You can’t avoid them but try to minimize them
Electric bills: You have to pay to power up
- Install LED light bulbs in all sockets
- Turn off lights in rooms not in, fans off and TV off (conservation)
- Get energy efficient appliances when you replace them (Energy Star)
- Don’t run dishwasher until it is full
- Run laundry for full loads, maybe run at night when energy cost is less
- Turn off portable heaters in rooms you are not in
- Ask if you really need a second fridge or chest freezer in the garage. Can you just turn it on for parties and then turn it back off? Fridges and freezers use a lot of power.
Heating: Save $50 to $75 per month
- Crank down the heat to 68 or 67 F in the winter. Wear a sweatshirt or sweater in the winter. A few degrees cooler can save you big cash.
- Keep curtains and blinds down to keep heat in
- Change your furnace filter every 90 days to keep it running efficiently if you have forced air heating. They are cheap as in $5 to $10 each. Clogged filters result in your breathing in more dust but also cause the blower motor in your furnace to work harder. When the motor works harder it uses more power and heat is not efficiently circulated causing you to pay more each month.
- You also don’t want your furnace to break in the middle of winter like mine did. The previous owner of this property rarely changed them so the motor was full of dust and died leaving behind a burning metallic smell and me with a $600 repair bill. I also had to run space heaters all weekend which cost a $150! As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
- When buying these furnace filters don’t go overboard and buy the HEPA or allergy filters. They are just going to cost $15 instead of $5 and cause your furnace to work harder leading to premature wear and less efficient heating = more money spent.
Cooling: Save $100 per month or more
- Try Natural Cooling: Open your windows at night to let the cool air in and the hot air out. During the day close the windows and blinds the keep the cool air in. You can also use a box fan to speed the cooling process down.
- Air conditioning: Use only when needed as a supplement to natural cooling. This is the real money saver as AC uses lots of electricity.
- Try window units to cool the room you are in versus the whole house with a central AC unit that consumes more power. This may work well for say a bedroom.
- Crank up the temp! You don’t need for it to be 68 F in the summer. Wear shorts and enjoy the nice temps. It will be winter soon so enjoy it now. I suggest setting the temp at 78 to 80F, meaning as hot as you can bear it in the summer.
Water and Sewer Bills: Don’t send your money down the drain!
- Water bills/sewer bills: Reduce flow and usage via efficient shower heads. You can buy them at the hardware store for $20 and they pay for themselves relatively fast.
- Fix that leaky toilet. If you have a leaky flapper valve you are literally flushing your money away as water you are paying for is leaking down the drain. Replace that flapper valve for $8.
- Install a low flow toilet that uses less water. This is a bigger investment but might be worth it if you have the old six gallon per flush type. You want the 1.6 gallon per flush type. If you don’t have the money for that you can always reduce the water level in the tank by adjusting it on the tank filler level by screwing it to a lower level. Or use old school method of a brick in the tank.
- Don’t water your lawn or plants unless necessary. This uses a lot of water and it’s ok to have brown grass in the summer. Besides you are being eco and earth friendly if someone gives you crap about it.
Water heaters cost money too
- Try washing the laundry with tap cold water instead of warm or hot water. This will save you money on hot water heating. Most detergents now are so good it won’t matter much.
- Turn the water heater down a bit too. You don’t want the water always being heated and scalding as that costs money.
- Take reasonable length showers and turn down the temp a bit. That will make things go faster, use less hot water and water in total.