Are you sick and tired of stressing about money all the time? One of the biggest challenges in personal finance is figuring out new ways to spend less money and one of the best ways to accomplish that is to cut down on your regular monthly expenses, such as reduce energy costs. When you do that, the pressure on your budget is relieved.
Even though some of your regular bills might seem small and insignificant on their own, their cumulative effect can be enormous and become a huge drain on your financial resources. And the weirdest part of it all is that we just don’t try to stop that bleeding because they are regular routine bills we get on a monthly basis and it seems like they are all required and we have no options about them. But I am here to say that some people proactively look for ways to cut these routine expenses.
There are ways you can save money without too much difficulty that offer a potential to save big cash over time on those “routine bills” we just get used to each month. One of my pet peeves and biggest money wasters centers around energy usage. Here are some tried and true ways to reduce energy costs that are worth a little effort if you need to release the pressure!
When it comes to saving money on your electricity and gas bill every month, you should really leave no stone unturned. Every little change to help reduce the amount of energy you use keeps more money in your bank account and more for other things you need. How to do it is the challenge.
The fastest way to save money on your utility bill is not using your air conditioner and furnace as much. These two systems in your house add up to hundreds of dollars every month and thousands over a full year. Ease up on the thermostat and start saving each month.
In the winter, we keep our heat at 66 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and bundle up. We live in New Jersey so we are used to freezing temperatures in the winter.
In the summer, we keep our air conditioner use to a minimum. Any time we leave the house, we use our programmable thermostat so that it automatically changes the setting and the energy used is minimal.
In my case, another thing that stands out is my option to have a “monthly budget plan” that my electric and gas company offers. It allows me to pay the same amount every month no matter the usage and after eleven months if I haven’t paid enough or have overpaid my bill, an adjustment is made. I watch it each month and compare the numbers to last year to see where I am.
This year, after getting an adjustment to my final electric and gas bill of 2019 of almost $60 credit, I was expecting that my budget plan might be reduced each month by a few dollars or at least remain the same as it was. I was annoyed when the new budget plan was sent to me saying it was going up by $10 a month for 2020. I called the electric company and reviewed my bill with them and after explaining my position they agreed to keep my budget at its current number. Why?
They are greed driven and I am not stupid!
Well, here are the facts. First, energy prices have fallen around the world over the past several years. Second, the company itself has already bragged about the fact that they are reducing the prices this year on electricity and natural gas to its customers. And third, my usage has declined with careful monitoring. If I hadn’t called, I would have been laying out an extra $120 this year for no good reason.
Of course, weather plays a big role in my usage of heat and air conditioning, but despite that, my goal is to keep the utilities top of mind and under control, and it has worked for us. That’s why being proactive, aggressive, and making the investment into a programmable thermostat is vital!
Other Ways to Reduce Energy Costs
- Line dry your clothes instead of using your dryer whenever possible.
- Maintain your refrigerator so it stays efficient. (Get rid of the old fridge or freezer in your basement or garage if you don’t actually use it.) Check to make sure there is a good seal on your door. Clean the coils on the fridge’s back! Dirty coils can make your fridge run very inefficient, which can cause it to run twice as much to maintain a safe temperature for your food.
- Think about upgrading your appliances as they age and need replacement for more energy efficiency. Think “Energy Star” for all new appliances.
- Switch out all your old light bulbs to LEDs. They will pay for themselves over time, plus they last much longer than your standard light bulb.
- Turn off your electronics when they are not in use. If your computer is always left on your using much more energy than if you put it to sleep. Use power strips to group your electronics and shut off the strips when not in use.
- Change your settings on your gaming consoles and entertainment devices. Many of these larger machines in your house (Xbox, DVR box, TVs) all have “Power Saving Modes”. Check these out; they can save you a ton of money.
- Clean your dryer vent on your clothes dryer annually and monitor the lint trap after every usage. Once a year, check around the drum for lint there. Your dryer will do a better job and use less energy if it is maintained properly.
- Change out the air filter on your furnace every three months. A clean air filter allows your furnace to run at a much more efficient level. They are actually very affordable to buy in bulk so you have backups, but make sure they fit properly when replaced.
- At night time, turn down the heat and grab another blanket.
- Improve the insulation inside your home. The fastest way to waste money in the winter is not having good insulation. A well-insulated house should be able to keep a comfortable temperature for extended periods of time without the need for the furnace or A/C to kick on every 20-30 minutes.
- Turn off all air duct vents in rooms you are not using. If you have a guest room you have not used for years, shut them down and close the door.
- Insulate your water heater. Believe it or not, your water heater can save or waste you a good amount of money every day.
- Turn your water heater temperature down. Water temperature settings are set by the manufacturer and can easily be adjusted by you in your home. In most houses, the water is too hot to use without burning your hands. A simple adjustment by dropping the temperature down to about 125 degrees Fahrenheit (around 60 degrees Celsius) and also installing a water heater blanket to keep in the heat. A blanket can pay for itself in about a year, after which you’ll be saving money monthly. While you’re at it, insulate any exposed hot water pipes as well for additional savings. You can easily do all of this yourself and you will save!
- Take colder showers? Yeah, it might sound terrible, but it’s thought to have many health benefits. If you struggle to wake up in the morning, give this a shot!
- Take quick, efficient showers. One of the biggest ways we waste water every month is by taking looooooong showers. I limit myself to taking 3-5 minute showers. Learn how to get in and out and watch your water bill get lowered quickly.
- Install aerators on your faucets. They are simple to do and inexpensive too. They will cause more air in your water and help reduce the speed at which the water is coming out.
- Consider replacing your old washer with a new front-loading efficiency Energy Star clothes washing machine. Washing machines today are far more efficient at cleaning than those 20-year-old machines.
- Run your dishwasher on the “light load” setting. Chances are you don’t need your dishwasher to run the dishes through multiple cycles to get them clean.
- Turn off the faucet when you don’t need it on. I have been guilty of leaving it on when I shave my face. It’s a bad habit and something I am still working on.
- Install a dual flush valve on your toilets. Newer toilets have a #1 flush and a #2 flush depending on the need.
- Displace the amount of water used in each flush of your toilet by putting a water-filled two-liter bottle in your toilet tank. It actually works.
- Limit the watering of your lawn! Having a brown lawn isn’t the end of the world in mid-July. Don’t waste your time trying to keep it green. It also keeps your gas bill down not having to run your lawn mower.
Among consumer expenditures for basic necessities, energy is the least sensitive to changes in household income. What that means is simply this: The lower your income, the greater the impact it has on your disposable income. That’s why reducing your usage of energy sensibly is such a good thing.
The range of the cost can be dramatic. Lower income families can spend as much as 25% of the after-tax income on all utilities while high income families spend as little as 5% of their after-tax income on the same things.
There are as always only two ways you can affect those numbers, earn more money or save more on your usage! Hey, why not try doing both of those?
Are you dreading opening up your electric and gas bill? Do you worry about routine bills and think they are “just the way it is” and you can’t find a way to lower them? You have the power to control the power! But only you can do it. What are you doing right now to save money and as a bonus, save the planet too?