These days, everyone is looking for ways to trim expenses. Whether your income has been affected by the pandemic, or you’re simply looking to save more and spend less, there are some easy ways to reduce your spending and put more money back in your pocket.
Some of the most common advice for trimming expenses is likely to be stuff you’re already doing. Thanks to the pandemic, you’re probably already eating out less, drinking fewer lattes, and spending less on gas for your car. Given that there may not be much more to cut there, it’s time to find other expenses, and utilities are the next area where you can make changes without too much sacrifice.
So what are considered utilities? Generally speaking, electricity, gas, and water are the biggest expenses, but telephone, internet, and cable are also considered utilities. Depending on where you live, you may also be paying for trash removal, sewer, security, and more. Essentially, utilities are considered basic necessities and are vital to keeping your home and family safe, sanitary, and functional. And with the exception of cell phone and internet service, you aren’t likely to have the option to shop around for the best price, as you’re limited to the specific providers serving your area.
This doesn’t mean you need to break the bank every month just to keep the lights on. A few simple changes can shave quite a bit from the bill, and you might not even notice the sacrifice.
Lower the Thermostat
You don’t need to freeze, but there’s very little difference between 70 degrees and 68 degrees — except when it comes to your bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every eight hours you lower your thermostat by one degree, you shave 1 percent off your bill. Consider installing a programmable smart thermostat to better regulate the temperature inside; this way, you won’t be paying heating or cooling when you don’t need to.
Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
Most of the energy that your washing machine uses goes toward heating the water, so unless you absolutely need to use hot water, wash your clothing in cold water instead. Many detergent manufacturers have developed cold water-friendly soaps, so you don’t need to worry about your garments not getting clean or not rinsing all the soap out. As a bonus, washing in cold water reduces shrinking and fading, so your clothes look new longer. Toss a few wool dryer balls in the dryer to help reduce drying time — or better yet, hang your clothes outside to dry and save electricity.
Replace Your Air Filter
Dirty air filters in the furnace or HVAC system can cause the system to work harder and use more energy, costing you more money. Ideally, filters should be changed at least every 90 days, but may need more frequent changes if you have pets or smokers in your home. A clean air filter allows air to flow freely through the system, helping it maintain efficiency.
Use Your Dishwasher Properly
Running your dishwasher when it’s only half-full helps get the chores done, but uses more energy. Keep your water and power bills manageable by only running the dishwasher when it’s full. Set the washer to only clean the dishes, and as soon as the cycle is done, open the door to allow them to air dry. You’ll save energy and still have sparkling clean plates and glasses. To save even more, run the dishwasher overnight; use the timer function to delay the cycle until the middle of the night, when rates are the lowest. The same goes for your washing machine. Set the timer to wash your clothes just before you wake up. You can toss them in the dryer in the early morning, missing the peak rate hours.
Only Pay for What You Watch
With so many streaming channel options, it can be tempting to subscribe to all of them. But combined with cable, your monthly entertainment bill can skyrocket to well over $100 per month or more — and who has time for all that streaming. Keep a log of what you actually watch, and dump anything you aren’t using. If you tend to watch mostly local channels, you don’t need to subscribe to cable, either. A powerful antenna can receive signals from your local stations, without the need to pay for a subscription.
Check Your Bandwidth
Speaking of streaming, you may be paying for more bandwidth than you need from your internet provider, costing you big bucks. If you are a gamer or you regularly download movies or large files, then paying for more speed and bandwidth may be necessary. But if you mostly use the internet for social media, email, and looking up recipes on Pinterest, you can probably get away with a less expensive service.
Just making these small changes to how you use your utilities can mean big savings on your bills over time. It might only be a few dollars here and there, but those dollars can add up — and in many cases, you’re also helping conserve resources as well. Best of all? After a few weeks, you probably won’t even notice these changes.