Save Money Monday: Easy Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills
In today’s shaky economy, we need to cut corners wherever we can. Some things are easier to do without than others, however, utility bills are something few people can get away from. Having heat, lights, and running water are all things most of us don’t want to live without. But when we use these things without thinking, utility bills start to stack up pretty quickly.
Fortunately, a little mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to keeping those costs under control. For this special March Money Saving Madness installment of Save Money Monday, PennySaver is highlighting some money saving tips to help lower your utility bills.
By now, a lot of people have already made the switch to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), but it is surprising how many people are still filling their sockets with the same type of bulb Thomas Edison first discovered. While the incandescent was certainly a good idea in its day, CFLs are a much better one. While CFLs cost more initially, you’ll see the savings on your electricity bills almost right away because CFL bulbs put out the same amount of light while using a fraction of the energy. They also don’t need to be changed as frequently and often last many years as opposed to the few months you’ll get out of the old fashioned bulbs.
In addition to these savings, there is an added perk because CFLs don’t hold heat the way the other bulbs do. This means they are safer for your family, and won’t overheat your house in the summer months.
Manage Your Heat Settings
For years we’ve heard that wintertime thermostats should be set no higher than 68, and summer settings should rest at around 78. If you’re too cold or too hot grab a sweater or a cool drink of water. But, although it’s a good place to start, managing your heat goes beyond turning down the temperature. Programmable thermostats are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They allow you to set your indoor temperature even lower when you are gone all day or are on vacation. You can set it up to go back to a more comfortable level when it’s closer to the time you get home.
Proper insulation in your home also goes a long way when keeping the outside from invading the inside. Use weather stripping and apply caulk around cracks and crevices where unwanted air tries to get in.
A little work on the outside can help too. Homes that have a lot of shading from trees and shrubs block off excess heat and cold which will help keep bills under control. Painting your roof white not only gives your home character, but homes with a white roof use up to 40% less energy than those with a black roof. That extra coat can also serve as a weather sealant and increase the life of your roof.
Ease up on the Appliances
A lot of people use their appliances more than they really need to. They may heat the oven for smaller dishes that could be just as easily made in a toaster oven or even the microwave. When appliances are used, energy efficient appliances with an endorsement from Energy Star are preferable. Not only do they use less energy and lower your bills, but you may also be able to get a tax credit for making the investment. When appliances aren’t in use, they should be turned off or even unplugged. Electricity will still cost you, even when the appliance is dormant.
Watch Your Water
With water it is easy for people to either use too much, or to make it too hot. There are some who keep their water heaters set as high as 180 degrees, but 120 degrees is a more energy efficient temperature that will still allow you to take effective showers and get your clothes clean in the washing machine. If you head out of town, turn your water temp down even further.
Shower times should also be kept short in most cases. A long shower can be a treat, but it shouldn’t be an every day luxury. Clothes can also be washed in cooler temperatures most of the time and will get just as clean.
Just follow these money saving tips, and it’ll help keep the bite out of those pesky utility bills.