Of the various expenses that eat away at your income, utilities are probably a big one. The bad news is that utility bills are unavoidable. The good news, though, is that you can take steps to cut down on yours. Here are a few ways to do just that.
1. Get a programmable thermostat
If you live someplace with extreme winters or unbearably hot summers, you're no doubt aware that your heat or electric bills can climb through the roof. A good way to reduce them is to invest in a programmable thermostat for your home. That way, you can set your thermostat to make heating and cooling changes automatically that maximize usage when you need it the most and minimize usage during the hours when you don't, such as when you're asleep or out of the house for work.
2. Replace older appliances with energy-efficient models
The refrigerator that's been chugging along for the past 19 years? It's probably not only on its way out but costing you more money than necessary, too. The same holds true for the washer and dryer that have outlived their respective lifespans. Upgrading older appliances to energy-efficient ones is a good way to lower your electric bills, and in some cases, you might save money on water, too. For example, high-efficiency washing machines are specifically designed to limit water usage.
3. Get rid of drafty windows
If your home is older, you may have several windows that always seem to let in a draft no matter how tightly you try to seal them. Replacing them with new windows might help your home better retain cool air and heat, thereby helping your utility bills shrink.
4. Only run your dishwasher when it's full
Tempting as it may be to run your dishwasher at the end of each day or after every larger meal, doing so could cause your water bill to skyrocket. A better bet is to wait until your dishwasher is totally full (but not overstuffed), and run it then. Besides, the less frequently you run it, the longer it will last.
5. Unplug appliances when they're not in use
Many of us are in the habit of leaving our toaster ovens, microwaves, and other appliances plugged in at all times. But even though doing so won't cost you a ton in electricity, over time, it can add up. As such, it pays to unplug devices you aren't using, especially if doing so is easy (meaning, you won't have to move heavy furniture or strain to access hard-to-reach plugs).
6. Switch to low-flow toilets
Let's face it: We all use our toilets a lot. Swapping an older one out for a low-flow model will limit your water usage to the point where your new, sleeker-looking toilet will eventually pay for itself and then some.
7. Don't let leaky faucets linger
A leaky faucet isn't just annoying; it can be a real water waster. If you're reasonably handy, fixing a faucet is work you can do yourself. There's no need to hire a professional. But don't procrastinate, or it will cost you.
8. Stop changing your light bulbs
No, that doesn't mean you should force yourself to sit in the dark when your bulbs burn out. Rather, it means replacing your standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents or LEDs. Not only do they use less energy, but they don't need to be replaced nearly as frequently.
Spending less on utilities will leave you with more money on hand for other things, whether it's home improvements, vacations, or padded savings. Make an effort to shrink your utility costs; it's good for your wallet, and it helps the environment, too.
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