- Personal Finance
Big Ways to Cut the Utility Bill
When (or if) you make the decision to have one parent stay at home, you will most likely have to take a serious look at your finances and budget. Cutting out little splurges here and there will add up, but if you really want to make serious changes to your spending, you need to evaluate the heavy hitters. For us, that meant the utility bill.
Now, I’m not going to waste time telling you to turn the lights out when you leave the room. Because honestly, that’s not going to make that big of a difference (I know this from months of trial and error…). If you want to seriously cut your utility bill, you need to make some serious changes.
Here are some big ways to cut your utility bill:
If You Can Live Without It, You Should
We live in an era of automation, so a lot of the time we forget about the things that are constantly running in the background. If you have a device or appliance that is running full-time, ask yourself whether you can live without it. Because if you can, you should disconnect it immediately. Anything that runs full-time will use up an immense amount of energy. We had an extra refrigerator that we used pretty frequently, but when it really came down to it, we knew we could make adjustments to just use one. By disconnecting that one appliance, we cut out utility bill by 25%! That was a big deal for us - and honestly, we soon realized we didn't even need it! Other devices to consider are air filters, fans, computers, and even coffee machines.
By cutting out our extra refrigerator, we cut our utility bill by 25%
Don't Cool an Empty House
When you are home, its tough to skimp on heating and air conditioning if it’s going to make you uncomfortable. But when you’re not home, you’re literally just blowing money out of your vents.
If you’re gone for work, the weekend, or a vacation, turn your heat and air conditioning to the absolute bare minimum. In the winter, you need to be careful that your pipes won’t freeze, so don’t go crazy - many people recommend not going lower than 65. But in the summer you really don’t have any reason to be cooling off the house, so consider just turning the air off while you’re gone.
You probably heard this time and again from your parents, but if not I’ll be the first to tell you - “Don’t heat the neighborhood!”
Now, usually this is said when you carelessly leave a window open after turning the heat on, but it's also true if you aren't properly insulated. In fact, it can have the very same effect.
There are lots of pretty simple DIY ways to insulate your house, so don't make the assumption that this is a huge undertaking. Start with the most obvious place to insulate - the attic. This is the place that typically releases most of your heat.
Another common culprit is a crawl space. If your floors feel chilly, then you're probably losing heat through them.
Upgrade Your Windows
Yes, it will cost you to replace the windows, but the amount you save in your utility bill will more than pay for it (and it actually increases the value of your home as well). Windows are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to heat sneaking out of the house.
If you want to avoid the cost of new windows, consider purchasing extra window insulation, especially if you have windows where you can literally feel a draft. Most are easy to install and can be removed when you don't want them anymore.
High-efficiency appliances have 1 sole purpose - to cut your energy usage. The problem with these appliances is usually that they are relatively expensive. However, this is where you need to get creative - look into tax credits, rebates, or subsidies. Depending on what state you live in you may be surprised to find that you can get these appliances fairly cheaply.