When it comes to saving money, a great place to start is to lower your utility bills. Utility bills are monthly recurring expenses for things like electricity, water, internet and phone. Since you generally have to pay them every single month, finding ways to reduce them can really save you a lot of money throughout the year.
Most people spend at least a few hundred dollars on their utility bills each month. Here in Texas we pay an ungodly amount in August and September when it gets the hottest!
We have to keep the A/C running day and night, and I always worry what that August electric bill is going to look like.
While you may not be able to cut utility bills out entirely, here are some ways you can try to minimize them.
There are two main ways you can reduce your electricity bill.
The first way is to get in the habit of reducing your electricity usage.
Try to identify what things are using the most electricity in your home.
Is it the A/C? The TV?
Maybe the fridge?
The other way you may be able to reduce your electricity bill is to shop around and look for electric companies that provide the lowest rate.
I know that in a lot of places in the US, you only get one choice for your electric company.
BUT if you DO live in a place where there are multiple electric companies to choose from, I encourage you check and compare rates about every 6 months.
Turn the lights off during the day.
Hang your clothes up to dry instead of using a dryer. My favorite method is to use a portable clothes rack.
I just hang the washed clothes up with hangers and let them dry! Mine has wheels on the bottom so I can move it around the house easily. Air-drying clothes eliminates the need to buy a dryer, cuts out the cost of electricity to run the dryer, and help your clothes last longer since they are not getting aggressively tumble-dried or shrunk.
I also like to use tension rods (like the kind you use for a shower curtain) and hang the clothes on hangers. You can use them indoors and outdoors. I prefer this kind as they are strong enough even to hold up a wet weighted blanket (link).
Close the blinds or curtains if you want to keep the house cool, and keep them open to let the sunlight in if you want to keep the house warm.
Keep your fridge and freezer full if you can. They run more energy efficient when full.
In the summer, use an InstantPot instead of the oven. It uses less electricity, and doesn’t heat up your entire kitchen.
Unplug your router or modem at night, as well as other energy-sucking electronics like TV’s, stereos, game consoles, etc.
Use the outdoor temperature to help regulate the indoor temperature whenever possible.
Our family uses a mini fridge instead of a full size fridge.
It uses about two thirds less energy than our old fridge did, and even though it’s a lot smaller, we’ve never had a problem fitting in all our cold food.
Tip: It can be tricky to get rid of an old fridge. Our old one got broken during a move, and that 1800gotjunk company said it would cost $150 to have it hauled off.
TIP! The free way to get rid of an old fridge is to write a craigslist ad with the word “scrapper” in the title.
Our fridge was gone in two hours once I let the scrappers know it was theirs for the taking.
Use fans instead of A/C when possible, as they run on much less electricity.
Turn off lights when you are not in the room, and teach your kids to do it, too!
Replace your light bulbs with LED bulbs.
They are brighter and last years longer, as well as using much less electricity.
I can say that they are WELL worth the money as I have not had to buy a single replacement lightbulb in THREE YEARS now since switching to LEDs!
Always wash your dishes in a full dishwasher or use the ultra efficient pyramid method to hand wash dishes as seen here:
Choose an energy efficient washing machine. They use a lot less water than the top-loading styles.
Take fewer showers.
You can use a wet rag to refresh yourself in-between showers. Use a Salux towel in the shower to clean your body more efficiently.
Always water your lawn at night during the summer.
If you have a sprinkler system, turn it off completely in October or November, and turn it on again after spring weather (cold and rain) has passed.
Gas / Heating
Search for drafts in your doors and windows and seal them up.
You can use sealant for cracks and insulator film for windows. The sealant shown below is also the best thing I have found to keep ants out of the house! A rolled-up towel works well for under doorways.
Take fewer showers, and take shorter showers.
If you’re up to it, keep your home less warm in the winter (I’m talkin’ in the 65 to 70 degree range), but wear warm socks, vest, sweater, blankets, etc.
If you have a gas stove, always keep a lid on the pot when you’re waiting for water to boil. It boils faster and uses less energy because less energy is lost in evaporation.
If you still have a landline, consider getting rid of it. We have been using our cell phones only for the past ten years and never once have we wished we had a landline.
Sign up for a cheap prepaid plan like Straight Talk.
We cut our phone bill by 40% when we switched to Straight Talk from T-Mobile and our service has been great. No more random fees! Got new iPhones for a great price when we switched, too! You can get Straight Talk phones at WalMart.
Turn off your cellular data when you don’t need it, if you’re on a data-limited plan.
This prevents any kind of data from being used when it’s not needed and reduces battery use. Just remember to turn it back on when you want to make a call!
Don’t pay for an international calling plan if you don’t need to.
You can use WhatsApp to make international calls for free over a WiFi network. We save about $20 a month now that we don’t pay for our international plan with T-Mobile.
If you feel like you’re paying too much for internet, check online and see what other service providers might be available at lower price in your area.
Shop around if possible.
Call your internet service provider and let them know if your service is too expensive for you.
Often they will put you on the phone with a retention specialist who will be willing to reduce your rate in order to keep you as a customer. I know this works because I’ve done it twice, successfully cutting my internet bill in half each time.
Decide ahead of time what you feel an affordable price would be and be willing to negotiate with your representative.
Don’t pay for anything other than the cheapest internet speed your ISP provides.
We recently tested out “upgrading” our internet speed with a more expensive plan and guess what? Our internet is not faster at all. Now I have to call and get them to “lower” my speed again. So stupid.
Do you even need to be paying for an internet service provider?
If you already have a cellular data plan on your cell phone, you can use your phone as a mobile hot spot. This is something that I’m looking into because I think the $100 we pay for internet per month is still way too pricey.
Cut the cable!!
It is so overpriced and chances are you are wasting time trying to find something to watch when you do want to watch TV.
If you can’t live without TV, try Sling. You can stream real live TV shows, sports, local news, as well as watch on-demand.
RedBox dvd rentals are a super cheap way to watch a new movie, when you want one, without paying every month for movie channels you don’t watch.
Lots of people are into Netflix nowadays. It’s cheap already but you can make it even cheaper by asking your parents, siblings, or friends if they’d like to share a plan with you. That’s what we do!
YouTube is free and there is always something to watch. YouTube is the best for learning new skills, like baking, cooking Italian food, gardening, etc! My kids love watching surprise egg videos!
Check out your local library for DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs of their favorite shows and movies.
I like to stock up on 5-10 DVDs at a time so we have a rotating array of family movies to choose from at home.
Pro tip: check the disks before you check them out of the library to make sure they are not all scratched up.