Utility bills can often take a significant chunk out of our monthly budget. But with some simple adjustments and mindful habits, we can put money back in our pockets. These intentional practices require some effort upfront, but the amount of money that can be saved on utilities is significant.
In this article, we will explore four effective ways to do just that. Primarily what we will focus on are mindful daily practices and structural aspects of your home.
Practice Smart Energy Consumption to Save on Electric Utility Bills
In our society where electricity is something we don’t think twice about, it’s easy to forget how much electricity we rely on. By making some small adjustments to our routines, we can still keep life in order while making significant reductions in the electric bill.
Unplug Unused Devices
One practice is to unplug devices that are not in use. Though the device may be off, it still draws trace amounts of electricity when plugged in. This isn’t too much of a big deal if it’s just one device.
But think about all the things we have in our house. Washer, dryer, fridge, toaster, air fryer, microwave, TV, computer, etc. All these things add up over time.
For what you don’t use that frequently, consider unplugging it until you’re ready to use. We do this in my household for items like our toaster and blender since they are not used every day. Not only do we save on our electric utility bill, we also have more counter space too.
Make Temperature Changes
Another good practice is to watch the thermostat. I know that we all have our ideal temperature ranges that we’re comfortable with. Depending on the season, keeping that temperature in the “optimal” place can be quite costly, though.
Especially here in the South, we get quite hot in summers. Keeping the temperature at 62 may seem like a great way to beat the heat (and it sure can be). But what’s the price to pay for that few extra degrees of cool?
Even bumping that to 68 can lead to significant savings. If you can do it, going into the low to mid-70s saves even more.
While I’m a big advocate for bumping that inside temperature up a bit during the summer, I don’t go as far as EnergyStar does in recommending that we keep our houses between 78 and 85 degrees. Some things are just too far!
Have Your Utility Company Do a Home Efficiency Checkup
Contrary to what many people think, utility companies don’t want us to rack up our bills. If we run everything all the time, that’s unnecessary strain on the electrical grid. This in turn can lead to blackouts if the grid becomes overloaded. (Californians, you know what I’m talking about).
Some utility companies offer an audit of your home’s energy efficiency to see if there are ways to reduce your bill. For example, Middle Tennessee Electric offers a free Home Energy Checkup service to look for ways to save money on utilities in your home.
The inspector will look at various aspects of your home and see where there are fixable issues costing you on your bill. The inspection will provide information about attic insulation, duct work, weatherization, and air conditioning/heating units.
Someone I know took advantage of this service and the inspector found significant gaps in the home’s windows. By properly sealing with some caulk, he has been able to save nearly $40 a month on his bill without any other significant changes.
Be sure to check with your electric provider to see if it has a comparable service available. Who knows what they may find that can save you lots of money on your utilities.
Be Smart with Water Consumption to Save on Water Utility Bills
Indoor plumbing is probably one of the biggest reasons why fewer people die of disease now than in the past. I can’t imagine living in a world without it!
That said, the utility has its cost, and we should be mindful of its use. Not just for our wallets, but for the sake of our planet too.
Saving on water usage is a bit trickier than saving on electricity, in my opinion. That said, there are a few things we can do to tighten things up and keep unnecessary water bill costs at bay.
Fix Leaks Promptly
That drip, drip, drip from the faucet isn’t just a water leak. It’s also a financial one. Think of each drip as money pouring out of your wallet.
Get that thing taken care of! It may be a simple tightening of a washer, replacing an aerator, or replacing a pipe that’s corroded. The upfront cost will be recuperated long-term by eliminating that hole in your budget.
Practice Daily Water Efficient Habits
When washing dishes, it’s easy to just let the water run and rinse the dishes in between scrubs. But by turning it off while you scrub, that’s a lot of water that is not going to waste.
The same can apply to brushing your teeth too. That means money back in your pocket instead of down the drain.
Taking shorter showers will also help things. I know that the morning/evening shower is a part of the routine of our lives. Perhaps you do your karaoke or philosophizing while showering too. I get it!
But taking a bit of time off that shower will save money in the long-run. Especially since with hot showers, we’re using both the water and the electricity.
Collect Rainwater to Reduce Water Usage for Lawn & Garden
Depending on state and local law, you may be able to collect rainwater and use it for watering your garden or lawn. Instead of using the hose and running that water bill up even higher, you can hold onto excess rainwater and use that for when your greens need watering.
Be sure to check on state and local laws though before starting this. Some jurisdictions have certain restrictions on collecting rainwater. Some jurisdictions prohibit it outright, so do your due diligence on this.
Maximize the Use of Natural Light Whenever Possible
Let that sunshine in! Natural light is good not just for our minds and bodies, but also for our wallets.
By having your house be lit by the sun as much as possible, you can reduce how much your interior lights are on. This is especially so during the summer when the days are much longer.
There also is the benefit of having a slight greenhouse effect in winter. For us in the South, it doesn’t get as cold as it does up North. But it still can get chilly.
To minimize using the heater, let the sun in and allow its rays to provide some additional warmth. It won’t fully substitute for your heater, especially not back in December 2022.
But even a bit of sunshine in the house can take some pressure off the heater and pressure off your wallet.
Final Thoughts on How to Save Money on Utilities
Utilities are the second order of priority in your household budget—the Four Walls. Having to budget for these variable expenses can be an annoyance. And that’s especially so if you have oil or gas as one of your utilities, as prices for petroleum products have greatly increased these past few years.
But, in my opinion, I would rather have this type of system because each of us has a vested interest in being conscientious with our energy and water usage. With that type of setup, we’re far less likely to have a Tragedy of the Commons situation with our energy and water.
To save money takes effort. But that’s a part of the tradeoff. If we want to push our bills down, usage also has to go down. Fortunately, we can make a few adjustments to our lifestyles and have significant money savings on our utility bills.
What are some ways you’ve found are effective to save on utility costs? Drop them down in the comments below!