Saving money on utilities is something we’d all like to do. It’s almost like money down the drain every month, well some of it. While the modern comforts are great, there’s no need to waste it. By following a few simple steps, you can cut your utility bills down and put that money in a better place. Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce electricity, water and gas bills:
Using Less Electricity
What if I told you the secret to using less electricity is not having so much stuff that you requires power? That’s part of the secret, the other part being you can create your own electricity using solar panels. There are many ways you can reduce your electrical usage, let’s explore a few ways:
- Solar power – you can add panels to your roof that will provide power to your home during the day, and whatever is left over can be fed back into the grid to reduce your electricity costs overnight. Many people end up with near zero bills or receiving money back.
- Unplug your devices – unplugging adapters, computers, TVs, appliances and other electronics is a great way to save on electricity. They all consume power when they’re not in use, and this is especially true when you’re away from the house for extended periods of time or on vacation. Unplug these items and save.
- Look for efficiency when buying – always check the energy star tag on your TV, appliance or other devices to see how much power they consume. If you’re buying an appliance that uses 2x the power of its competitors, look to find out why. An inefficient refrigerator can be more costly than just power, especially if it cannot keep food properly cold.
Using Less Water
It should seem obvious to us the ways that we can reduce water usage, but so many homes look past this and just leave their usage status quo. I’m always eyeing the rate usage on our utilities year-by-year, month-by-month, so I know when we’re using a lot of water, and when we’re not. We have a pool in our backyard, so we use more water during the summer trying to keep it topped off than we do at any other time. It takes hundreds of gallons during the summer. During the winter, dozes, so it’s far less usage. But how do we really reduce water usage?
- Run sprinklers for less time – if you have a programmable sprinkler system, program it to run for 5 minutes rather than 10. Check your sprinkler nozzles for damage and make sure they’re aimed at foliage and not driveways and sidewalks.
- Take shorter showers – I know this may be the most difficult to actually accomplish, but showers are one of the biggest water hogs in your home. Try timing your shower to see if you’re going over 10 minutes. If you shower daily (which I recommend), even 2 minutes a day is over 1 hour of running water a month. That could equate to hundreds of gallons. Use your water and your time wisely.
- Don’t prewash your dishes – how many of us wash our dishes before we put them in the dishwasher? I remember a friend saying, ‘But I didn’t use soap,’ as if that were the reason they needed to be washed twice. You could easily have used soap as you scrubbed them and skipped the dishwasher altogether. If you’re using a dishwasher, let it do its job. If you hand wash your dishes, finish the job. It’s one of the few things we wash twice. But think about it this way – do you wash your hair and face before you get in the shower, and then wash it again?
Using Less Natural Gas
If you have natural gas in your home, you know how easy it is to run up the bill using the heating system or gas fireplace. Gas fireplaces look great and don’t create a mess, so it seems natural to want to run it all the time. This could add up to one costly gas bill. It’s a good idea to limit your gas fireplace usage to a couple of hours a day at most. Running it for 4+ hours a day will add up quickly and add quite a bit to your monthly utilities bill.
Measuring Electrical Use
If you don’t already have one, I recommend buying a device like the Kill-a-watt to measure current draw. Knowing how much electricity your devices use is the first step in know what to curtail. It’s easy to measure, and they aren’t expensive at all (~$20).
Measuring Water Use
Measuring water can be done with little effort, but it’s not as easy as using a Kill-a-watt. For example, measuring water use in the shower is as easy as timing how long it will take to fill a 2 gallon bucket. If it takes 1 minute to fill, your shower uses 2 gallons/minute. Your toilets will list how much water each flush uses. Your kitchen sink will have to be measured like your shower, but you can figure out exactly how much water is being used while your faucet runs, which will help remind you to shut it off after it’s been running alone for a few seconds.
As you can see, measuring your electrical and water use is an easy task, and will help you understand where your money is going on utilities. Be aware of how you’re using power and save the money that is otherwise wasted every month.