Have you ever found yourself in a constant battle with your spouse over the thermostat? Does your roommate take hour-long steam-filled showers? Are you leaving the TV on all day, so your pets don’t feel so alone while you’re at work?
If you’re the one paying for the utilities, you’ve probably seen these reflected in your monthly bill.
If you’re renting your home, you might not have the liberty to install a new ceiling fan or programmable thermostat, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to save on your bills. Here are some tips and tricks to lowering your monthly utility bill.
How to Save on Your Electric Bill
Don’t meddle with the thermostat
If you’re micromanaging your thermostat, it could be costing you. Adjusting the temperature from hot to cold or cold to hot causes your air conditioner and furnace to continually be turning off and on — causing them to run inefficiently.
Say it’s a cold winter day and upon arriving home you turn your thermostat up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Your furnace turns on, heats the apartment and then shuts off. You still feel a bit chilly and raise the temperature a few degrees. The furnace has to use more energy to turn back on and continue heating your home.
The longer you leave your furnace or air conditioning running, the more cost-efficient they will be.
Don’t heat and cool an empty home
On the contrary, some people leave their heater or cooler on all day. While having the air conditioning on longer while your home is beneficial, there’s no need to cool down the house if no one is there to enjoy it. According to ENERGY STAR, leaving your thermostat at the same setting may be costing you up to $180 per year.
It’s recommended that if you’re going to be out of the house for at least 6 to 8 hours, set your thermostat five to eight degrees higher in the summer and ten to fifteen degrees lower in the winter. When you get home, turn the thermostat up to your desired temperature.
Invest in a fan
While installing a ceiling fan isn’t possible for many tenants, there is still hope for a cooler, cost-efficient home. You can purchase a pedestal fan, tower fan, bladeless fan, or a window fan as an alternative. If you’re lucky enough to have a ceiling fan, use it to your advantage. While most people think of fans as solely a way to cool off in the summer, changing the direction it spins can give your AC or heating unit a much-needed break.
A ceiling fan rotating counterclockwise will push cold air down and create a wind-chill effect.
In the wintertime, your ceiling fan should be rotating clockwise. The updraft will push the warm air down and make the room feel warmer.
Do utilize seasonality
The season can determine whether you are blasting the air conditioning or cranking up the thermostat. However, instead of solely relying on technology to regulate the temperature of your home, why not give mother nature a chance?
During the spring, open up a window and let that spring breeze cool down your home.
Fall is a great time to crack open those blinds and let the sunshine naturally heat your home.
Optimize your window coverings
Using mother nature to help heat and cool your apartment works great during the more mild-mannered months, you’ll want a little more temperature regulation during the extreme winter and summer months.
To keep your home cool during the summer, keep the blinds and curtains shut throughout the day. This will block out any heat coming in through the windows.
If you live in a region with extreme winters, consider adding a plastic window covers. The film will help stop drafty windows from letting in cold air.
Use dryer balls
Throwing a few dryer balls in with your laundry can cut drying time by up to 25 percent. While you can get dryer balls in all shapes and sizes, the theory on how they work is the same. Having a few dryer balls in with your laundry will keep the clothes from clumping together, as the balls retain heat, they will accelerate the drying process, reducing the time your laundry takes to dry.
Unplug while you’re gone
The amount of technology in our homes is very likely the culprit of our increasing electric bills. Leaving your television, lamps, computers, and other electronics plugged in while you’re not using them doesn’t mean you’re not using energy. A phantom load is the electricity that is consumed by an electronic appliance while it is off (or in standby mode). A phantom load powers the clocks on your stove and microwave; it allows your television to power up quickly when you push the power button; it keeps your internet running.
Now it can be annoying to constantly be unplugging your electronic devices every time you leave the house. The best way to get into the habit and kick those phantom load charges to the curb is to start by unplugging your electronics while you’re out on vacation. If no one is using the lamps, computer, or television, then save some money and unplug.
How to Save On Your Water Bill
Don’t overwater the lawn
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it’s been estimated that “50 percent of the water we use goes to waste from evaporation, wind, or runoff due to overwatering” and homes with an automatic sprinkler system us about 50 percent more water than those without them.
Avoid overwatering by talking to your local utility company. They should be able to offer advice and recommendations for how much water you’ll need and the best time to water. Another way to avoid overwatering your lawn is to check your property for broken, clogged, or leaky sprinkler heads.
An easy way to find out if your lawn is getting enough water is to step on it. If the grass springs back into an upright position, then it doesn’t need to be watered.
Don’t run partial loads
An older washer uses approximately 40 to 45 gallons of water per load. The average American family washes around 300 loads of laundry each year. Think about how much water is wasted if you’re only putting in a couple of t-shirts. Waiting until you have a full load will significantly reduce the amount of energy and water consumption.
Likewise, save on your water bill by only starting the dishwasher once it’s packed full of dirty dishes.
Don’t hand wash the dishes
The average dishwasher uses about 6 gallons of water per cycle. A European study found that on average people who washed the dishes by hand used about 13 gallons of water (just another reason this makes it onto the list of our least favorite chores).
Take shorter showers
One of the simplest ways to save on your water bill is to reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower. While a nice long, hot shower sounds great at the end of the day, reducing your shower by a couple of minutes can save you around a $100 annually.
You might also want to turn down the hot water when you’re showering. According to The Simple Dollar, the water heater is a significant energy drain and accounts for about 14 percent of energy costs. Turning down the thermostat on the water heater and installing a water heater blanket will save energy, which in turn saves you money. Remembering to dial your water heater down even further when you leave for a vacation is another great way to get more energy savings.
Repair leaky faucets
Examine all the faucets in your home. While a leaky faucet might not seem like much, HomeSelfe states that a faucet that leaks one drop of water per second can waste over 2,000 gallons of water in a year.
How to Save On Your Cable Bill
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
When it comes to getting the best deal on a cable package, you can often negotiate your way to a better deal. Whether your contract is up or you want to upgrade your plan, talk to your the retention department. If you’re a new customer, you might want to name drop the competition. Most companies would rather onboard or keep their customers than lose them to their competitors.
Negotiating doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to try. You could only get $10 off per month, or you could get $100 off, either way, that money is going back into your pocket.
Don’t switch providers or cancel on impulse
If you’re fed up with your current satellite TV provider, canceling your contract right then and there may cost you. Most satellite TV companies will charge a $20 or $30 fee for each month left on your contract.
Before you decide to switch cable providers, make sure to do your research. Several companies are notorious for enticing clients with extremely low prices, but when your two-year contract ends, the prices will skyrocket. You may also run into a number of startup and installation fees, which can quickly add up if you’re not careful.
Don’t let unexpected fees slide
Many consumers put their cable bill on auto-pay and assume everything is okay. What they don’t realize is that they might be paying for a few extra features they don’t need. Some fees are unavoidable but others can easily be removed if you’re willing to tweak your plan.
If you have any questions, call your provider and ask about each individual charge.
Write down your most-watched channels
Even though you can get over 300 channels, doesn’t mean you should. If you want to save around $40 to $50 per month, consider a cable package that only includes your must-have channels. DISH offers the Flex Pack™, an à la carte TV pack that allows you to customize your channel lineup. While DIRECTV and Comcast don’t offer a specific à la carte package, they both offer a few extra channels (which can be added to any existing package).
Reduce the number of cable boxes
Do you watch TV in your bedroom, living room, and kitchen? Having multiple cable boxes in your home is significantly adding to your monthly cable bill. Most cable and satellite TV companies will charge an extra $5 to $15 per cable box. Narrow down which rooms you’re consistently watching TV in and pare down to only one or two. You’ll be surprised that watching your cable bill go down is just as much fun (if not more) as watching Game of Thrones.
Bundle your cable and internet
You can save a substantial amount if you decide to bundle your cable, internet, and phone services. Stand-alone cable or internet services often cost the same, maybe even more, than a bundled package. If you ask the right questions, you can also get some cable and satellite companies to throw in a few extra incentives — perhaps they’ll throw in some premium channels or they’ll upgrade your internet speed.
However, bundled deals aren’t for everyone. If you’re only planning on using the internet for answering emails and keeping up with the news, then you don’t want to be paying for the phone and TV services. Remember, it’s only a good deal if you actually plan on using the services.
Sign up for automatic payments
In order to get the lowest advertised price, you might want to take a look at the fine print. Many TV packages will charge you $5 to $10 more if you’re not signed up for automatic payments. While it isn’t difficult to sign up, many consumers forget this step and end up paying an extra $60 to $120 each year.
When it comes to monthly expenses, many homeowners and tenants assume their utility bill is as good as they can get it. However, with some research, a few phone calls, a short conversation with your roommates, and a few lifestyle changes here and there, you can save hundreds each month.