Every home must pay its utility costs, but they can pile up rapidly and strain your finances. Finding strategies to reduce your utilities costs without significantly compromising comfort or convenience is crucial whether you own or rent your home. This Redfin guide is intended to assist you in classifying your utility expenditures and locating opportunities to cut costs. You may lower your expenses, lessen your carbon footprint, and keep more money in your wallet by establishing energy-efficient behaviors and making little expenditures.
Therefore, read on to learn everything you need to know whether you’re a homeowner attempting to lower your gas cost or a renter trying to lower your electric bill in an apartment.
The average cost of utilities
The average annual utilities bill for US homeowners and renters is $5,640.72, which is a hefty sum for the majority of individuals. Additionally, depending on geography, household size, and daily usage, the cost of utilities such as electricity, natural gas, water, phone, and internet can vary greatly.
The production of utilities like electricity and natural gas has a major impact on climate change. Finding strategies to cut costs and minimize your usage is more crucial than ever given the rising expense of living and the negative environmental effects of utilities.
Average electric bill: $121.01, or $13.72 per kWh
The majority of US citizens spend at least 23% of their monthly utilities on electricity, making it the most expensive utility for them. Additionally, it’s where consumers have the most power to influence their bills.
Every minute, the cost of supplying power changes based on supply, demand, and fuel prices. Additionally, prices are often higher in the summer and winter due to how the US produces power and how users utilize it. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers pay a metered charge based on kWh that is adjusted seasonally.
Here are some suggestions to help you cut your electricity costs.
1. Turn off lights and appliances
Even when a device is switched off, outlets still provide electricity to it. Turn off lights, appliances, and electronics when not in use to avoid this. When not using them to charge gadgets, unplug power adapters and chargers.
2. Use energy-efficient lighting
Replace incandescent bulbs with more durable, energy-efficient options like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
3. Install a programmable thermostat.
Smart thermostats allow you to set temperature schedules for different times of the day, reducing energy consumption when you’re not at home or during sleep.
4. Use energy-efficient appliances
When purchasing new appliances, search for the ENERGY STAR label, which certifies that the appliance satisfies the US Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent energy efficiency standards.
5. Use smart power strips to save utilities
By automatically turning off electronics in standby mode, these devices prevent energy loss from “vampire” or “phantom” loads.
6. Adjust your water heater temperature
In order to conserve energy and lessen the chance of scorching, set your water heater’s temperature to about 120°F (49°C). For further efficiency, you can also use solar thermal water heaters.
7. Hang clothes to dry
Use a drying rack or clothesline to air-dry your clothes instead of an electric dryer.
8. Opt for natural lighting
Open curtains and blinds during the day to take advantage of natural sunlight and reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Average gas bill: $61.69
The best way to reduce your natural gas costs is to combine energy-saving habits with regular house maintenance and the purchase of energy-efficient electric appliances. A fossil fuel that can harm your health and pollute your home’s air is natural gas.
Stoves, water heaters, and HVAC units are the most popular natural gas appliances. To save money and lessen your impact on the environment, you must reduce your usage. Typically, utilities providers utilize a meter and assess a set fee per term (100,000 BTU, or 29 kWh).
Here are some pointers to help you use less natural gas:
1. Switch to electric appliances
You can decrease your dependency on natural gas and contribute to a cleaner environment by converting to electric appliances, such as stoves, water heaters, and dryers. It’s important to take your electricity source into account as well. To maximize savings, combine electric appliances with renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower.
2. Adjust your thermostat
When you’re away from home or asleep, turn up the thermostat in the summer and lower it in the winter. Every degree of modification may result in a 3% savings, which accumulates over time.
3. Insulate your home
The workload on your water heater and HVAC system is reduced by proper insulation, which keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. To stop drafts, insulate your walls, floors, attics, and gaps around your windows and doors.
Additionally important is insulating your water lines, particularly in harsh regions.
4. Install a programmable thermostat
When you’re home, a programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature to make it pleasant while you’re there and save energy when you’re not.
5. Maintain or replace your heating system
You keep your heating system operating well, make sure you regularly clean and replace the furnace filters, and schedule yearly maintenance checks. A geothermal heat pump system, which is effective and completely carbon neutral, is an alternative to replacing your furnace. Tax benefits and other incentives are available for switching.
6. Use weatherstripping
Apply weatherstripping around windows and doors to close any holes that could be allowing warm air to escape during the winter and let cold air in.
If your property is at risk of drought, it is especially vital to reduce your water use because it can result in reduced expenses and less of an environmental impact. US citizens use 84 gallons of water on average each day. For a household of four, this translates to more than 10,000 gallons of water used per month. Businesses also employ a variety of billing rate techniques, including:
- Increasing block
- Declining block
- Water-budget based
The most typical rate type is a uniform rate, which calculates charges per gallon of water used using a water meter. However, cutting back on your water use won’t bring you any money if your city charges a fixed cost. Last but not least, some localities combine water and sewer billing, which makes cutting back on usage even more crucial.
Here are nine tips to help you reduce your water bill at home.
1. Fix leaks
Over time, leaking toilets, pipelines, and faucets can waste a lot of water and significantly raise water costs. As soon as you spot a leak, fix it. You could also want to install a leak detector.
2. Install water-efficient fixtures
Replace outdated toilets, faucets, and showerheads with water-saving or low-flow alternatives. For homes that adopt water-saving equipment, many governments even provide rebates and incentives. You may understand how much money and water you can save and identify energy-efficient appliances and fixtures with the help of WaterSense.
3. Use the dishwasher efficiently
Only run the dishwasher when it’s full, and opt for the shortest washing cycle when possible. If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the tap running continuously.
4. Limit shower time
Shorten your showers to save both water and energy. A five-minute shower uses significantly less water than a bath.
5. Collect rainwater
For watering plants, washing cars, and other outdoor cleaning duties, collect rainwater in a rain barrel or other container. Many governments provide tax credits and lower water rates as incentives for constructing rain barrels.
Installing a rain garden, which gathers rainwater runoff from nearby hard surfaces and allows it to gradually sink back into the earth, is another choice. For people who live in humid conditions or who desire a distinctive landscape element, these can be a terrific option.
6. Water plants wisely
Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation. You can also use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to water plants directly at their roots.
7. Use a broom instead of a hose
Sweep driveways, sidewalks, and patios rather than using a hose to clean them.
8. Reuse water
Save the water you would have used to wash or make food and use it to water plants or flush the toilet.
9. Install a water meter
A water meter can help you track your water usage and identify areas where you can save. Many cities already charge based on metered use, but a meter can make a big difference if your area doesn’t.
Trash, recycling, and compost
Average collection bill: $25-$100
In many places, compost is charged individually and garbage and recycling are combined. Furthermore, while some communities don’t charge for recycling, others don’t have composting programs. To prevent paying too much and lessen your influence on the environment, it’s crucial to understand your local collection policies.
Although most local governments impose a single fixed fee for all pickup services, they frequently impose additional fees for extra collection. Because of this, reducing the amount of waste you produce and putting more of an emphasis on recycling are the greatest ways to lower your waste collection fee. Additionally, some localities use a pay-as-you-throw system (variable-rate pricing), which assesses fees dependent on how much trash is generated.
Here are some pointers to lessen waste:
- Use reusable containers
- Cook at home
- Buy in bulk
- Thrift when possible
- Go paperless
Understanding what you can and can’t throw away is also critical, as every city has different recycling and composting capabilities. Many products people believe are compostable and recyclable in their area. Even products that advertise themselves as recyclable and compostable often aren’t in certain cities.
Many people include phone and internet charges in their monthly utility bills. There are also other costs specific to certain regions, such as stormwater, conservation, emergency medical services, and more. Look up your local utility statement to review exactly what you’re being billed for.
Whatever your approach, understanding how to cut utility costs can lower your monthly expenses and lessen your environmental impact. In addition to cutting utility costs, committing to extensive sustainability may be the best way to lower your monthly rates. This can be accomplished by obtaining ENERGY STAR or LEED certification for your home, both of which have rigorous energy and sustainability standards for buildings.