Lower your summer utility bills and save more money
Summertime is fun and all until your utility bills arrive. From cranking up the AC when temperatures rise to wasting too much water on the lawn or garden, your summer habits might put a serious dent in your budget. Fortunately, this dent can be avoided if you change some of your warmer-month habits and focus more on saving rather than wasting.
“I don’t believe in being overly restrictive when it comes to saving money, because your attitude toward money affects so many other areas of your life,” says Tiffany Aliche, aka The Budgetnista. “It affects your stress level, physical health, state of mind, family dynamic, and even your work performance.” If you see money as a means to an end, you’ll have more chances of sticking to your savings goals.
Want to know where to start? Read on to find out what experts say you should do to save big on your summer utility bills.
Use time in your favor
You know how the story goes. You’re going in for a quick shower and 15 minutes later you’re still in there, fully and deeply engrossed in your thoughts while the water keeps running and running. The average shower-time lasts eight minutes and uses 75 litres. If you want to help the environment and save some money and, in the process, take a five-minute shower instead.
According to Prudential’s financial wellness advocate Tiffany Aliche, aka The Budgetnista, use a timer to track your time in the shower. “You might be surprised at how long your average shower lasts, and how easy it can be to save money on water, and the energy it takes to heat it, by simply shortening it a few minutes,” she says.
Take care of your AC
When was the last time you changed your AC filter? If you want to make sure your appliances stay in good condition and work properly, then show them some love from time to time. “I get my AC filter automatically shipped to me every 90 days during the warmer months, so that way I don’t have to think about it, I just know that’s the time to swap out my filter,” says Michael Foguth, founder of Foguth Financial Group in Brighton, Michigan.
Experts recommend having your air conditioner and furnace verified in spring and fall to make sure they are operating efficiently, money and energy-wise.
Keep your cool
It’s not rocket science but it’s often the most disregarded solution for maintaining a cool house during the day: closing the drapes and blinds.”You know how, in an airplane, they want you to lower the shades on the windows to keep it cool when you’re landing in a warm destination? Well, the same principle goes for your home, and it makes such a difference,” says New York-based debt-resolution lawyer Leslie Tayne, author of Life & Debt.
Discover your inner tech geek
“The easiest way to save on summer utility bills is to use digital technology to your advantage,” Foguth recommends. This way, you can leave your house without having to worry all night about having left the AC on. If you have the means, program your thermostat a few degrees higher during the night so you won’t feel a big difference.
As for your lights, you can use timers and remote controls to program your lights when you’re in or out of your home. Nowadays, there are all sorts of apps you can download on your smartphone to help you save energy. Speaking of smartphones, find out 11 Most Common Phone Myths You Should Stop Believing.
Pay attention to “vampire appliances”
Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with Dracula or other bloodsuckers. But it does have something to do with vampire energy, or, in other words, the energy that certain appliances consume even when they’re turned off. “Anything that you have plugged into an outlet could silently be seeping off energy without you realizing it,” warns Aliche.
Garlic won’t work in the case of these “vampires”, but plugging your appliances into an outlet strip, then unplugging the strip every night might just do the trick. “One of my clients used this piece of advice and ended up saving $30 a month,” she says.
Use water during essential times
By essential times we mean when it’s the most efficient moment to use water instead of wasting it. “You waste water when you use it during the heat of the day, because you lose a lot to evaporation,” says Foguth. Watering your lawn and garden in the morning or evening is the best way for the water to soak in where it should: the soil instead of the air.
Get rid of the dryer
“Take advantage of the warmer months to take a break from the dryer now and again,” says Tayne. This old-fashioned air-drying technique will leave your things smelling fresh and clean and your wallet untouched. According to the Saving Electricity website, by ditching the dryer and adopting this clothes-line technique, you could save around $200 a year.
If you can’t live without your dryer, at least avoid these 10 Mistakes That Shorten the Life of Your Appliances.
Turn it into a team effort
Get all your family members involved in saving on your monthly utility bills. After all, you’re not the only one using the AC!
“When I was a kid, my dad would leave the electric bill out so we could see the charges from last month and the current month,” says Aliche. “Then if we saved money month-to-month, he’d contribute to our family vacation pot. It was a way for him to engage the whole family with decisions we made throughout the house, like turning off the lights or taking shorter showers. And let me tell you: It worked!”
Prevent the shock
By shock, we refer to the one that you experience whenever you see your summer bills. How can you eliminate this unpleasant surprise? By taking advantage of the Equal Pay programs provided by many utility companies. “This way, you’re paying the same amount every month, based on your estimated annual expenses split in 12, so you can better plan ahead,” says Foguth.
Don’t hesitate to call the experts
You might not be able to identify the air and/or fuel leaks or the appliances that consume the most energy in your home. Fortunately, that’s what utility experts are for. “Take advantage of your utility company experts, and ask them how to be more energy-efficient,” suggests Tayne. “They’ll come out and take a look for you.” Find out more ways to Save Thousands Using These 34 Life Hacks!
Competition doesn’t hurt
If your high summer utility bill isn’t incentive enough to make you want to do something about it, maybe your neighbors’ utility bill is. “My utility companies show me a comparison to my neighbors in terms of how I’m doing with energy, and I’m always like, ‘why are they more efficient than I am?’ and then it becomes this competition,” Tayne says. “I’m sure I’ve saved money just from seeing how I rank with others!” What do you say? Want to keep up with the Joneses?
Accept your credit score
“Let’s face it: Having a low credit score leads to an expensive life,” says Aliche. “Even if you’re not borrowing money, even if you’re just turning on your lights, getting new cell phone service, or getting new car insurance—any situation where you’re going to be making regular payments—credit does matter.”
Buying an old home can require many improvements. For example, Aliche was advised by a contractor to install insulation. 2,500 dollars’ worth of insulation.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,’ but he said, ‘It’s going to be worth its weight in gold,’ and he was right,” she says. “Before we even moved in, our heating bill was up to $500 a month. As soon as we insulated, our bill went down to $102 the next month. Now it’s under $120 monthly. Think about the lifetime savings of that simple step. That’s why I tell people not to be afraid of a big up-front cost because it will usually pay off—sometimes surprisingly so!”
To save even more, check out these 11 Money Secrets Financial Experts Want You to Know ASAP.