How to Minimize Your Utility Payments

Among the many financial obligations you can count on in life are transportation costs and utility bills.

 

The often unpredictable cost of gasoline for your vehicle may be out of your hands, but you can somewhat control your monthly utility bill costs. According to 2016 statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average monthly amount paid in residential U.S. homes for electricity alone was $112.59. That average is expensive enough.

Factors like your geographic location and the time of year can easily cause your electric bill to be above average. When you also factor in the costs of other household utilities, such as gas and water, you may easily find yourself paying hundreds of dollars per month for utilities. It may feel like your utility bills are hopelessly high, but savvy strategies can help you fight back against your mounting costs. The tips below will help you learn how to minimize your utility payments.

Seal Your Home as Much as Possible

It is impossible to make your home completely airtight. However, any unsealed areas are locations where indoor and outdoor air can be exchanged. As the exchange of air takes place, you will lose cooled air in the summer and heated air in the winter. Therefore, your heating and cooling systems will have to work harder to regulate the temperature in your home. You must do what you can to seal as many of those areas as possible, if you want to minimize your bills.

Begin by insulating your home. According to the experts at Energy Star, 20 percent of your cooling and heating costs can be saved by properly insulating your house. One common place where insulation may be missing is the attic. You can install fiberglass insulation in your attic yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Some companies can use a large device to blow the insulation into the attic, which allows the insulation to get into areas that the large rolls cannot reach. Then check other parts of your home, such as crawl spaces, to make sure they are properly insulated.

Other areas where your home may be losing air include windows and doors, but insulation will not help you in those areas. Instead, you can use beads of caulk to seal thin cracks around window sills and frames. Installing weather stripping on doors leading to the outside of your home will also help to eliminate drafts. Also, make sure you get properly insulated seals for your outlet switch plates, since air can escape through outlets as well. Do not insulate around outlets with standard fiberglass insulation. Special fireproof insulation is required in such areas.

Wash Dishes and Clothing Efficiently

Washing dishes and clothing efficiently can reduce your energy bill and your water bill. If you have a dishwasher, running it when it is completely full is the most energy-efficient strategy. However, you need to be selective about the types of dishes you wash in it. Large pots and pans will fill it quickly, causing you to waste a lot of energy to wash a few items. Therefore, those items should be washed by hand.

Washing clothing efficiently works in a similar way. Always run full loads of laundry to minimize energy waste. Also, set your washing machine to use cold water whenever possible. There are a number of detergents on the market now that are specifically designed to work very well in cold water. When energy is not used to heat the water, your laundry washing process will be far more energy-efficient. Also, avoid running your dryer whenever you can, especially in the summer. Your dryer will use a lot of energy and heat up the surrounding area, which will reduce your air conditioning efficiency. Instead, use a rack or clothesline to air-dry each load.

Adjust Your Cooking Habits

Heating your oven to cook one small item takes a lot of time. It also wastes a lot of energy. Additionally, using your oven too much in the summer will heat up your home when you are trying to cool it down. If you heat your oven, make sure you cook a large enough amount of food to make the process worth the expense. When you only need to heat one small item, use a smaller appliance. A toaster oven or a microwave can be used to heat most foods you would cook in your oven faster, requiring with less energy consumption. Consider using your outdoor grill more in the summer.

 

Reduce Water Usage in Your Home

If your home is like many others in the United States, you must pay for your water. You must also pay a separate bill for the energy used to heat it. Therefore, using less water and using cold water instead of hot water when possible can reduce both utility bills. One way to reduce your water consumption is to take shorter showers. You can also use a low-flow showerhead to reduce the amount of water used, even if you keep the lengths of your showers the same.

It is also important to shut faucets off when you are not using them. For example, you may be prone to leaving the water running while you brush your teeth. You can save water and reduce your utility costs by only turning the faucet on when you need to rinse your tooth brush. To save even more water, fill a small cup with water and use it to rinse your brush. Use a similar tactic when hand-washing dishes or rinsing them before loading the dishwasher. Fill a dish pan or plug and fill your sink basin. Turn the faucet on only as needed during the rinsing process.

Unplug Your Kitchen Appliances and Electronics When Not in Use

Electronics and kitchen appliances are notorious for continuing to use power, even when they not on. Energy usage incidents that occur when appliances are off are called phantom loads. Those energy-draining phantom loads can often consume more energy than the amount consumed when the appliances are turned on. The energy use occurs because many devices continue to perform certain processes while dormant. For example, your microwave may constantly display the time, even when you are not using it to heat food. You can unplug individual appliances when they are not in use or connect several appliances to a power strip and turn the power strip off by pressing a single button, as needed.

 

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