Tips to Save Money on Annual Utility Bills
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Posted March 9, 2022
Are your utility bills are too high? If so, you’re not alone, as many Americans are searching for ways to save money on their monthly expenses any way they can.
According to Energy Star, the average single-family U.S. household spends $2,060 per year on utilities. Saving even 10-20% on this amount could mean considerable savings.
Heating and cooling, water, power, and lighting are the main areas where you can cut down your utility bills. With a little effort, some small changes, and different habits, you’ll be on the fast track to significant savings. This piece will list some changes to make in your home to help reduce utility bills.
The average American uses around 82 gallons of water at home per day, according to the EPA. This number quickly rises when factoring in other household members, which makes it unsurprising that the water bill is typically the second-largest utility expense
However, it’s quite easy to reduce water consumption, and doing so can make a noticeable difference to your budget. Let’s look at some areas where you can reduce water consumption.
Leaks: Water Waste is Essentially Money Down the Drain
Does it seem like the water bill is higher than it should be? If something seems off, it could be because your home has a water leak. This problem creates unnecessary fees, and sometimes these leaks are difficult to detect. However, you should regularly check the area around these fixtures for any unexplained standing water:
- Faucets and underneath your sinks
- Shower hoses
- Behind your toilets
- Next to your water heater
- Around your outside hose
Before anything else, fix any apparent leaks in the plumbing system. If the location of the leak isn’t accessible or if you want your home inspected for any water issues, contact a professional who can perform a leak detection test.
Toilet: Low-Flow Models Deliver Big Savings on Utility Bills
On average, toilets count for up to a quarter of the water usage in a home. Any savings applied should therefore show a water bill reduction pretty quickly. First and foremost, ensure your home has modern toilets that are in good working order. If needed, contact a professional plumber to replace any outdated toilets.
Many older and cheaper models hold 3.6 gallons of water, which is way more than you’ll need to flush most waste. Meanwhile, low-flow (aka low-flush) toilets work smarter. They typically only use 1.6 gallons or less per flush, and some models offer a dual-flush button so you can easily adjust water usage to every situation. According to Water Saver, installing a low-flow toilet can reduce toilet water usage by 54%.
Shower: A Little Conservation Goes a Long Way
Have you ever assessed how much water and energy usage goes into your showers? Staying fresh and clean may cost more than you think, as showers can account for up to 20% of total water use in a home.
Additionally, the water heater is a significant source of energy usage. Yet, you might not even be aware that it’s possible to adjust the water heater’s temperature settings.
Practicing conservation habits and making a few adjustments to your fixtures can help you achieve incredible utility bill savings over time. Some suggestions include:
- Reduced shower time
According to the EPA, the average shower lasts about eight minutes and the average showerhead uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. By cutting a couple of minutes from your daily shower, you can save more than four gallons per use. We recommend turning off the showerhead while washing your hair and lathering your body to easily conserve water.
- Buy a new showerhead
There are plenty of new models on the market that use less water per minute, and many of them have fancy settings, too. Research whether buying a more efficient showerhead could be worth it in the long run.
- Lower the water heater settings
Homeowners often keep their water temperature much higher than it actually needs to be. For example, most water heaters have a default setting of 140 degrees. Lowering the setting by 10-20 degrees will significantly alter how much energy the water heater uses, and you may still find the water temperature quite comfortable.
- Explore tankless water heater options
These energy-efficient models only warm the water as it is being used. This could save you up to 30% of energy compared to a standard water heater.
- Install a timer on the water heater
If a tankless model isn’t an option for your home, a timer could be the next best thing. Most water heaters run 24/7, but that’s not typically necessary. To combat this, you could set a timer to automatically turn off the water heater during your typical sleeping hours, which helps save energy and lower utility bills.
Most of the same money-saving tricks that apply to the previous fixtures also work for faucets. Just like low-flow toilets, we recommend installing low-flow faucets aerators to help save on utility bills. They can reduce the amount of water you use with the faucets by up to 30%.
Small changes to your daily routine can also help reduce water consumption. Try making these water-saving tips a part of your lifestyle:
- Turn off the faucet tap while brushing your teeth and lather your hands.
- Scrub the dishes before turning the water on to rinse them.
- Use drip irrigation to water the garden.
On average, up to 18% of water use in the household is dedicated to the washing machine. Plus, your washer and dryer usage impact the electric bill. However, we have a few simple tips to help you save money on utility bills.
- Use cold water instead of hot water when washing clothes.
- Reuse bath towels several times before washing them to reduce laundry loads.
- Hang your laundry instead of using the dryer whenever possible.
- Invest in an energy-efficient washing machine once you’re ready to upgrade.
Some of these water-saving tips and tricks seem rudimentary or obvious. However, few people put them all into practice. The money you’ll save on utility bills by following these habits will quickly add up, and you’ll be flush with cash rather than flushing cash down the toilet.
Heating And Cooling
Your HVAC system helps to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home all year long. Of course, not using the cooling or heating systems as often will save money. But it’s possible to lower overall energy expenses without changing your comfort level.
These HVAC maintenance and temperature control tips may help you save significant cash over time. Follow these six easy steps to save money on utility bills by reducing the HVAC system’s energy output:
1. Test and (if necessary) fix your home’s insulation
Insulation is a key factor to potential savings on energy bills. Therefore, the heating and cooling system will use less energy to maintain the set temperature in a well-insulated home.
Check seals on windows and doors to ensure they aren’t loose or cracked. Additionally, consider investing in double-pane glass windows rather than single-pane glass, as they offer better insulation.
2. Inspect the air ducts
The same careful check should also be applied to ductwork around your house. Any leak in the ventilation system’s ducts will decrease its efficiency.
At Hiller, we ensure that our technicians always inspect the ductwork when conducting annual HVAC maintenance.
3. Properly maintain air conditioning system
A well-functioning AC system is an efficient one. So ensuring the air conditioner vents aren’t clogged and regularly changing the air filter will prevent your air conditioner from having to work harder. Don’t forget to check the outdoor AC unit for debris, and leave enough space around it to work properly.
You’ll also want to schedule routine air conditioner service, so a professional can fix any lingering issues.
4. Use the thermostat to your advantage
Don’t set it and forget it. You may find it easier to always set the thermostat at 72 degrees. However, it’s not always necessary to work the air conditioner so hard to stay comfortable.
By simply adjusting the temperature when you are away from home or according to the outside climate, you can easily reduce utility bills. Smart or programmable thermostats can easily be set to do so.
5. Invest in quality fans
Fans use less energy than a central cooling system. When temperature requires a bit of cooling, you can do it without blasting the AC. Fans are a good way to keep your home comfortable without overpowering the HVAC system.
You can install ceiling fans and buy pedestal fans that are easily moved from one room to another when needed. When the temperature allows, fans will save on your air-conditioning use and, therefore, reduce the energy bill.
6. Buy blackout curtains
Thick curtains will block the sun out or warm air from escaping, depending on the season. It might not be necessary for all rooms, but it might help you set the thermostat a little bit lower or higher than you usually would.
Electricity for lights, electronics, and other appliances can account for 15% of the home’s energy use. Thankfully, this is an easy area to change your habits in order to save on utility bills.
Lightning: The Benefit of Better Bulbs
A simple trick is to switch to lower consumption light bulbs (CFL.) These bulbs are more expensive than regular incandescent light bulbs upfront. However, they can pay for themselves in just a few months with electric bill savings.
Another good way to reduce the use of lighting is by installing smart light switches throughout the home. You can, for example, program the outdoor lights to be turned on during certain hours in the evening or even have them fitted with motion sensors so they will only switch on when triggered.
Electronics: How the “Phantom Load” Racks Up Additional Utility Charges
While not using your electronics or appliances, it is always best to turn them off completely. Some devices will have a sleeping or snooze mode or use energy even when turned off. Any appliance or electronic displaying a light or having a clock will consume energy. This is often referred to as the“phantom load” of your energy consumption.
“Phantom load” electronics often include but are not limited to:
- Blu-ray/DVD players
- Video game consoles
- Stereo Systems
You can easily control energy usage by investing in smart power strips and turning them on only when needed. Depending on the size of your household and the number of electronic devices in use, you could reduce the electric bill by up to $100 a year. Ironically, that’s enough money to buy a few new video games or movies.
Appliances: Is It Time to Upgrade Or Fine-Tune Your Machines?
This is a bit more costly than the tips mentioned above but can be done when the refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher needs to be replaced. Investing in some energy-efficient appliances will help you save on utility bills in the long run.
Look for the Energy Star logo on those to help find the most efficient ones.
If switching to more energy-efficient appliances is not an option for you at the moment, research how energy settings can be optimized. For example, you could modify the temperature in the fridge and make sure to keep the coils clean to avoid unnecessary electricity consumption.
Energy Provider: Ways to Get Direct Savings on Electric Bills
Your electricity bill should show your monthly power consumption (also labeled as “supply charge in kWh” on the bill.) Of course, reducing power usage is the primary goal. However, it doesn’t hurt to check with your energy provider to see if they offer off-peak rates. By running the dishwasher and washing machine during those times, you will add to your energy bill savings.
Do not forget to compare the rates of electricity in your area. Most states usually have several energy suppliers, and the costs can vary from one to another. Alternatively, discuss a flat rate with your current supplier to better manage your monthly budget.
Utility Bills Add Up, But They Don’t Have to Add Up to Much
This is a long list of potential savings on utility bills. While not all of them might apply to your household, using some of these tips might reduce your energy bill every month.
Try implementing some of the tips above. We’re certain you’ll be quite happy with how much money you can save on utility bills.