Most households spend a huge portion of their budget on utility bills, making it difficult for them to save for other more important things. Although utilities are a necessity, there are different ways to help reduce your monthly utility expenses. We spoke with the experts who shared their tips on how to save money on utilities.
The following are the top 25 ways on how to save money on utilities according to the pros:
1. Program Your Thermostat According to Your Schedule
Ted Noonan, President, Noonan Energy
To keep your electrical costs down in the summer when you are running an air conditioner, set the thermostat to a higher temperature before you leave the house. In the winter, set the thermostat to lower the temperature during times that you are out of the house or asleep. Get a programmable thermostat to make it even easier. Some can even be operated through an app on a smartphone, so you can adjust the temperature in your home even when you are away.
2. Clean Your Air Ducts
Jack White, Vice President of Technical Services, Rainbow International Restoration
Keep your air ducts clean, not just for health reasons but also for efficiency reasons. Dust, debris, and other blockages can build up over time, restricting the airflow through your HVAC system ducts. This causes the unit to have to work harder to achieve the desired temperature. You should clean your air ducts at least every three years. If you haven’t cleaned them recently, it could be affecting your electric bill.
3. Use a Portable or Window Air Conditioner Instead of a Central AC System
Patrick Holmes, Indoor Air Quality Specialist, Home Air Quality Guides
Instead of using a central air conditioning system, one of the simplest ways to reduce your cooling costs is to switch to a portable or window air conditioner. These smaller units can cool an individual room or connect rooms for about $20 to $40 per month as compared to a central AC that ranges from $100 to $300. People spend most of their time at home in one or two rooms, and this is the most economical way to stay comfortable without spending a lot of money on utility bills.
4. Replace Your AC Filters Regularly to Save Money
Jim Molinelli, Architect & Remodeling Expert, Jim Molinelli LLC
Regardless how new or old your AC unit is, if air has to be pushed through a clogged or dirty filter, it costs you a lot of extra electricity for the unit to run. It also can stress the unit over time and contribute to a premature breakdown. It’s an inexpensive and simple thing to buy some excellent new filters to keep on hand and change every couple months, especially during peak cooling season! Buying the filters in bulk can save you money too, and makes changing them a snap without another trip to the store. A side benefit is that you improve your indoor air quality the more advanced and clean your filters are.
5. Plant Native Trees & Shrubbery
Cassy Aoyagi, President, FormLA Landscaping
Native trees have evolved to thrive in your climate, so they are the most likely to thrive long enough to establish an expansive tree canopy. Once you have that, you’ll cool your property, which will lower both your energy and water bills. Like trees, shrubbery can also cool properties and help reduce your energy costs. Choose native plants because they cost 15 percent less to maintain than non-natives.
6. Use Ceiling Fans to Cool or Warm Yourself
Richard Ciresi, Franchise Owner, Aire Serv
Ceiling fans create a wind chill effect, allowing you to adjust thermostat settings by 4 to 7 degrees F (up to 30 percent savings) and still remain comfortable. Ensure savings by verifying a counterclockwise motion during the summer months, and reverse to a clockwise motion for autumn and winter. Also, make sure to turn off your fans when you leave the room to save more on cost.
7. Replace Your Roof with Energy Star Roofs
April Kozlowski Palomino, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate
Replacing your roof not only adds curb appeal to your home, it enhances your home’s energy efficiency and it can bring up to 72 percent return on investment when you decide to sell your home. An Energy Star-rated roof will reflect the sun’s rays, which means that during summer and warmer seasons, the roof temperature is cooler and less heat is transferred to the home. In turn, this will reduce your energy costs when the demand on your AC is reduced and it does not have to cycle on as frequently. Speak to your tax professional because there are also tax incentives that are given to homeowners who make energy-efficient upgrades to their home. You may be able to save up to 30 percent on the installation costs, bringing you additional savings.
8. Replace Your Light Bulbs with LED Bulbs
Jill Caponera, Consumer Savings Expert, Promocodes.com
Swap out your current light bulbs with halogen incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs, or compact fluorescent lights. These types of light bulbs use 20 percent to 80 percent less electricity compared to standard light bulbs. Also, they will usually last up to 25 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, which consume the most energy.
9. Wrap Your Water Heater with Insulated Blankets
John Hale, Owner, Mr. Electric of Augusta
Wrap the water heater with an insulated blanket and save around $20 on gas and $50 for electric heaters annually. A water heater blanket is a layer of insulation that wraps around the water heater. This extra layer of insulation helps reduce standby heat losses by 25 percent to 45 percent. It also lessens the energy required to maintain your water’s temperature. It can help save energy and money in the long run.
10. Upgrade to a High-Efficiency HVAC System
Mike Hopkins, CEO, Ice Energy
Homeowners should consider replacing their standard HVAC with higher-efficiency systems. There are several standards in place that help customers determine the efficiency of a new HVAC system. For instance, AC systems are rated by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER); the minimum SEER rating is 13, and the higher the number, the greater the energy efficiency of the system, which in turn translates to monthly savings in your energy bill. While an HVAC upgrade can come with a hefty cost, there are HVAC systems that can qualify for tax incentives and rebates, reducing the installation cost to even less than that of a standard system. Monthly savings begin immediately upon installation, and can help cut your AC bills by up to 40 percent.
11. Limit the Number of Times You Open the Refrigerator Door
Doug Rogers, President, Mr. Appliance
Limit the number of times you open the doors of your refrigerator. Every time you open your fridge, the temperature inside increases by several degrees. This makes the compressor work harder to maintain the inside temperature. Save energy by leaving one to two inches around the exterior of your fridge. Keep your door gaskets clean so they seal properly. A buildup of sticky foods on the gasket can require you to pull harder to open the door and eventually tear the gasket. A little warm water and a sponge will clean it right up, which can help save on repair bills and electricity.
12. Shop for Cheaper Energy
Kelly Bedrich, Co-Founder, ElectricityPlans
One easy way to save money on utilities is to shop for cheaper energy. Unfortunately, homeowners and renters often waste money by not shopping for a new electricity or natural gas supplier. If you live in a deregulated state that has energy choice, you can often significantly reduce your electric or natural gas bill. For example, in the summer months, air conditioning can account for as much as 60 percent of a home’s electric bill, especially in the south. Unfortunately, summer months are typically when electricity rates are the highest due to tightened supply and high demand. By shopping for a better electric rate, homeowners can save as much as 30 percent to 40 percent on their energy bill, which could amount to hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in savings annually.
13. Reduce Your Water Waste
Sarah Hancock, Content Marketing Manager, BestCompany.com
Overusing water in your home means that you’re wasting the energy-intensive process of filtration. You can be more eco-friendly and cut down your utility bill by reducing water waste through your daily routine. You can do this by taking shorter showers, installing a low-flow shower head, turning off the water while you brush your teeth, waiting until you have a full load before you run your dishwasher, and being careful not to over-water your lawn and garden.
14. Upgrade Your Doors & Windows to Insulated Glass Units
Larry Patterson, Franchise Owner, Glass Doctor
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, of the $2,000 the average American spends paying for energy annually, $200 to $400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks around openings, and outdated heating and cooling systems. By reducing these losses through energy efficiency upgrades, you can save money and be more comfortable. Insulated glass units are a great option to maintain the temperature in the home and keep costs down. Because of their unique design, IGUs are capable of preventing heat transfer from the summer sunshine while also keeping cool air from escaping outside, thus maintaining the desired temperature inside the home. Ultimately, your HVAC systems will run less often, saving wear and tear on these expensive components.
15. Reduce Energy Use During Peak Pricing
Andy Rittler, Communications Specialist, Oncor Electric Delivery LLC
During periods of both hot and cold weather, energy usages can increase between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Often, businesses have programmable thermostats that can help with energy efficiency. Turning those up to 75 during warmer peaks and down during cooler peaks can help both businesses and residents realize costs savings.
16. Consider Installing a Solar Panel
Stacy Caprio, Blogger, Deals Scoop
Finding ways to conserve energy or make your home more efficient is a great way to save on your energy bills. One way to do this is by installing solar panels, which are effective for saving energy since they harness the free energy of the sun, turning it into electricity or power for your home. If you live in an area that is sunny all the time, they can be a great solution. However, if you’re living somewhere such as Ireland, where the majority of days are cloudy, then you may not want to waste money installing the solar panels in your home. Consider your climate first, and if you’re in a sunny area, solar panels can be a great “free” way to get environmentally-friendly, sustainable energy.
17. Unplug Your Electronics When Not in Use
Sara Skirboll, Shopping and Trends Expert, RetailMeNot
Have you ever heard of “vampire energy”? It’s also known as standby power, which is the electricity consumed by most consumer electronic devices when they are switched off but still plugged in—that wasted electricity is costing you money. When you’re not using your TV, window unit air conditioners, computers, and even the chargers for your smaller electronic devices, make sure to unplug them for big savings.
18. Do Your Laundry & Dishes When Electric Plans Are Cheaper
Eileen Roth, Owner, Everything in its Place
Cut your electric bill by running major appliances like laundry and dishwashers when electric plans are cheaper. This is often on weekends and after 9 p.m. on weekdays. Check with your electric company’s website to be certain. With the cheapest rates so late at night, you can run pool and spa cleaning machines from midnight to 7 a.m. while you are sleeping.
19. Add a Solar Blanket to Your Pool
Elizabeth Dodson, Co-Founder, HomeZada
One great tip to save money on utilities for those who have a swimming pool is to add a solar blanket to the pool. This blanket not only warms up your pool with the sun’s natural rays, but it also requires less water to constantly fill your pool. The blanket reduces any use of gas to heat up your pool. It also reduces your water bill as less water evaporation occurs because the solar cover is keeping the water in the pool. This also great for the environment because you use less water and less electricity to keep your home running.
20. Minimize the Use of Garbage Disposals
Doyle James, President, Mr. Rooter Plumbing
Minimize your use of the garbage disposal. An in-sink garburator, which is a machine that’s primarily used to shred food waste into super-small pieces that won’t clog pipes, requires plenty of water to operate properly. Instead, you can start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can reuse compost on any plants or trees you have around the home, or share them with your neighbors.
Instead of using electricity to light your house, you may opt to take advantage of the natural light. According to BC Hydro, a single south-facing window has the ability to illuminate 20 to 100 times its area. This can save you around $9 annually. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint by turning off one 60-watt bulb for four or more hours a day.
If you want to save money on electricity, Family Money Plan suggests skipping the use of the oven for small meals. You can use a toaster oven instead, which can offer the same amount of heat for food in smaller containers at a lower cost.
Instead of using a dryer, Celebrating Financial Freedom recommends hanging up your clothes and let them air dry. Use a clothesline in summer and a drying rack inside your home in winter. This will save you money on electricity bills and also lessen your carbon footprint.
The Penny Hoarder suggests keeping an eye out for leaks in your house. Repair immediately when you find one, especially from dripping faucets or toilets. Leaks can send gallons of water—and hundreds of dollars—down the drain. Make sure to have your plumbing checked and maintained regularly to ensure it is leak-free.
According to AARP, your lawn only needs just one inch of water per week, and that includes rain. Sprinklers often deliver much more than what your lawn needs, resulting in wasted money and water.
It takes a lot of practice and self-discipline to make cutting costs a habit. If you want to save money on utilities, learn to change some of your common practices at home. You also need to invest in some upgrades to ensure your appliances are efficient and cost-effective. The above expert tips on how to save money on utilities will help you have bigger savings on your home or real estate investment.