A mortgage is hardly the only bill homeowners have to pay. Utility bills — including gas, electric, water, cable, and Internet — can also really add up these days. Figuring out how to lower such costs can give your monthly budget a much-needed boost.
Six Steps To A Lower Utility Bill
Most people don’t realize how expensive it can be to live in a single-family house until they start having to pay the bills for the first time. In addition to the mortgage, taxes, and insurance, you have monthly utility bills.
The amount Americans spend today on utilities is pretty outrageous. According to data collected by CreditDonkey, the average bill breakdown is as follows:
- Electric bill: $104 per month
- Water bill: $70 per month
- Gas bill: $83 per month
That’s already $257 per month … and we haven’t even gotten to the Internet and cable service! When you calculate that the average cable and Internet bill is more than $100, we’re looking at more than $350 per month for utilities — which is $4,200 a year.
If you’re like most people, $350 a month for utility costs puts a substantial dent in your budget. Fortunately, you can do some things about that, such as:
1. Turn Down The Water Heater
Want a tip about something you can do to save money in 30 seconds or less? Turn down the temperature on your water heater.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends homeowners keep their heater set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal performance and energy savings. But if you’ve never touched the setting on your water heater, it’s more likely set to 140 degrees (which most manufacturers treat as their default setting).
This won’t make you rich, but you could save up to $20 a year by making this simple adjustment.
3. Seal Gaps And Cracks
“Unless your home is brand new, it’s likely your home has gaps, cracks, and openings that force your AC to work harder to cool your home. Air could be leaking out through doors that lack tight seals, broken or missing storm windows or through a poorly insulated attic,” McCombs Supply Co. explains.
“Take a walk through your home and examine which areas could be responsible for allowing your cold air to escape.”
One big problem can be the space around pull-down attic stairs. If you spend $100 on an attic tent that seals off that opening, you can enjoy a significant ROI over the years to come.
3. Use Your Fireplace
Do you have a wood-burning fireplace? During the winter, this can be one of the most cost-effective sources of heat for your home.
Of course, it requires firewood, but you might be surprised by how much free wood is out there. Search Craigslist for your area and you’ll locate people who want to get rid of dead and fallen trees; many of them are already cut up into sections.
4. Heat Only What You Need
Stop heating your entire house when you use only a few of your rooms throughout the day. Instead, purchase a small space heater or three and shut the doors to other rooms. Turn the central heating to a lower setting and stay warm without racking up a high-energy bill for heat in spaces you rarely go.
5. Eliminate Phantom Loads
“A shocking 75 percent of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they’re turned off,” personal finance blogger Erin Huffstelter explains. “These ‘phantom’ users include televisions, DVD players, stereos, computers, and many kitchen appliances — basically anything that holds a time or other settings.”
The best solution is to plug electronics into power strips and develop the habit of turning the entire strip off between uses.
6. Cut The Cord
If you still have cable, it could be time to cut the cord. Depending on what type of package you pay for, you’re probably spending between $75 and $150 per month on your TV.
Sign up for a couple of live streaming (YouTube TV, Sling, etc.) and/or on-demand services (Netflix, Prime, etc.). You can get them for a fraction of the cost.
Be A Cost-Conscious Homeowner
You’re probably paying way more than you need to on utility bills. Take the time to inspect your home and look for opportunities to save. Cutting your utility bills by just 10 percent could save more than $1,000 a year.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.