- Personal Finance
Frugal Tips toReduce Utility Bills
Trimming your utility bills
You may be surprised at what you can trim off your utility bills! I can hear the sighs and groans now, "Oh I've hear that same old advice about insulating and efficiency before" or"I don't want to caulk, etc.". Well, news for you. That's not the only way to reduce your utility bills. There are some non-labor intensive methods to help you cut back your monthly expenses.
Let's consider each utility bill that most of us have to deal with. Water, electricity, natural/propane gas,phone, internet, television ,cell phone should about cover most of us except maybe those that have a trash and sewer bill, which I think in most areas it is a set amount.
The water bill can be reduced, first by checking for and addressing any leaks in your system. A drip in just one faucet can make a big difference in your annual expense. We could all probably benefit from little adjustments in our daily routines. Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth, rinse all your dishes at the same time rather than leaving the tap running, wash only full loads of laundry, shave off just a minute from your shower, when shaving turn the tap off until needed, while waiting for that minute or two before rinsing out your hair conditioner use that time to shave your legs, pumice your feet, or address other areas. If you use one or all of these tips I know you'll see a reduction in your water bill.
Electricity is probably the biggest utility bill for most households. Besides insulating and checking for drafts there are at least a few options to help reduce the monthly bill. If you are not watching the tv or using the computer turn it off. I know, it sounds so silly, but I think many of us are guilty of leaving on the tv or other appliance for no real good reason. If your heat is electric, turn it down. No, I don't want to freeze you out. Just turn it back 2-3 degrees, you won't even notice. Also, remember to turn it way back when you are leaving the house for more than just an hour or so. Same thing for the summer season with the a/c, just set the temp 2-3 degrees higher.Don't leave the porch light on all night, turn it on only when needed. If you are the sort that always forgets, just put a timer on it. Use solar lights for the yard or walkway or around the porch/deck. If you haven't already changed over to the more efficient light bulbs in your house, then as each one burns out replace it with the new curly bulb. And don't forget to turn the lights off when you leave a room.
The gas bill may be one that is hard to trim back on, but there are ways to shave a bit off the bill. It depends on what you have that works on gas. If it is the hot water heater the easiest cut back would be to just turn back the temperature setting by just a few degrees. If this is your home's heat source then the same rule would apply as with electric heat, just back it down a couple of degrees.The only other appliance I can think of that might be on gas would be the clothes dryer. To use this most efficiently, follow the manufacturers guide and use the settings according to the type of clothes you are drying. In other words, don't use the high setting for something that will dry just fine on a medium to low heat.
The phone, internet, tv, and cell I will address altogether, since some companies offer all of these services in one package. Get only what you need and will use. The company will offer you all the bells and whistles package and tell you how much you will save by getting them all and this is a "special" price for you "today only". Sound familiar? If you don't need or don't use all those bells and whistles why would you want to pay for them?Look over your past bills and see how many minutes you are actually using on the cell or how much long distance minutes were used on your home phone. Then, find the best plan for your use. Same thing for the tv, how many of those 300 channels can or will you actually watch? As for the internet provider, shop around and compare, get the best deal for "what you will use".Try bargaining with them, you might be surprised and get a better deal just by asking for a better rate.
Another tip for everyone out there regardless of the type of utility, check your bills. Compare each month with the previous. I know this will take a few minutes each month, but if you find out you are being charged too much, isn't it worth a few minutes of your time? I found extra charges on my phone bills after being neglectful of checking the charges each month. I didn't understand what some of the charges were for so I called the company and asked what it was. I was told they were added to my bill by the company (at their discretion)and if I didn't want it then all I had to do was call to cancel it. Now, this was for six months of charges and there were four extra services added at from $4 to $6 each. That's an extra $120 for that six months! I demanded credit on my current bill for all of those charges and cancelled all of those services (plus the phone company). This is not to vent, but to show you that it pays to be diligent and keep watch on those bills. I'm sure most over charged bills are not so sneaky as mine was, but mistakes happen and it is up to us to be mindful of our bills. Maybe it was just a misreading of the meter by your utility reader, it happens, but as for me, I'm going to read those bills closely.