Opening an electric bill during the peak heating and cooling seasons can be a budget-testing experience for American families.
You’ve cut back on dining out, reduced your monthly cellphone data usage and even began clipping coupons, but the eye-popping electric bill undermines your effort to balance the household budget.
Don’t give up. You don’t need to ditch the AC during a July heatwave, but you could turn up the thermostat a little and save a lot. Similarly, hot showers are great, but taking shorter ones and lowering the temperature in your water heater can help you cut back on your expenses.
Energy is expensive and saving it has real financial benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, America’s 115 million residences collectively use an estimated 22.5% of the country’s energy output and the typical family spends $2,200 a year on utility bills.
There are plenty of easy ways to save on electricity, gas, air conditioning and water bills by being more mindful about how energy is used in your home or apartment.
Below we’ll cover three main utilities to save on: electric, water, and heating and cooling. We’ll explain how lowering usage of these can save you money and how to accomplish those savings.
We’ll also give details on long-term energy efficiency investments, and list many other ways to save money on utility bills.
Using less energy is the obvious and best way to save money on an electric bill. Using less energy can lower your utilities bill by as much as 25%.
Electricity for lights, powering electronics and other things accounts for about 12% of a home’s energy usage. If you have electric heating in your home, it’s likely one of the biggest parts of your utility bill.
Here are some suggested improvements that can reduce electrical usage. Where we can, we include how much each change can save you.
If you need help paying your electric bill, look into government assistance programs. One of the biggest ones is the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Also check with your power company to see if it has an energy cost management plan. It won’t trim your annual costs, but will more evenly distribute monthly payments. Utility bills will increase in spring and fall, but bills in high-usage months in the summer and winter will be lower.
Take a look at your water bill and you may be surprised at how much water you’re using.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the hot water heater is responsible for about 17% of a home’s total energy use.
Here are some ways to save water and money in your home or apartment:
Heating and cooling are the biggest expenses on utility bills, so reducing your gas, heating and air conditioning usage should lower your bills considerably.
Here are some ways to save on gas utilities and other costs of heating and cooling your home:
A great thing about being a homeowner is that you have more freedom to make improvements than renters do.
If you have the money to spend and plan on living there for years, long-term investments in a home can pay off will lower utility bills for years to come.
Here are some long-term investments to help homeowners save on utilities. Some we’ve detailed above, so we won’t go over them again in depth, but they’re all worth considering for long-term savings:
Lowering your utility bills shouldn’t be too hard. Just taking small steps such as replacing lightbulbs, shorter showers, and adjusting the thermostat can add up to big savings over time.
For more savings, try bigger steps like replacing old appliances and windows, and installing solar power. Some steps may require long-term investments, so do the math to ensure the savings will make them worthwhile.
Lowering utility costs aren’t the only ways to save money. Looking for cheaper housing to save on rent can be worthwhile.
If you have other debt problems, consider speaking with a credit counselor about lowering your monthly debt payments through a debt management plan. They can help you see where else you can be more efficient with your savings if you can’t pay your bills. Energy savings are a balancing act, and every budget is different.