When you think about your basic living expenses, your mortgage or rent may be top of mind, but utilities are a considerable component for most people. Doling out money for electricity, water, maybe natural gas, garbage/sewer/recycling, cable television, and internet access can really add up. The average American household can spend anywhere from $300 to $450 a month or more on utilities.
Here, you can learn smart ways to save money on your utility bills. Some are simple ways to cut costs by tweaking your daily habits, and others may require investment, such as buying an energy-efficient appliance that will cost less over the coming years.
Read on to see which money-saving tips work best for you.
5 Ways to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill
The average electric bill in the US is currently $142.73 per month, with an average cost of 16.11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Here’s advice on saving money on electricity.
It may be possible to save $100 or more each year by unplugging your appliances and devices when they’re not in use. Bonus: When you unplug, you’re also protecting them from damage that could occur during power surges.
What’s known as standby power can add up to 5% to 10% of your monthly electricity bill, according to the US Department of Energy. Electronics can draw power when not in use: Your laptop’s sleep mode, for instance, is different from being turned off, and it can still use energy.
Your home entertainment system can use electricity to keep some indicator lights on, including the ones, ironically enough, that tell you the system is off. And if you are the type who has one or two mobile phone chargers always plugged in, ready to revive your low-battery phone, know that those too are raising your bill.
Granted, it may be too much of a hassle to unplug your washer/dryer when not in use, but you work on not letting your phone charger, coffee maker, and computer eat up electricity when not in use.
2. Replace Old Appliances
Is your dishwasher, refrigerator, or clothes dryer reaching the end of its lifespan? Do yourself and your budget a favor and opt for an energy-efficient model.
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 can save you up to $450 a year on your utility bills, according to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Plus, you can sometimes get federal, state, or local rebates (like those made available by the Inflation Reduction Act) when you purchase energy-efficient appliances, so it might be wise to research this before you buy. You could wind up with even lower costs this way.
3. Wash Clothes in Cold Water
When you wash your clothes in cold water, 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 calculates that the average household could save $200 per year by switching from washing laundry in warm or hot water to using cold instead. And guess what? Today’s detergent technology uses enzymes that actually work more effectively in cold water.
Also make sure your loads are full to save even more money; you’ll do your laundry less frequently that way.
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4. Dial 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.
5. Dry Clothes More Efficiently
According to Energy.gov, in a standard household, the appliance that uses the most energy is the dryer. To calculate your costs, try the calculator they provide, and follow the following tips. They’re ideas for how to save on utilities.
• 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 when you can.
• 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.
• If your dryer has a cool-down cycle, use it.
• If your dryer has a moisture sensor option, use that as well.
2 Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill
The national median water bill is about $30 or $35 a month, though some people may pay two or three times that amount. Follow this advice to take your costs down a notch.
1. Invest in Efficient Appliances
Is it time for a new washer? If so, note that energy-efficient washers typically use 40% to 50% less energy and use 55% less water than conventional models. This switch can save you up to $60 a year on utility and water bills.
2. Shower Smarter
By going with a lower-flow showerhead, you can significantly reduce water usage, to the tune of $70 a year. Want to save even more? Become a fan of the five-minute shower, and quit sending money (quite literally) down the drain.
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3 Ways to Save Money on Your Gas Bill
The average gas bill in the US is about $63 but could be even lower if you follow these tips.
1. Save on Heating and Cooling Costs
By resetting your thermostat, you may be able to save a significant amount.
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%.
If you have a smart thermostat, you could set it to be higher or lower when you’re out at work. You might also reset it overnight, when you’re sleeping.
For example, the Department of Energy recommends keeping 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 or more annually.
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2. Go Solar
If you really want to invest in your energy efficiency, you could also consider solar panels to create clean electricity and minimize your gas usage. You can potentially receive tax credits for going green this way. Living sustainably can really pay off in multiple ways!
Yes, installing solar panels requires a big investment; one that will take years to amortize. But by starting on the path to passive energy, you’ll be on your way to saving for decades to come.
3. Seal up Your Home
Ready for another idea for how to save on utilities? In cold weather, warm air can escape through drafty windows and doors; in hot weather, the cool air your air conditioning is pumping out can vanish the same way. By weather sealing your home, you can save up to 10% of your energy bill. That means weather stripping and adding insulation (important ways to help maintain your home’s value) can really pay off.
Saving with SoFi
No matter the strategy you choose, stashing your money in a bank with minimal fees and a solid interest rate is an important move.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
What’s a good way to save on electricity costs?
One good way to save on electricity costs is to unplug electronics and other devices (your laptop, phone chargers, coffee maker) when not in use. Keeping them plugged in costs money.
What runs up your electrical bill the most?
Heating and cooling are the single biggest portion of your energy bill, accounting for up to 40% of your costs.
How can I save on my gas bill?
Calibrating your thermostat can be a big money saver, as can weather sealing your home.
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