A major expense in most household budgets is utilities (e.g., electricity, gas, water and sewer, landline and cell phone, and internet/cable.). The highest utility cost is typically heating and cooling a home.
Fall weather in most of the U.S. means increasing costs over the next six months for home heating. COVID-19 will increase these costs because many families are spending more time working and/or learning from home.
Average households spend $2,060 for utilities but costs vary widely according to the size of a home, climate, and utility usage patterns. Regardless of what you pay for utilities, there are ways to pay less.
Consider these 10 money-saving ideas to reduce ongoing utility costs and to prepare for the cold weather months ahead:
¨ Lower Your Thermostat- Dial down the thermostat slightly when you are at home to save on home heating bills. Even one degree lower can make a difference
¨ Caulk and Weatherstrip- Seal the bottom of doors and around windows to prevent cold air from entering. Home improvement stores sell supplies that will pay for themselves over the winter.
¨ Lighten Up- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps that use less energy and last years longer. Shop around and stock up on light bulbs when stores have sales.
¨ Blanket Your Water Heater- Install insulation to reflect heat back into your water heater. Also insulate water pipes. Your utility provider may be able to provide specific guidance.
¨ Turn Things Off- Stop using “phantom” energy when appliances are on standby. When computers, printers, and electronics are not being used, turn them off completely with a power strip.
¨ Plug the Leaks- Add insulation behind electrical outlets and light switch plates. While these spaces are small, they can be a source of heat loss. Again, consult a home improvement store.
¨ Look for the Label- Look for the Energy Star rating and read Energy Guide labels when replacing major appliances such as a refrigerator or dish washer. This will give you a feel for the long-term cost of using various appliances.
¨ Watch Your Wash- Wash lightly soiled laundry in warm water, adjust water levels to match load size, and wash full loads. Also, do not over-dry clothes and clean the lint filter in your dryer.
¨ Slow the Flow- Repair leaky faucets and install low flow showerheads to reduce your water bill. Two other suggestions are to consider short showers and run full dishwasher loads.
¨ Insulate Your Attic- Add ceiling insulation to cut home heating bills. Check the suggested amount of insulation for your area. Be sure to insulate any pull-down attic doors or hatches and put a winter cover on whole house fans.