re home, and at 85 when you’re not. If you do this, you can save an average of $83 annually.
To help maximize savings, keeping your HVAC system in prime condition, including having it serviced at least twice a year, changing filters as needed, and more can really add up. It can also make sense to upgrade to a smart thermostat—one you can sync up with your mobile devices to set heating and cooling settings and schedules.
Cutting the Cable Cord
If you enjoy watching television but are tired of paying pricey cable bills, considering joining the 33 million Americans who have canceled their traditional television services. On average, people who pay for television services paid $203 a month in 2018. But, people who cut the cord are paying an average of only $118 a month, saving an average of $85 monthly.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Although this strategy means you need to spend money up front, ENERGY STAR®-certified appliances can save significant dollars in the long run. In general, a home appliance lasts for 10 to 20 years, on average, with ENERGY STAR-designated ones using 10% to 50% less energy than a counterpart that isn’t energy efficient. And, if you assume that electricity rates will continue to increase, then this could help to save you even more money.
Looking specifically at dryers, ones with an ENERGY STAR rating will typically use 20% less electricity than a traditional model, which could save you approximately $210, overall, in energy costs. Energy-efficient washers, meanwhile, typically use 40% to 50% less energy and use 55% less water than conventional models. This switch can save you up to $50 a year on utility and water bills.
Today’s energy efficient refrigerators generally use 40% less energy than those from 2001, and dishwashers with ENERGY STAR designations are around 12% more efficient than models that don’t have this certification.
Plus, you can sometimes get federal, state, or local rebates when you purchase energy-efficient appliances, so it might be wise to research this before you buy.
If you really want to invest in your energy efficiency, you could also consider solar panels to create clean electricity. You can potentially receive a federal tax credit that’s been extended through 2019. If you do your research, this may make it worth your while! Google’s Project Sunroof can help you to estimate your savings.
No matter the strategy you choose, getting your savings in place is a great first step. If you need a little help, consider SoFi Money®—it can be a great cash management account for building up your savings.
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