When drawing up a family budget, utility bills are an ever-present obligation. While mortgage and car payments may take the biggest chunk out of your paycheck, those bills typically stay the same from month to month. So it makes good financial sense to take a hard look at the best ways to reduce the size of the monthly bills that you are able to control, including the cost of home utilities.
With a few sensible lifestyle changes, savvy consumers can find simple ways to reduce the cost of utility services from retail energy providers. Texas residents can beat the heat in the summer and take away the chill in winter without seeing sky-high spikes in utility bills. A smart approach to energy use is all they really need in order to save on electric bills.
Try these fast tips for saving on utilities:
1. Unplug your electronics
Even the smallest electronic device uses energy when it is plugged into a power supply source. Unplug the toaster, the coffeemaker and the microwave when those items aren’t in use. Plug your computer, DVD player and cell-phone charger into a power strip so you can flip the switch when you aren’t using them. Turn off the cable television box when you go to bed in the evening.
2. Insulate your home
Insulation projects can be costly and time-consuming, but some basic weather-proofing options are very economical. With a quick trip to the local hardware store, you can purchase inexpensive weather-stripping to eliminate energy leaks from the cracks around door and windows. Caulking on windows is a cheap way to keep heat or cold from escaping. Installing low-priced door sweeps is another effective way to save energy. Locking windows also can help seal out drafts.
3. Make the best use of older appliances
Many of us can’t afford to buy the latest energy-efficient appliances, but we can save money by properly maintaining older equipment. Furnace filters should be replaced regularly, following the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Heating and cooling vents work more efficiently when they are kept clean. Old-model water heaters can be covered with inexpensive insulating sleeves to help conserve energy.
4. Be smart about water usage
Make sure your dishwasher is full before running it, and allow dishes to dry without using the heat cycle. Install inexpensive faucet aerators and low-flow shower heads to reduce water use. Turn down the temperature on your water heater to no more than 120 degrees. Use shorter wash cycles and lower temperature settings when doing laundry. Fix leaky faucets.
5. Monitor your thermostat
If you don’t want to spend money on a programmable thermostat, it’s easy to change your home’s temperature manually. Adjust the temperature when you are away from home or when you are sleeping, turning it down in the winter and up in the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can save as much as 5 to 15 percent on your winter heating expenses if you turn your thermostat down by 10 to 15 degrees for at least eight hours daily.