When we started our operation financial freedom we knew that we had to save money everywhere we could. One of the things we did was to start looking at the recurring expenses namely: Utilities. You know, those pesky expenses that come out every month that we don’t think about.
Often we over look these expenses because they come and go every month. If you can start to trim away the excess of these expenses you can start to see huge rewards over time. The best ways to save money on utilities is to take each one, and ask what you can do to lower the costs. There are a lot of ways to save money on utilities without making huge sacrifices. There are four categories where you can save on utilities:
Here are some tips to help you save money on utilities, and hold on to your hard earned cash.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities: Telecommunications
Reduce your Cable and Internet Bill
I hate negotiating with the cable company as much as anyone else, but the truth is the squeaky wheel gets greased. The truth is that a 10 minute call could save you for months to come. And those are the savings that us financial freedom chasers love. I won’t get into cutting the cable since it’s not something I’m familiar but I will say that I use Netflix more and more.
If you are looking for a great way to lower your cable bill without sitting on hold for hours you should definitely check out Trim.
Trim is handing out huge savings for it’s customers when it comes to your cable and internet bills. Best of all this free service takes seconds to sign up and then you works in the background. Simply sign up and they will start to work on saving you more money!
Here’s what it can do for you:
- Cancel your subscriptions that you aren’t using anymore
- Finds you better car insurance
- Negotiate a lower bills with your cell phone, internet and cable providers
Plus they are adding new features all the time.
All you do is sign up with Trim for free and they do the rest.
Look at Bundling Your Internet, Mobile Phones and Cable
The big 3! These are some of the biggest expenses we have and we usually get pretty complacent with them once we start up. You can cut your cable, reduce your data, and even ditch the landline. there are more possible savings to be had. If you use any two telecom (cable, broadband, wireless) services consider bundling. By grouping your communications packages into one bill you can get a discount. Better yet it may save you from that call of having to beg for a discount with your current provider. The bundling we do every month saves us $40.
Switch from a landline to VOIP
We switched over to Ooma 3 years ago and we love it.They have a great app for making long distance calls and rank high in consumer reports.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities: Electricity
Electricity. Can’t live without it. It’s literally costing you every second of the day. Your electricity is one of your biggest costs around and you need to make sure that you are not overpaying on it. Let’s go through the list of things you can do to cut this cost.
Ok full dork confession, about 2 years ago I got really motivated to cut down my electrical bill. So I picked up one of these.
It measures the amount of electricity that an appliance uses. You can enter in how much your cost per kilowatt of electricity. Then leave the appliance plugged in for a day or two and see how much it uses. Some items will surprise you. For the price this gizmo saved itself and then some in the first week.
For instance to charge my phone uses less than $2 a month, based on charging it once a day. Thought it would be waaaaay more. My remote control docking station uses $0.75 a year when it’s in charging mode. Our TV system that wasn’t turned on uses $17 a year to sit idle. And no one ever uses…. So we unplugged it. Simple.
This is honestly the easiest place to save money on utilities, because you set it once and then you are done. If you have computer in the house (and you most likely do), do you leave it on all day and night? That means there is probably 8-16 hours a day where it isn’t being used but still using power.
Go into your power saver settings for it to shut down at a certain time of night. (Here’s how to do it on a Mac and how to do it on a PC) You don’t need it running all night long. By doing this you will cut 33% of your power consumption on this gadget turned necessity. Plus it could extend the life of your computer as a bonus.
One last thing, use sleep mode too, the longer that screen is on the more power it sucks. Stop it and start saving money.
Turn Off Appliances When You Aren’t Using Them
Simple but effective. Like I mentioned earlier, that power meter show me how much phantom power each appliance drew. (Phantom power is power that an appliance draws when it’s turned off but still plugged in). Some of them were surprising to say the least. If you aren’t using something for months and months, unplug it. From coffee makers to lamps many things draw power even when you aren’t using them. Make sure to unplug them and keep the extra money.
Ditch the 1970’s Beer Fridge
Speaking of phantom power, that 1970’s beer fridge is probably sucking a lot more electricity than you are benefiting from. We got rid of ours this year. Our hydro company had a program where they take it away and pay you $50 for it.
Getting paid to save money, I love it! If you have one you are better off without it. Not to mention that the 1970s fridges weren’t very efficient to todays standards. I’m guessing we are saving an extra 50-100 a year from getting rid of it. Even downgrading to a smaller fridge could save you money.
Don’t Use the Oven on Small Things
An oven is great when you are making a big meal. But if you really want to save money on utilities and have a toaster oven. Then you should use it. It can do the same thing at a fraction of the cost. The toaster oven will offer you the same heat in a smaller container, giving you some nice savings.
Fill Up The Dishwasher
This is a must. Always wait for the dishwasher to be full until you use it. They take up a ton of energy to run. Doing a half-load isn’t worth it, leave it until it’s full, or wash them by hand if there are only a few.
Switch To Air Dry
Dryers suck up a huge amount of power. If you have the time and space, hang up your clothes and let the air dry out your clothes. It will help you to save money on your utilities.
If you have kids you know that your batteries are always getting replaced. Pick up some rechargeable batteries and enjoy the savings over the next few years.
Use the “Free” Freezer
If you live anywhere that goes freezing in the winter, outside is basically a freezer. Animal concerns aside, make use of the cold climate if you can.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities: Lights
There are a few ways to save on lights. The first one is to turn them off when you aren’t in the room. (I’m having a flashback to the hundreds of times my dad told me this in my youth). It’s a simple thing. Will it save you tons, over the long run? Yes.
Turn Off The Lights
And in that one sentence I became my father. This was the quintessential father comment. “Turn off the lights when you aren’t in the room” was the one I always heard. Now that I own a house I realize why. Every second that the lights are on and you aren’t using them it’s sucking money out of your pocket. Stop the madness!
Replace your lights with LED
LED Bulbs. I wrote about LED bulbs here. They are more expensive then traditional bulbs but they cut your costs dramatically compared. In simple shortest terms, LED lights save you a ton of money and you can recover the cost in a few short year. The cost savings over time is huge! Bonus! These lights last forever. Which is awesome. Because it means only switching lights every other decade rather than every year. Which isn’t big, but changing light bulbs is a nuisance.
Install Dimmer Switches
If you want to cut down your lighting costs even more than LED you can install dimmer switches. They use less power when you go to lower light settings. Stack that with the L.E.D. lights and you are going to see some nice savings over the years.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities: Heating and Cooling
The number 2 thing I used to hear a lot growing up was:
“Close the door we aren’t heating the whole neighborhood.”
Heating is the biggest utility for most people. When you are looking to save money on utilities heat should be your # 1 focus. There is no way around heating a house when it’s cold outside, here are some ways to cut those utility costs.
Get a Programmable Thermostat
Turn Down the Thermostat
If you don’t want to spring for a new thermostat, then turning down your thermostat is a easy way to go. This can save quite a bit of money. Don’t like the cold? Pop on a sweater or cozy up with a blanket. It’s the easier option.
Open Your Windows at Night
Another way to ways to save money at home in the summer is to open up the windows over night and let the cool air in. During the day close up the house and draw the curtains this will keep the house cooler longer. It’s not an end-all-be-all solution but it does add up.
Upgrade Your Insulation
There are a lot of programs out there that will cover your upgrade or give you grants to do so. You should check your area’s utility provider before doing this. Since you may need approval before getting started. If you are in an older house, upgrading your insulation will help cut your heating costs in the winter, and cooling costs in the summer. If you are in an older house the insulation could be quite old and in need of upgrading.
Upgrade Your Windows?
Stop the Air From Leaking Out
No matter what you do make sure to plug any hole you might have around your door and windows. Leaking air can quickly add up in the cold months. If you can see through the crack in the door it’s probably a good time to fix the gaps.
Replace Your Furnace Filter
I have a reminder set for this one. All the dust from your house goes through your ducts and ends up in that filter. When the filter gets clogged the furnace needs to work more to get the heat through.
Replacing them can help you save money on utility bills.
There are a few benefits of going green. Usually there is some sort of government incentive or grant. There is a higher up front cost but the savings can add up over time. Having geothermal for 7 years now I can say I love having the house at the same temperature year round. That said from the builders I have spoken with to install in an existing house. Like everything it could make sense for your situation.
Ways to Save Money on Utilities: Water and Waste
Install Low-Flow Shower Heads
This is become almost second nature in different places but if you haven’t put a low flow shower head in your house it’s worth looking into. The water savings could add up. Check out this calculator to see your savings.
Put Insulation Around your Hot Water Pipe
The majority of heat loss is from the first couple of feet coming out of your hot water tank. According to Energy.gov you should look to insulate the first 3 feet to preserve energy. Check out the video here on how to do it.
Install an Aerator
This is like a low flow shower head for your sink, it attaches onto the end of your tap and its dow the water while not lessening the pressure. You can check them out here
Install a Dual Flush Toilet
If you pay for water you are literally flushing money down the toilet. Throw some kids into the mix and that’s gonna hit the college fund at some point. Dual flush toilets are a great way to save money on your water costs.
Stop the Drip
If you have a leaky faucet in your house you should fix it as quickly as possible. Consider this: if you have one leaky faucet that drips 5 times a minute that’s 173 gallons a year. If you want to play with the numbers more check out this calculator.
Maximize Using Your Dishwasher
We touched on this for electricity but for water as well. When possible skip pre-rinsing your dishes and make sure your dishwasher is full when you use it.
Practice Using Less Water
Whether it’s showering instead of baths. Shorter showers instead of longer ones. Turning of the water when you shave or are washing veggies. Just turn off the tap when you aren’t immediately using it. Your wallet will thank you.
Recycle, Reduce and Reuse
When it comes to saving money there are often a lot of things you can do with your trash to make it easier on your waller. Since everyone charges for trash pick up, make sure to recycle whenever possible. When you can compost, try to do so. Finally make sure to use the earth’s resources when you don’t have to pay, a rain barrel is a great way to save money on your water bills when it comes to watering your garden and plants.
Did I leave any out? Let me know how you save on utilities in the comments below.
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