We all know that utility costs can fluctuate depending on how much we use them. Even so, it can be a bit of a shock when we get a really high electricity or water bill. It makes us more mindful of how much power or water we use throughout the day in order to bring that bill down. While utility costs are a part of life, there are simple things you can do to keep your utility bills in a reasonable range. Here are 10 ways you can lower your utility bills.
Use Natural Light
If your home has lots of windows and gets a lot of sunlight during the day – don’t turn on lamps or overhead lights until you absolutely need to do so! You can do lots of your normal, every day activities without flipping on a switch! Open the front door or raise the blinds to let in more light during the day. The sunlight can also help to warm up rooms in the winter without having to turn up the heat.
Close the Doors
Closing off rooms in your home that are rarely used, like extra bedrooms, or the guest bathroom, will save you on electricity because you won’t be heating and cooling those rooms as much as the rest of the house. You might also invest in some of those guards to go across the bottoms of any outside entrances that will block drafts.
Take Fewer Hot Showers
We all love a long hot shower at the end of the day. However, if you are trying to reduce your utility bills, you may want to take shorter showers (5-10 minutes) most days, and take a long one just a couple of times a week. Also, you can turn down the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees, it will prevent little ones from getting scalded, but also will lower your power bill, since the water heater won’t have to work as hard.
Use a Clothesline
Hanging your clothes and linens out to dry in the warmer months will definitely help reduce your electricity bill. I love the smell of linens fresh from the clothesline. They just smell like sunshine. Even if you just dry the larger items like towels and sheets on a clothesline, you will find that it does help to keep the cost lower. If you use cloth diapers, you can also hang them outside to dry. Bonus – the sun will help fade stains away!
Open the Windows
In our house, we love to leave the windows raised in the spring and fall. It lets fresh air in, and we don’t have to run the air conditioner. We typically don’t turn on the AC unless the temps get to around 80 degrees. We close the windows at night most of the time, but occasionally will leave one or two open if the evening temperature is mild. It is nice to have that cool breeze blowing through the house! If you live in a climate where you can do this all year, you will see major savings on your electricity bill!
If You’re Not Using It, Turn It Off!
Turning off, and even unplugging, items that are not in use is a great way to lower your energy bills. When you leave a room, turn off the light. If you’re going to be gone for several days, unplug things like lamps, televisions, and computers. If you have charged your cell phone, unplug it when it is completely charged. Leaving these items on or plugged in will just pull extra power, and in turn cost you money!
Get a Programmable Thermostat
If you have central heating and air, you may want to invest in a programmable thermostat. This will allow you to set the times when you want it to cut on and the times when you want it to stay off. For example, in the winter you might program it to stay at a cooler temp during the day while everyone is at school and work, but for the heat to turn on about an hour before you start arriving home. There’s no reason you should heat or cool the house if no one is home, it’s wasting money. Along this same line, you might find that you can actually stand a cooler temperature in the house during the winter – just add an extra quilt to the bed, and wear layers. In the summer, try to raise the temperature of the AC even a couple of degrees – for example – try setting it at 74 degrees instead of 72 – and see the savings in your next bill!
Be Smart About Using Your Stove
If you cook on the stove top, make sure to pick the right size burner for the job. Don’t use a huge burner for a small pan. It’s going to waste power, and your food isn’t going to get done any faster. Also, if you’re going to cook a small amount of something like just a few chicken nuggets, use a toaster oven instead. It will use less energy and still get the job done.
Skip the Dishwasher
I know many families – mine included – rely on their dishwasher to get those plates and cups and silverware clean every day. With a family of 5, dishes can pile up quickly, so I am sure thankful for my electric dishwasher. However, if you only have a few dishes, it is quicker and uses less energy to wash them by hand. Save the dishwasher for occasions when you have a lot of family over or cook a huge dinner. Otherwise, let you hands do the washing.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Switching to the newer, energy efficient light bulbs can reduce your electricity costs, too. It may take some getting used to, as they don’t seem to put out as much bright light as their older counterparts. You will get used to the difference, and your wallet will breathe a little easier after you make the switch. Try them out first in all of your overhead lights. If you find that it works for you, try switching all of your lights over to the new bulbs.
You can probably think of a dozen more ways to lower your energy bills but these are just a start. Try implementing just one of two of them over the next couple of months and see if it makes a difference in your overall costs!