Tuesday, August 6, 2013

20 Ways to Reduce Your Utility Bill

I have had a huge response to my 20 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half post!  It has over 3,000 pins on Pinterest so far.  I'm hoping it's helped a lot of people reduce their grocery bill!


So, I thought I'd follow up with a similar post - 10 ways to reduce your utility bills.  I've learned a few tips and tricks over the years that have helped me, and I hope they help you too!

20 Ways to Reduce Your Utility Bills...tips on how to cut your utility bill budget! http://www.lambertslately.com/2013/08/10-ways-to-reduce-your-utility-bill.html


1.  Use the best power bill option for your family.


Did you know that a lot of power companies have more than just the standard "x amount for each kilowatt hour" plan?  Alabama Power, for example, used to offer what is called a "Time of Use" plan - it is much cheaper for us to use power at night and on the weekends than during their "peak hours" of 12-7 each weekday.  They retired this a few years ago, but we're grandfathered in, and a lot of other power companies still offer this plan!  Definitely something to check into if you can control when you use your power - it saves us a good deal each month to run laundry, cook, etc. in those off-peak hours.

2.  Use your blinds to save!


Especially in the summer, you can save a significant amount off of your power bill by closing your blinds...that extra heat from sunlight works against your air conditioner!  Alternatively, open your blinds in the winter to allow the sunlight to heat your home.


3.  Use ceiling fans.


I'm sure you've heard the old "counter-clockwise in summer and clockwise in winter" for your ceiling fans...it really does save!  This pushes the air down in the summer and heat down in the winter to circulate air more efficiently.  We usually keep our air conditioner at 75 in the summer and 69 in the winter...but using the ceiling fans, it keeps it comfortable!


4.  Call your utility company and ask for discounts.


This works very well for a lot of companies...simply call and ask if there is any way you can save on your bill.  You'd be surprised how helpful they can be in finding the best plan, or even giving you a flat-out discount!


5.  Check to see if your business/job provides discounts.


We've found this especially helpful for cell phone plans...both my teaching job and Noah's company provide a discount through AT&T just for being an employee.  This is true for a lot of different businesses - call your HR department and find out what benefits you have with utility providers!


6.  Close vents and doors in rooms you don't use.


For years, we very rarely used our back two bedrooms...so we closed the vents and doors in those rooms.  Instantly there was a few hundred square feet knocked off the amount we had to cool/heat.
**I've heard conflicting comments on this from some of y'all...read the comments for more info!***


7.  Eliminate "Vampire Power."


As much as possible, leave things unplugged...they can still draw power even when they are turned off.  This is especially true for computers, TV, and other big electronics.  Power strips are great for this - plug your electronics in and you can turn them on/off with one click!


8.  Invest in a toaster oven.


I'm telling you, this is one of my favorite ways to save.  Especially since I just cook for the 3 of us, I can usually pop a casserole/dish in the toaster oven to cook instead of using the big oven.  There's no need to warm up the whole oven when you only need to cook one thing.


9.  Use energy efficient items and bulbs.


It can seem like a big investment, but buying energy efficient appliances usually pays off the difference in a year or two.  Energy efficient bulbs usually pay off in a couple of months - plus they last much longer than traditional bulbs!


10.  Repair leaks.


Faucet leaks don't appear to be huge, but can make a big difference in your water bill.  So can running toilets and outside faucet problems.

In addition, unsealed windows and doors make a huge difference in your power bill!


11. Install a programmable thermostat.


I had no idea how inexpensive these can be until we had to look into replacing ours...you can get one for as little as $20!  These can be programmed to respond to your inside temperature to keep your home comfortable and save the most money.  Some can be programmed from your smart phone even, so not only do they save money, but they are so convenient.


12. Cook in bulk.


Ever heard the saying "Need it twice, cook it once?" Not only is it convenient to cook in bulk, but it uses just a little bit extra power to go on and cook enough for a few days of meals.  See my freezer meal cooking post for a few ideas on this!


13.  Wash in bulk.


This goes with the last one - but only use a dishwasher when it is full and only wash full loads of laundry.  Those machines use the same amount of power whether it is half full or full, so there's no point in only getting half the productivity for the full price!  (But, don't over-fill...this can actually cut down on the productivity of these appliances.)


14.  Use cold water.


When washing clothes or dishes, use cold water as much as possible.  Of course hot water is needed to sanitize sometimes...I use hot water in the dishwasher and when I know a load of laundry needs sanitation.  But for a simple load of laundry or just washing out a cup, I typically use cold water!


15.  Check your appliance temperatures.


Keep the temperature on your water heater as low as possible to get the hot water you need...a lot of times you'll find it doesn't need to be turned up that high.  Same goes for your refrigerator (the opposite way though, of course)...keep it as high as possible for your food to stay as cold as you need.


16. Turn your oven off.


I usually turn my oven off 5-10 minutes before a meal is done cooking...the leftover heat will continue to cook your food! (And once your meal is done cooking, leave the door open if safe in the winter to help warm your home!)


17. Change your air filter.

There's no need to make your air conditioner/heater work harder than it has to.  Change your air filters often!
18.  Use your shower efficiently.


Baths use much more water than showers - use the shower as much as possible.  Also consider using a low-flow shower head...you won't miss anything, and they help use much less water!
19.  Use wi-fi when possible.

If you don't have an unlimited data plan on your phone, turn on the wi-fi feature and use as much as possible.  You'd be surprised how often you're in an area that provides wi-fi so you don't have to use that precious (i.e. expensive) data.


20.  Don't cook or cool at extreme temperatures.

Before putting a hot meal back in the fridge, allow it to cool first...no need in making your fridge work overtime to cool it!  It shouldn't stay out for very long after it is cool for safety reasons, but no need to put it in the fridge hot.  The same goes for cooking food - don't try to cook a frozen meal before defrosting it (if safe).

Check out a few of my other posts about saving money!

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