home ownership saving money

Easy Ways to Lower Utility Bills

Utility bills can account for a large portion of your monthly home budget. In fact, all of the utility bills combined can add up to more than your mortgage payment.  What’s worse is that they can fluctuate when it’s colder or hotter outside, making them higher than usual.  But there are some ways to cut back on your usage so you can bring those bills down.  These ideas are simple changes you can make to put more money back in  your pocket.

Save on Electricity

Only wash full loads. Washing a small load has the same electric usage as a large load. If you do have to wash a small load, like delicates, adjust the water level setting to make sure you’re not filling the washer with more water than you need.

Hang your clothes to dry. Heavy items like towels and sweaters take a long time to dry in the dryer, using a lot of electricity.  Hanging your wash on a clothes line saves electricity, lowering your monthly bill.  If you don’t have an outdoor clothesline though, dry your sheets in the dryer as they don’t dry well inside.

When using the dryer, dry lightweight clothes and heavy clothes separately. The lightweight ones will dry faster, allowing you to turn the dryer off sooner. Since towels are heavy on their own, it’s best to dry them by themselves to finish the load sooner.

In the winter, divert your dryer heat vent back inside so that it warms your house instead of the outdoors.

Save on Heating & Air

Turn off the heat or air conditioner during the day. When no one is home, it doesn’t make sense to waste electricity cooling or heating the house.  It doesn’t take long to cool or warm it back up when you get home.  You may even want to turn it off while you sleep, using a ceiling fan to keep you cool or an electric blanket to warm you up.

In cold weather, keep the thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature. For every degree you can lower it, you’ll save up to 5% of your heating bill. Use the opposite approach in warm weather, raising the thermostat to make your home comfortable but not cold.

Save on Water

If you use your dishwasher, only run a full load. The dishwasher uses the same amount of hot water and electricity to wash a small load as a full one. If you’ve pre-rinsed your dishes, a light wash cycle can save you 2/3 of the water usage over a full cycle. Turn off the heat dry and open the door to let the steam escape then let your dishes air dry to save you electricity.

Large pots and platters take up a lot of space in the dishwasher, requiring you to wash more loads. Wash them by hand instead. Fill one basin with soapy water and one with clear hot water so that you can wash and rinse without running the water.

Wash your clothes in cold water. If you have items that need to be washed in hot water, set them aside until you have a full load. Not only will you save hot water, it’s also better for your clothes.

Take quick showers and skip the hot bath. Use a timer to help you get in and out of the shower faster. Or create a playlist of your favorite songs that is only 7-10 minutes long so you know when you need to be done. Every minute you’re in the shower averages 4 gallons of hot water, so an 8-minute shower uses about 32 gallons of water. Cutting back on your shower time can significantly lower your water bill.

Lowering your utility bills doesn’t take a lot of work; it just requires you to be more conscious of what you’re using.  Once you start creating these new habits, they’ll soon become second-nature and your utility bills will start to come down.

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About the author

Emilie Burke

Emilie is a politics-major turned data engineer. She graduated from Princeton University in 2015 and from Smartly with her MBA in 2016. She lives in North Carolina with her college sweetheart Casey who is currently stationed at Fort Bragg. She enjoys eating food, cuddling with her dog, and binge watching HGTV. She blogs at Burke Does. You can find her around the web at @emilielimaburke.

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