How to Save Money on Utilities
It’s no secret that housing costs are high in the Bay Area, so it helps to save money wherever you can. If you’re a new homeowner or just tired of high utility bills each month, here are some tips and tricks to help you cut costs. If you’re thinking of buying your first home, SF Fire has a list of tips for new homeowners to help with your process.
Cutting costs on your utility bills could help make your monthly mortgage payment easier, allow you to put more towards high-interest debt, or start saving for things that really matter like vacations or retirement.
8 easy ways to lower electric bill costs and save water
When you’re trying to cut down your monthly expenses, every little thing you do goes a long way. Here are some small changes you can make that could add up to big savings.
1. Change your filters and clean your vents
Get into the habit of changing your air conditioning filters regularly. Air flow gets blocked when filters are clogged with dust, dirt, or pet hair. When filters get clogged, your air conditioning unit has to work harder to push out air.
As a rule, you should change your filters (or at least check on them) every month or so. Mark your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or pick a date each month to check your filters. Change them out if they’re too dirty.
The same is true for your vents. Regularly cleaning off that thin layer of dirt, dust, or pet hair can ease the burden on your AC unit.
2. Buy ceiling fans
Also, fans can help lower your utility bills in both hot and cold months. Most fans have a switch that changes the rotation direction.
Setting your fans to spin counterclockwise in the hotter moths will bring down cool air. Switching them to spin clockwise in the winter will pull up cold air.
3. Check your outlets
Did you know that when appliances are plugged in, they can draw what’s called a “phantom charge?" This means they can increase your energy bill even when you’re not using them.
It’s a good idea to unplug appliances that you’re not using. Considering the amount of technology we all use every day, this might sound like a tedious and time-consuming task. Consider buying a few smart power strips to make this task more efficient.
Also, most people don’t realize that their outlets could be letting cool air escape while pulling in warm air (and vice versa). Covering those unused outlets with socket seals or plug covers could help lower your energy costs.
4. Invest in energy-efficient bulbs
According to the Department of Energy, if you replace the five most-used lightbulbs in your house with energy-efficient bulbs, you could save around $45 a year.
Energy-efficient bulbs can be a little pricier, but they’re worth it in the long run. And you don’t have to replace every bulb in your house all at once. Start with the five most-used. Then when old bulbs burn out, slowly replace them with more efficient bulbs.
5. Upgrade your appliances
New, energy-efficient appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers can be expensive purchases. But considering that they’ll help you save money in the long run, you can consider them investments, not just upgrades.
You might want to plan ahead and set up a budget to help you save for these purchases in advance. A low-interest personal loan might also help you cover the initial costs.
You can also consider using a HELOC to help you afford home improvements such as investing in new, energy efficient appliances. Be sure to keep an eye out for big sales events too. These usually happen around holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
6. Check the seals on your windows and doors
If your windows and doors have bad seals, they’re probably contributing to your high energy bill. Bad seals let air out of your house, which means your AC unit has to work harder to keep the right temperature.
It’s also a good idea to check the seals on your refrigerator and freezer.
7. Replace your shower head
Did you know that an energy-efficient shower head can reduce your water usage by 2,700 gallons a year? This could really help reduce your water bill.
When shopping around, look for showerheads with the WaterSense label. These models are certified to meet efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
8. Do an energy audit
Some utility providers will conduct a home energy audit to identify other ways you can reduce your energy costs. Home energy audits are often free.
These simple tips and tricks could help save you money on your utility bills and free up some money for your home loan payment. Even small steps or tiny changes can lead to big savings in the long run.