Tips for Cutting Down on Utilities Costs
One of the best ways to save money is by creating a monthly budget. Many households struggle with creating a monthly budget because they feel there are too many costs that are hard to calculate. However, one consistent area that households can budget for is their monthly utility costs. Utility costs are one of the largest expenses for a household. Utilities are often defined as electricity and water services. While some areas combine these charges, most often they are kept separate.
Many households mistakenly believe there is nothing they can do to significantly lower their utility costs. However, households have significant control over their utility costs. Some of the changes the household can make lower the utility bills by only a small amount. While these may not seem significant at first, however, several small savings can quickly add up and lead to a significant reduction in monthly utility costs.
Heating and Cooling Utility Costs
Calculating how much goes into heating and cooling costs can be very difficult. Many households overlook how many devices in their home actually require heating and cooling. A great way to reduce the heating and cooling costs within a household is to use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats have two different ways of reducing monthly utility costs. Whenever possible, the household can use the programmable thermostat to create a set schedule. Having a set schedule allows the thermostat to adjust heating and cooling at specific points in time, such as hours where everyone is out of the house or sleeping.
Households that do not have long periods where nobody is home can still benefit from a programmable thermostat. These households can program the thermostat to keep the house at specific temperatures throughout. Once the temperature is reached, the heating or cooling will automatically shut off or become idle as long as those temperatures are maintained. More elaborate systems allow households to set specific temperatures for individual rooms, while others simply apply to the whole house.
Another way to cut down on heating and cooling costs is to use portable devices. During the colder months, the household could use a portable space heater rather than heating the whole house with an air conditioning unit. Some households may also be able to use a fireplace to heat the house. In warmer months, households may be able to keep the windows open and use portable fans instead of air conditioning, which is much more expensive to maintain.
Households that do not mind doing a little work can also change their roof to a different color. White roofs are better for keeping a home cool, since black roofs attract sunlight and increase the overall temperature of the home. This may seem like a relatively minor change, but changing the color of a roof can sometimes save up to $100 dollars each year in heating or cooling costs.
To reduce both heating and energy, households can also use cold water to wash clothing. Water heaters use up a substantial amount of power and often are set to make the water much warmer than it needs to be. At the very least, households should set their water heaters to 120 degrees. This is lower than the default temperature for most water heaters, but it is still more than enough heat for utilities that rely on heated water.
Household Electrical Devices
Most households have a variety of devices that consume electricity. Some examples include computers, gaming consoles, televisions, ovens and more. On their own, these devices consume a small amount of electricity. However, as a group, these devices end up consuming a great deal of electricity. What makes these devices expensive is the fact that many of them consume electricity even when they are not in use.
There are a lot of devices that have power-saving options and automatically turn on when they have been idle for a certain amount of time. It is even more efficient to turn the devices off completely. However, the best way to eliminate these electrical costs is to put the devices on a power strip. Once the devices are no longer in use, shut down the power strip to ensure the devices do not use any additional electricity.
ENERGY STAR Devices
There are some household products that naturally consume a lot of electricity. Some of the biggest offenders are refrigerators, freezers and washing machines. Unlike smaller electronic devices, it is not possible to turn these devices off or plug them into a power strip. With these devices, the best way to cut down on utility costs is to buy more energy-efficient models. ENERGY STAR devices are designed to use significantly less power compared to older models. It may seem counterproductive to spend money on new devices to save money, but these devices may eventually pay for themselves thanks to their energy efficiency.
Another utility that many households initially overlook when attempting to cut down on household costs is water. A great way of cutting down on water costs is to install a new showerhead. Low-flow showerheads are relatively inexpensive and greatly reduce the amount of water consumed in the shower. With sinks, installing a faucet aerator helps reduce costs. Faucet aerators help with both water costs and heating costs. Finally, the household should consider replacing any leaky faucets throughout the house, since these faucets ultimately waste water and lead to increased utility bills.