How to Reduce Utility Bills

Simple Changes to Utiliy Usage and Programs Can Result in Significant Savings When Finances are Tight

Just like an unattended oil leak in a car can eventually drain the oil, unchecked billing and usage of utilities can drain the pocketbook each month. In this part of the Budget Cutting Tips series, several different types of financial adjustments will be suggested so that people can get a handle on their utility costs. Even small adjustments here and there can add up to tangible savings each month.

The bulk of the utility expenses for most households comes from power usage. It is always a good idea to fall back on the antiquated rule of thumb to “turn off the light when you leave the room.” In reality, the savings really are only cents each month, but again the goal is to shave off a little here and there. During the winter, keep the thermostat at or around 68 degrees. It is not necessary to heat the entire home to 75 or so. Lap blankets or extra layers of clothing can always be used if necessary. Better yet, if a woodstove is available, use it to help supplement the household heating. It also is helpful to close off any rooms in the home that are not used as frequently, such as the bathrooms and bedrooms. Check the windows and doors for drafts where heat can escape. Block the drafts or make repairs as necessary. These are just a few things to watch for when it comes to reducing power usage and costs.

The next most-used utility is water. Some of the things to check for may seem trivial, but they are important to help reduce overall costs. Check for and repair water leaks from pipes, drains, faucets and outdoor hoses. Change the toilet flushing devices and the shower heads to water-saving mechanisms. Be mindful of the washing cycle of the washing machine so that only the amount of water that is needed is used for each load.

As good as all these things are, they are only the beginning of cutting utility costs. The real savings can come in the billing adjustments of the individual utility bills. Assess each bill and determine what features are truly necessary and what are not. For example, cable television may not truly be necessary, or at least not the full package. Reduce or eliminate the cable for immediate monthly savings. The same is true for both home and cell phone packages. Look over the features of each and cut any unnecessary additives.

With cell phones, be careful to stay within minutes and keep text messaging to a minimum. Have the power bill placed on “average” billing. This is when the monthly bill is based on the average monthly cost of electricity from the previous year. This makes the power bill the same each month instead of a fluctuating amount.

During times of financial difficulty, it is vital to stay up-to-date on the billing statements. Don’t just pay the bills when they come. Review them regularly to be watchful of ways to save money each month. It is all part of good stewardship, and a great way to help reduce monthly costs.

Written by: Amy Miller