Little Known Ways to Save on Utility Bills

Utility bills can quickly add up over time. Any single action may not have a huge effect on the overall cost, but as the year wears on, a person can easily lose a lot of money to the electric, water or gas company. Not only are utilities expensive, they also eat up valuable natural resources. Here are a few tips to conserving energy to live a greener and more affordable lifestyle:

  1. Unplugging appliances really does help. If a device has a clock or is battery-operated, it will draw power even if it’s turned off. In fact, some appliances actually use 40 percent of their total electricity when they’re not in use. Some people think this is an old wives tale, but it’s not. To save power, you can unplug these devices when you’re not using them. You can also purchase a smart power strip that will stop appliances from drawing electricity when they’re shut off.
  2. Water your plants in the early morning. By watering your grass or gardens in the early morning, before the sun fully rises, you can water more thoroughly without the moisture evaporating under the sunlight. You can also cut back your lawn watering to once a week in many cases. Check your grass every day; if it springs back easily after being pushed down, it probably doesn’t need to be watered.
  3. Install faucet aerators. These gadgets attach to your existing bathtub and sink faucets and can reduce your water usage by up to 75 percent. Because the device works by blending air with the water, you don’t sacrifice water pressure. What most people don’t realize is that these devices are some of the most affordable money-saving devices you can install in your home, with each one costing under $3.
  4. Paint your roof white. Houses with white roofs require 40 percent less energy to keep cool in the summer, translating to major savings on utilities. As an added bonus, the elastomeric coating will help to protect your roof and make it more water resistant as well. You can buy a can at most home improvement or hardware stores and apply it with a regular paint roller put on an extension rod.
  5. Plant shrubs around your house for shade and insulation. Plants provide privacy and insulation to your home. It’s obvious that shade cools your body, but few people think about how a shade can keep their homes cool as well. The shade from trees and shrubs can help keep your house cool in the summer and even improves your property value. As an added bonus, you may be able to grow herbs or plant fruit trees; not only will these keep your house shaded, they’ll produce food that you can use in your home. Rosemary is a particularly hardy herb that can grow very large once planted
  6. Turn off your oven a few minutes before baked goods are finished. Keep the door closed and allow the residual heat to finish cooking the food. Also be sure that you keep the oven door closed while cooking so that you don’t allow heat to escape. In the winter, leave the oven door open after you’ve finished baking; this will spread the leftover heat throughout the house and add some extra warmth to your home.
  7. Turn down your hot water heater. This is one of those no-brainers people often forget. If you’re able to, reduce your hot water heater to 120 degrees instead of the usual 140 or higher. You don’t really need scalding-hot water for most applications throughout the home, and turning down the heat can drastically decrease your bill. Just be sure that your dishwasher has an additional heating element that can raise the heat up to 140, which is the temperature dishes need to reach to kill microbial organisms.

Oil prices play a role in determining the cost of all utilities. Until gas prices become more reasonable, it’s important to save money any way that you can on your utility bill. Living a sustainable green lifestyle is the first step to taking control of your finances and having a more responsible relationship with your planet.