Ways You May Be Wasting Money on Utilities

Elizabeth S. | October 14, 2019

When it comes to saving money, one of the first things I always look at is how I can reduce my cost of living. While the costs of certain monthly expenses aren’t as flexible, such as my rent or gas prices, I’ve come to realize that I have a little wiggle room when it comes to utilities. It’s pretty much a given that everyone must pay for the basics like water and electricity, but there are a variety of resources and methods which you can use to decrease your bills.

Unfortunately, many of us (including myself!) are wasting money on utility payments by paying more than we really should. But there is some good news - by changing a few simple things, you can shave a good portion off your monthly bill and watch your savings grow!

If you’re worried that this means turning off all your lights at night and using candles like it’s the 1800s, don’t be. Below are five ways you may be wasting money on your utilities, along with some simple solutions that you and your family can follow to instantly begin cutting down on utility costs.

two lightbulbs

Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs are one of the easiest ways to make a big dent in your electric bill and start seeing savings by the time your next one arrives.

When LED bulbs first hit the scene, many people were a little hesitant to use them, mainly because of the harshness of the light and having little to no control over the tone or brightness. This is no longer the case, as most LED light bulbs are available in identical wattage equivalents to fluorescent bulbs and come in traditional tones such as soft white (my personal favorite).

LED bulbs save you money in two ways. First, they last much longer than fluorescent bulbs — 20+ years in some cases! Second, they require less power to operate.

For example, a fluorescent bulb takes around $9 per year to operate, while an LED bulb takes around $3 per year. If you have 30 bulbs in your home, that’s $180 per year back in your pocket, including the money you’ll save not having to buy new bulbs as often.

Water Usage

It may seem enticing to take your time in the shower — especially on mornings when it’s hard to wake up fully — but taking shorter showers can go a long way. An eight-minute shower can use up to 30 gallons of water if you have a standard showerhead. By hopping out just a few minutes sooner, you could save up to 5-10 gallons of water! Also, if you take baths regularly, showering instead will save a ton of water in the long run.

However, saving water goes beyond just showering faster or forgoing baths. Here are a few more things you can do to cut back on water consumption:

  • Use the lowest possible setting on your washing machine.
  • Try using a water well for some of your utilities
  • Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
  • If possible, use a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes.
  • Change your toilet’s water tank fill line to a lower setting. (Angie’s List has a great guide for this in their article on minimizing toilet water waste).

hot water heater tank

Hot Water Heater Settings

Your hot water tank has a setting that lets you choose the maximum water temperature, which probably isn’t news to you. However, when you have it on a high setting, the gas constantly turns on to heat the water in the tank and maintain the temperature, whether you’re using it or not.

This can increase your gas bill, especially in the summer months when the groundwater isn’t as cold and requires less effort to heat. Take a day or two to experiment with lowering the setting to see how low it can go without letting the hot water run out — your gas bill will thank you.

(Bonus tip: If you want the water in the tank to stay hot longer on its own, consider wrapping the tank with proper hot water tank insulation.)

Leaving Computers and TVs On

We’ve all heard about turning the lights off to save money on electricity, but what about appliances? Even though modern, energy-efficient computers and televisions are way better than in years past, leaving them on can still add some extra dollars to your bill each month.

When possible, power down your desktop computers and laptops when you’re done with them, or at least use the sleep or standby settings. The same goes with your monitor and other hardware as well, and of course your television and connected devices too. You can use a power strip to make the turn off/on process easier.

Person adjusting the thermostat

Thermostat Settings

Being more strategic with your thermostat can save your money every month, regardless of the season.

Consider this: your HVAC unit consumes over one-fourth of your home’s energy usage each month! Fortunately, this can be counteracted by adjusting the settings depending on the time of day.

If your thermostat is programmable, try setting it to anywhere from 4 to 8 degrees higher or lower when you’re gone so you’re not heating or cooling an empty house. In the summer, increase the temperature if you can stay comfortable, and then decrease it at night when it’s not so hot outside. Do the opposite with the heat settings in the winter or cooler months.

Another great money-saving tip during the warmer months is using fans. While fans don’t technically cool the air, they can make it feel up to 4 degrees cooler, which allows you to raise the thermostat setting a few degrees.

If you’d like more helpful tips on saving money, budgeting, travel, and even gift ideas, be sure to check out more from the .

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