How to Save More Money on Your Monthly Utility Bills
Our everyday lives call for services that make our existence not just bearable, but also comfortable and convenient to heat and/or cool our homes, connect us to family and friends through mobile technology and the internet. Meanwhile water gives us the ability to cook, bathe, clean, and do a lot of other daily tasks easily and almost stress-free.
Yet, all of these conveniences come at a cost. You pay for the amount of power and water you use. You pay for data on your phone and bandwidth on your internet. You pay to make calls and send text messages on your cell phone and even pay for someone to pick up your trash. Like they say, “Nothing is free.” In fact, your utility bills could easily eat up between 2-10% of your monthly income.
Utilities are Unavoidable
But it’s now impossible to live without utilities and their cost is just something you have to deal with each month. Our lives have become so dependent on these conveniences that it’s now challenging (though not impossible) to perform day-to-day tasks, connect, and afford entertainment without these services.
You could very well flip through the pages of a magazine for several hours a day, but oftentimes watching cable television just seems far more entertaining and convenient. You could cook over an open fire, but using the stove just makes it easier and faster. You could even send hand-written letters to family across the world, but you can now instantly connect with them through a phone call or instant messaging.
You have to pay for all these sorts of comfort and convenience. You also have to realize that utility services have become more than just luxury – most of them are now necessities that help us cope with the demands of our modern lifestyle.
Why You Want to Save Money on Your Utilities
Electricity, water, internet, gas and cable have become modern fixtures in our lives but you don’t always have to pay premium to be able to use and enjoy them. Most of these services aren’t exactly cheap. The price of electricity alone during the hot summer season could set you back as much as $100 each month on top your regular power bill. And then you’ll have to pay for heating during the cold winter season.
Undeniably, the cost of utilities will make a monotonously regular dent in your monthly budget, but you can still pocket a great deal of savings by being wise and practical with your usage and deals. Looking at hidden costs; spotting better deals or service providers and getting packages according to your usage will all help you come up with several hundred to thousands of dollars in savings each year.
Normal Range: $30-$50
The cost of electricity largely depends on how much time you spend at home, if you’re using heating and air-conditioning and the type of appliances you own. It is reasonable to pay between $30-$50 for electricity each month, but expect for the cost to fluctuate during the cold and winter season. You also need to take into consideration your location. If you live in states where summer can get unbearably hot, expect to pay more for air conditioning for several months. Meanwhile, other states will only prompt you to use the AC or heating system for just a few months, therefore resulting to lower electricity bill. The use of heating system during winter somewhat even outs your power consumption all throughout the year.
Money Saving Tactics
1. Address Drafts
If you live an old building, inspect your doors and windows for drafts. These are tiny exit points where air escapes, prompting your AC or heating system to work double time, therefore consuming more electricity than necessary. There are a lot of weather stripping and caulking items that you can purchase for cheap at several home improvement stores.
Alternatively, you can seal doors and windows via DIY, such as using a door snake to prevent air from escaping from your home. Addressing drafts is one the cheapest way to help you save money from your electric bills, amounting to as much as 20% in savings, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
2. Invest in a Programmable Thermostat
Heating is the biggest expense on your electricity bill every winter. And while it would be difficult to go through the winter season without a heating system, you can radically bring the cost down by taking control of your thermostat. A digital or programmable thermostat allows you to heat your home only when there are people around, thereby saving you from heating costs when your home is empty. Simply set it to heat your home thirty minutes before arriving home and you’d feel warm and toasty without wasting unnecessary energy. The Department of Energy also says that you can save up to 15% of your annual heating bill by bringing the temperature down by at 10 degrees when no one is home.
Another way to save on heating expenses is by bringing the temperature down by 3 degrees and wearing thick winter clothes and sleeping under a comforter which will help you save around 9% of your annual electric bill.
3. Switching Bulbs
If you’re still using CFLs, or worse, incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to make the switch to LED bulbs and pocket the difference. With 10 times more efficiency than CFLs, LED bulbs prove to be a smart investment as they consume 75% lesser power. Energy-star rated light bulbs, while initially expensive, will pay for themselves off in the long run.
4. Address Wasted Energy
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, we are losing a whooping $10 each year on wasted energy. Leaving certain appliances plugged in when not in use, such as TV sets and computers is plain waste of electricity. Unplugging them can save you up to $100 on your bill each year.
Alternatively, you could use a special power strip for electronic devices like computers, modems and printers. The strip kills all power supply in each outlet when it is turned off. If you put your computer to sleep, it will resume to your last session when you power it up back again.
5. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
Old and outdated appliances can consume large amounts of energy. If you’re looking to replace your appliances and bring down your electric bill, opt for Energy Star appliances. These appliances have been especially rated for energy efficiency and can help you up save up to $600 each year.
Your refrigerator is specifically using huge amounts of power to run. If it’s at least 8 years old right now, consider replacing it with an energy efficient version and pocket as much as $110 in savings. To keep the fridge even more efficient, schedule cleaning its coils twice a year which help improve efficiency by up to 50%. It’s also good to keep your fridge full as it becomes more efficient when it is. Lastly, make sure that the door is sealing properly to prevent cold air from escaping.
6. Regularly Monitor the Condition of your Appliances and Furnace Filter
Most of your home’s energy expense is due to your heating and cooling needs. To keep your air conditioning running in top condition and stay energy-efficient, get a professional to check its condition at least once every 2 years. It’s also advised to regularly clean the lint screen of your dryer as well as inspect and replace your furnace filters during the heating seasons to maintain efficiency and prevent fire-related incidents.
Normal Price Range $220-250 per month
Owning a car means you’ll have to pay for gas to get you from point to another. Simply said, gas is an important necessity for people who drive and own cars. While you can’t dictate the price of gas in the market, there are several ways to bring its cost down.
Money Saving Tactics
7. Drive Less
Obviously, driving less means consuming lesser amount of gas in your tank. By being intentional with your errands, you can plan routes and stops so that you don’t have to go back and forth between places. If you’re planning to go to a nearby building, walk instead and enjoy the exercise. Alternatively, use a bike and help reduce the amount of carbon emission in the atmosphere.
8. Strategize your Gas Purchases
Buying gas at random days of the week will not always give you the best deal. You should know that there are certain days of the week and times of the day when gas prices are lower. Gas prices typically go up every Thursday at 10 am since gas station owners already anticipate the influx of customers who are driving for the weekend. As much as possible, don’t buy gas from Thursday to Sunday and opt to purchase every Monday to Wednesday to enjoy the cheaper deals. Also anticipate higher gas prices a few days before (and the day/s itself) the holidays.
9. Drive Slower
Being aggressive on the road will not help your mood or your gas tank. When you accelerate too rapidly, you also lose out on gas quickly. According to a test conducted by Edmunds.com, drivers of Land Rover can save as much as 35% of their fuel and Mustang drivers can save as much as 27% by approaching red lights and driving away from green lights slowly. Using cruise control will also help you achieve more mileage by as much as 14% (for Land Rover) and 4.5% (for Mustang) in a maintained speed of 75mph compared to fluctuating speeds between 65-75mph.
10. Plan Your Route
Mobile technology now affords us the ability to locate the most sensible routes to lessen fuel consumption as well locate the least expensive gas stations near you. Consult Waze or Google maps if you’re unsure which route to take. Meanwhile, a couple of apps like GasBuddy, SmartFuel, GasCubby and AroundMe can help you find gas stations offering the lowest gas prices.
11. Use Gas Gift / Rewards Card
There are a number of venues to get great deals on gas. For instance, you can purchase gas gift cards from sites like GiftCardGranny.com where you pay a few dollars lesser than the actual worth of the card.
Alternatively, consider getting a specific credit card that gives you rewards for purchasing gas. This can be very helpful if you’re always on the road and you’re confident that you can pay off the balance each month in full. Meanwhile, a number of grocery stores offer gas rewards cards. You accumulate points for buying groceries from them and you can use those points to get gas for less or free.
12. Being Smart with the AC
The air-conditioning unit in your car can get very convenient and comfortable, but if you’re looking to reduce fuel consumption, you must also learn to use it wisely. Consider lowering the windows for most of the trip and enjoy the natural breeze. Also ensure that you have drinks accessible during the drive and pick a shady spot to park. Just be careful though about bringing the windows down if you’re driving at fast speed as this will create a drag and result to more fuel consumption. All in all, consider the situation and see if it’s practical to use the AC or not.
13. Know When to Turn Off / Idle
If the car is going to stay idle for than a few minutes, it might be more practical to turn the car off completely. Being idle for 10 minutes is equivalent to driving for 5 minutes in terms of fuel consumption. So if you’re waiting for take-out or your turn in the drive-thru, turn the car off and wait. Or better yet, go inside and get your order.
14. Refuel your vehicle before you’re on empty
It would be so easy to pull over the nearest gas station or pump when you’re about to run out of gas, but those conveniently located along the highway aren’t always the cheapest. As much as possible, refill your tank when it still has about ¼ of gas so you can still drive around to find the cheapest gas. You can also conveniently use your gas app this way and have the right to be picky with the gas stations you go to.
15. Minimize Extra Cargo
The more stuff you put in your car, the less aerodynamic it becomes. According to Breitling Oil and Gas CEO and president, Chris Faulkner, “every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile per gallon of gas.” And according to the US Department of Energy, you can also save around 63 cents per gallon if you avoid rooftop cargo while driving on the highway. If you really need to bring something heavy, consider towing a small trailer to save more on gas. With that said, there’s no use keeping the ski or bicycle rack on your roof if you’re simply going to the grocery.
16. Maintain your Vehicle
Maintaining your car is not just important for optimum performance, it can also afford you substantial gas savings for the long term. In order to enhance gas mileage, you need to make sure that your tires are not deflated; you perform regular oil change and replace air filters when necessary.
According to experts, under-inflated tires reduce your gas mileage and could also impact the tread life and your efficiency for braking and handling. The US Department of Energy also implies that properly inflated tires can help increase your mileage by 3.3%. Meanwhile, making sure that you regularly replace air filters can help increase mileage by 7%.
Also, make sure to properly tune your engine and use the correct motor oil so that engine becomes efficient and wouldn’t have to work harder.
Normal Price Range: $50-$70/month
Water is a basic need that provides hydration and allows you to cook and clean. Your water bill could have some “leakages” that makes it more expensive than necessary. Here are ways to help you reduce the cost of water consumption and bring your utility expenses down.
Money Saving Tactics
17. Use a Faucet Aerator
If your faucet is pouring out huge amount of water, you’re also wasting huge amount of money down the drain as well. This could be the case of you have an old faucet. Putting an aerator will help tone down the water flow but the pressure remains the same. This way, you get to use lesser amount of water at any given point. Some aerators can even swivel to direct the flow where it is needed. Use an aerator if you own an older faucet but newer ones may already have pre-installed aerators.
18. Place Drinking Water in the Fridge
Fancy drinking a glass of cold water each time? Instead of waiting for your tap water to get cold and waste substantial amount of water while doing so, place a pitcher of water inside your refrigerator so you can have something cold to drink instantly. You could also put some ice cubes in the fridge and drop them into your glass of tap water.
19. Use a low-flow shower head
According to the US Department of Energy, old models of shower heads could waste as much as 5.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). To save water and reduce your bill, opt for a low-flow shower head that releases 2.5gpm, saving you as much as 60% of your water bill. These shower heads are relatively low-cost that you can purchase in many home improvement and plumbing stores, but they can do a lot to save water from going to waste.
20. Reduce Shower Time
Along with using a low-flow shower head, reducing shower time could help you see significant changes in your water bill. One minute reduction in your shower time could result to conserving 1,000 gallons of water each year, so think about how much time you should really spend in the shower now. In fact, if you shower for just five minutes and use a low-flow shower head, you would only be using 12.5 gallons instead of 37.5 gallons if you shower for 15 minutes.
21. Repair Leaks and Insulate your Pipes
According to the National Sanitation Foundation, you’re wasting up to 2,000 gallons of water each year if you leave a leaky faucet unattended. Meanwhile, a leaky toilet could result to around 500 gallons of water being wasted daily! If your bill is surprisingly huge than usual, go check out your faucets and toilet and address any leaks.
Furthermore, insulating your pipes will give you hot water faster and help reduce water waste. You can buy foam insulators in home improvement stores and even go about the project yourself. Insulation is just a fraction of the expense your water being wasted due to lack of insulation and leakages.
22. Turn off Water When not in Use
If you’re in the habit of letting tap water run as you brush or shave, the consequences could very well manifest on your monthly water bill. You’re simply letting unused water go to waste. The next time around, fill a glass of water and turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth. Set aside another glass if you need to dip your razor often while shaving.
23. Wash Full Loads of Dishes and Laundry
Washing your dishes every so often will lead to more water being wasted. Using the dishwasher and washing full loads will help reduce water and electric consumption since you’ll only need to wash in one (or few) go. The same can be said when doing the laundry. Instead of washing one load every so often, you can save more water by doing full loads. Another caveat is to use cold water instead of hot when washing the dishes and laundry. The results are the same but the amount of water and electricity that can be saved can be a huge difference.
24. Collect Rainwater
Rainwater comes at no cost to you. Attaching rain barrels will help gather rainwater which you can use in washing your car and in watering your plants.
Normal Price Range: $50 for basic/ $100 cable/internet bundled bill
Cable is nice to have, but it’s doesn’t come up at par with importance of water and electricity. In short, you can have no cable and still live a convenient and comfortable life. And while cable brings digital entertainment to a whole new level, a lot of people have cut the cord or have sought alternatives to bring the cost down.
Money Saving Tactics
25. Watch What You Need
With the cheap cost of digital antenna and a decent number of channels, the option to totally cut the cord will help you get more savings from your now non-existent cable bill. Such antennas typically cost around $50 but you also get to pocket as much as $75 from the monthly bill. And if you’re content with local channels and some form of supplemental content like Netflix which only costs around $20, then there should be no problem about getting your dose of digital entertainment.
Knowing what you want and need to watch will help you zero in on the most cost-effective option. Your cable service provider might offer an impressive 300-channel selection, but do you really watch all that? Chances are, you only need some of those channels which will also cost you as much as 50% less than paying full price for the service.
26. Call Before Your Promotional Deals End
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting when your promo period ends to avoid skyrocketing charges on your cable bill. For instance, if you’ve signed up for a basic promo of $50 cable/ month for six months; make sure to know when exactly that period ends. Otherwise, the company will charge you with the regular fees after that period. It is important to call the company at least a week before the expiration ends to let them know if you’re extending for a period of time or getting a different deal this time around.
The thing is, your cable company will likely offer you some freebies or an even better deal for retaining your business with them. This gives you great bargaining power and you can take advantage of this moment to further bring your cable bill down.
27. Look for Cheaper Alternatives
If you don’t want to cut the cord altogether and enjoy specific contents for a reduced price, you have numerous options at your disposal. First, consider getting what is called the Skinny TV. With this type of scheme, you get to watch specific channels and pay them, without the extra cost of channels that don’t matter to you. Verizon and Comcast are two of the leading providers of Skinny TV, promising around $600 in yearly savings.
Netflix is another popular cable alternative. It gives people some sort of middle ground to watch the content they like for around $15 a month. Hulu Plus for a flat fee of $7.99/month, Sling TV for $20/month and Amazon Prime for $99/year are all good supplements for what basic cable or digital antenna are unable to provide. Another important consideration with this type of services is that they run with internet, so make sure that your internet service and package are well-tailored for these contents as well. Yet, all in all, the rise of these alternatives now provides cheaper solutions without skimping on content. Most of all, these provide users with great amount of freedom and flexibility.
Normal Price Range: $40-$60/month
Like cable, it’s nice to have internet. The modern society has now become very dependent on internet to perform a lot of things in both business and personal aspects. Internet does not only support entertainment, it is also a tool commonly used for connectivity. But internet does not have to be very expensive. Here are ways to stay on the grid without incurring expensive internet charges.
Money Saving Tactics
28. Consider Getting a Bundled Plan
You should know that your cable supplements like Netflix and Amazon Prime rely on the internet to be able to give you the content you need. So if you’re cutting cable out of your expenses, internet providers who are likewise cable providers, would want to make up for their losses in other ways, namely to raise your internet bill.
If you use cable and the internet (and possibly your phone) on a regular basis, it would make more sense to get a bundled plan from one service provider than to get these services from three different companies. Reason being, these bundles keeps your business with them, therefore, they’re more willing to give you cheaper plans than getting just one service. Of course, it pays to look around first and compare deals from different companies before signing up for their services.
29. Determine your Speed and Data Needs
Different internet users have different needs for speed and data. If you’re a light user who occasionally surfs the web and updates social media, you could very well be contented with low-mid speed connections. However, if you make a livelihood on the internet or much of your entertainment needs rely on it, you might consider getting higher speed ones. Speed is also affected by the number of people simultaneously connected to one router and what they do online. If you and your roommate are obsessed with streaming, you might need at least 5mbps. The upside is that you get to share the cost which also automatically slashes the bill in half.
As for data, you need to understand that a lot, if not all, internet service providers now have data caps in place. When you exceed this, you could get charged for additional data you use. The key to bringing your internet bill down as far as data is concerned is to monitor your usage. Some apps may automatically download or update and they consume your data. If you don’t use those apps, take them down now. It’s also good to turn off data connection or use public wifi when you don’t have to be connected to prevent any more of those unnecessary charges.
30. Remove Modem Rental
A modem is hardware required to make your internet connection work with your devices. However, most ISPs provide modems in a rental basis which could be charged $5-$10 monthly.
Buying your own modem could help you pocket the $5-$10 difference monthly and help you save around $120 off your bill each year. You just to consider though that you need to purchase a compatible modem and that your ISP will allow you to use your own instead of what their company provides. You might have to pay upfront, but the modem will soon pay for itself in less than a year.
Normal Price Range: $10-$40/month
Trash pickup is probably the least of your concern when it comes to utility services, but it could pretty get alarming if everyone else’s trash are being picked up except for yours. If you live in an apartment, trash pickup services are likely bundled with water and sewer fees, but if you live in your own home, this service certainly help remove clutter at home. But if you’re unwilling to shell out money for the fee each month, there’s one way to go about disposing trash.
Money Saving Tactics
31. Throw Trash Yourself
If you’d want to pocket $40 each month for trash pickup, the best thing that you can do is to dispose trash yourself. The labor comes free of charge and with little effort and some planning; you could possibly save at least $120 each year for this service. Simply ask where your town’s dump site is, collect your trash each week or biweekly and throw the trash at the said site for around $2-$5 each time. That means you only need to spend roughly $10 monthly for the disposal and you get to pocket around $30 for your non-existent private trash pickup bill.
Phone / Cell Phone
Normal Price Range: $70-$120/month
The cell phone is now the most portable device for communication and entertainment. And while you can use your phone conveniently to surf the net and make calls, certain add-ons and perks may inflate your bill. Here are ways to cut back on phone expenses and become a more practical phone user.
Money Saving Tactics
32. Use Free Calling and Texting Apps Apps
If you call a lot using your cell, it pays to install and use free web-based calling apps instead so you don’t exceed your talking minutes. Apps like Skype and FaceTime are easy to operate and only need to be installed on the other person’s phone for the communication to work. Best of all, using these services aren’t counted against the precious talk minutes the provider has allotted you.
Aside from calling apps, there’s also a number of free texting apps like iMessage and Text+ that allow you to send text messages for free. These apps must also be installed on the phone of the receiver for them to work.
33. Avoid In-app Fees and Other Unnecessary Charges
If your bill is showing foreign charges, you probably clicked and opted in in-app products that provide updates and other perks at a cost. Perhaps you clicked on a game or an app that seems free at first, but when you unlock other features or when the app expires, new charges are incurred to your bill. If you don’t notice and unsubscribe from them right away, you could face a hefty phone bill by the end of the month.
Disable games and certain apps if you allow kids to use your phone. They might download paid games and apps without you knowing. It’s also good to keep your passwords for services like iTunes as they might make purchases that can quickly balloon your bill.
34. Stay Away from Contracts
With phones becoming more affordable these days, it doesn’t make sense to be locked into at least two year plan with a phone and network provider and risk paying fees if you want to jump ship mid-contract. Sometimes, an iPhone will seem more appealing and affordable if you pay for it through a contract, but if you’re after the phone and not the network’s package itself, it would be best to simply buy the phone upfront or through installment. You get to enjoy the phone after you’ve paid for it without the extra costs that your contract brings.
35. Look for Cheaper Packages/Bundles
There are a number of cheaper options for different situations. First, consider using a prepaid line instead of postpaid if you don’t really use your phone that often. Prepaid plans can be as cheap for $20 per quarter if you are frugal with calls and texts and you use your phone for bare necessities.
There also plans that provides free calls and texts to members of that specific plan. For instance, there are bundled packages good for a group of three members. While you might be charged for out-of-network calls and texts, you also get to enjoy low to zero costs for in-network calls. Sign up your spouse and kid or two of your closest friends for this plan and enjoy the savings.
Smaller companies are also offering affordable plans for group of users. For instance, you only need to pay $80 each month for three lines and enjoy around 20 hours of calls, send 15,000 text messages and use 2 GB of data. There are also companies offering the pay-as-you-go scheme where you only need to pay for certain amount of data or call minutes.
The Bottom Line
With some scouting and research, you can significantly reduce your utility bills and save the difference for something more important. Be vigilant with how you use power, electricity, data and your phone; look for cheaper deals and try to wrestle a cheaper rate with your provider after proving that you have been a loyal customer and good payer. It might be difficult to imagine how life would be right now without an internet connection or perhaps some hot water, but you don’t always have to suffer from their staggering costs. Do a thorough check about your needs to adjust your utility cost accordingly.
Disclaimer: Content found on KingofKash.com, including: text, images, audio, or other media formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional financial advice. Always seek the advice of a professional accountant, CPA, or financial planner with any questions you may have regarding your finances. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog.