Some bills can be removed from a person’s budget altogether, but others are unavoidable. You can cut out magazine subscriptions, gym memberships or trips to the movies, but you can’t stop using water or electricity. For some people, utility bills can quickly become overwhelming. The costs multiply as homes get larger, so even people who are otherwise comfortable financially can pay tremendous utility bills.

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to reduce the cost of your utility expenses without sacrificing your comfort. Many of these methods require only a minimal investment or a few minutes of effort, and they’ll continue rewarding you throughout the year. Most money-saving opportunities are also good for the environment, and you may even be able to get tax benefits for some of them.

Saving Money on Electric Costs

Electricity is one of the most expensive utilities most people pay. The majority of the cost is generated by heating and cooling costs, but other factors play a role as well. There are several ways to reduce the cost of your electric bill:

– Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent lights

Compact fluorescent bulbs burn brighter and last longer than regular light bulbs. They also don’t give off any heat, so you’ll save money on air conditioning as well.

– Use fans instead of air conditioners

Whenever possible, try to keep your house cool by using cross-drafts from windows and fans.

– Unplug things you’re not using!

Some items draw power from the walls even when they’re not turned on. Items like televisions that can be turned on with a remote constantly draw a small amount of power from the wall. Unplug it at the end of the night. Better yet, you can buy a device that will stop it from drawing power when it’s shut off; the one-time investment will pay for itself over time.

– Air dry your clothes

Drying takes up more energy than washing, and you can save energy and reduce the heat released into your home by drying your clothes on a rack or clothes line instead. They’ll be softer and last longer without all of the heat damage, too.

Saving Money on Water

Some first-time homeowners may be shocked to discover just how much water bills can cost each month, especially when large families are all using water. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your water usage:

– Install low-flow toilets

If you don’t have the ability or desire to install new toilets, you can simply put a water-filled jug inside the toilet’s tank. This displaces some of the water in the tank and increases its pressure, enabling you to use less water with each flush.

– Turn water off when you’re not using it

A simple act like turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or turning off the water in the shower when you scrub and shampoo can lead to massive savings over the course of a year.

– Buy a low-flow shower head

If a shower can fill up a gallon bucket in 20 seconds, you’re wasting too much water. Consider buying a more efficient shower head. The best models decrease the amount of water while increasing pressure, so you shouldn’t notice much difference.

– Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when they’re full

Instead of doing dishes right away, load the dishwasher throughout the day and run a single load in the evening. If you have any extras, wash them by hand or wait until the next load. Try to wait until you have a full load of laundry to wash for maximum savings, too.

Saving Money on Gas

Some homes are more reliant on gas appliances than others. If you do have a gas heater, stove, water heater or other appliance in your home, you can cut down on your gas usage in the following ways:

– Turn down your water heater

Many water heaters have thermostats that can be programmed. You can save a lot of energy by dropping the thermostat by a few degrees, and you probably won’t even notice the difference.

– Don’t peek in the oven when baking

Opening the oven door will release hot air into the house and increase your cooking time. Set a timer instead or invest in a kitchen thermometer that can read the internal temperatures of baked goods.

– Use the oven as heating in the winter

During winter months, turn down the heater and use residual heat from your holiday baking to heat your home. After you finish baking for the evening, open up the oven door and allow the rest of the heat to escape. This works for electric ovens, too.

– Insulate your home

Keeping your house well-insulated by sealing up cracks, covering windows and closing off attic doors can reduce your cooling bill in the winter; these same strategies will help keep your home cheap to cool in the summer as well.

There are many ways to reduce the overall cost of utilities in your home. By focusing on small changes that you can make to your lifestyle, you can cut your utilities bill without any discomfort. The long-term effects on both your bank and the environment will be well worth the small amount of research and effort needed to try them.

Alan Dunn

Written by Alan Dunn – one of our highly talented and underpaid writers. For more information on Alan follow him on Twitter or Google Plus

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