Utility costs are on a continual rise with some going up faster than others. The costs of energy and water are especially dependent upon supply and demand, and the demand often is outpacing the supply. The result is higher prices that affect your budget and lifestyle.
Fortunately, it is possible to save money on your utility bills, which generally are for electricity, natural gas, and water. You don’t necessarily have to change your life, but you can make other changes that help to reduce your total use and related costs. Here’s a look at how you can save money on utilities without having to go off the grid.
Lower Your Electricity Bill
Electricity is the most important power utility that homes use across the nation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the average home used more than 10,600 kilowatts hours (kWh) of electricity and 886 kWh per month in 2021. Homes in Louisiana had the highest average annual use at 14,302 kWh while those in Hawaii averaged the least at 6,369 kWh.
Those numbers show how much location affects the use of electricity with hot and humid Louisiana requiring homeowners to use more electricity to power their air conditioning systems than people in Hawaii, where the weather is generally nice throughout the year. Thankfully, it is generally easy and affordable to make some basic changes to reduce your electricity use.
You can start by replacing your light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs, such as LED lights that use less wattage than incandescent bulbs. You also could install new, more energy-efficient appliances. Just look for the Energy Star label, which indicates a particular appliance uses significantly less electricity. Timers, power strips, and motion detectors also can help to reduce your power usage by reducing the amount of energy that you otherwise might waste.
Reduce Costs for Gas, Heat, and AC
One of the biggest drivers of annual utility costs in most homes is the heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) system. Virtually all air conditioners use electricity, and so do many heaters. A home heating system also might use natural gas, propane, or fuel oil. If you live in a forested area, you might even use wood that you burn in a wood stove or a fireplace the help warm your home.
Throughout the year, one of the easiest ways to lower your utility bills for electricity, natural gas, or both is to adjust the thermostat settings to save money. Setting the thermostat at 68 degrees or less in the winter while adding an extra layer of warm clothing will reduce how often the heater has to run to keep your home warm. You also can raise the thermostat to about 78 degrees or warmer in the summer to help the air conditioner run less. Wearing lighter clothing and using a fan or two to naturally cool your home when possible also will help to reduce your electricity usage in the summer.
Cut Down on Water Consumption
Water bills can become very expensive if you use a lot of water each month. One of the best ways to reduce your water usage is to install dishwashers and clothes washers that have the Energy Star label. The Energy Star label affirms the appliances use up to a third less water than older models, which can help you to significantly lower your annual water usage. You also can install aerators in faucets that reduce the amount of water flowing while still giving you plenty for washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and cleaning other items. More water-efficient shower heads also can greatly lower your annual water usage the related bills.