How to Save Money on Your Utilities (Water, Gas, Electric)
You're shopping for your new apartment and find an awesome studio at a price that's within your budget. Everything seems perfect until you read the asterisk: "Utilities not included." You groan. Your wallet sheds a single tear. Yet another monthly expense to add to your list of bills?! Sadly, you can't avoid paying utilities, but there are plenty of money-saving tips that will make your wallet happy.
Monitor your bill.
If you notice a sudden or consistent increase in any utility bill, ask the utility company to read your meter or examine your home's infrastructure. There may be some leaky water pipes or worse, a small gas leak, causing your bill to be higher than it should.
Time your shower — with music!
We all know that showering in 5 minutes or less conserves thousands of gallons of water every year, but it's a little difficult to keep track of time without a clock. Instead, use music as a timer. Pick a song that's roughly 5 minutes long so you know that when the song is about to end, so should your shower.
And when you have Arctic-cold shower water...
Does your shower have to run for five minutes for the temperature to go from Arctic-cold to comfortable? Welcome to the club! Water heating accounts for nearly 15% of a home's energy costs, but by installing high efficiency water heaters, you can reduce energy costs by 10-50%. Although high efficiency water heaters aren't a cheap purchase, the long term savings on all of your utilities can be worthwhile depending on the size of your home.
Load up on laundry.
You waste lots of water by not running full loads of laundry. To cut costs, only run the washer when you have a full load of dirty clothes. Only have 2 white shirts? Combine laundry with a roommate, or hand wash and air-dry!
Be a fan of fans.
Let it be known – you can keep your house cool in the summer without running your AC. Simply invest in an industrial fan, open your windows, and place the fan on the window sill, facing outdoors. It's an effective and cheap way to send all the hot air outside and keep your house cool.
To hand wash, or dish wash?
It's an age-old argument over which method cleans better, but what about which method uses less water? Sorry hand washers, but as long as you run full loads, dishwashers are more water efficient! That said, if you insist on hand washing or don't have a dishwasher, you can use less water by rinsing with a water-filled container instead of running the tap. This way, you only use as much water as you need and can be more conscious of just how much water you use on the dishes.
Skip the tumble dry.
Everybody likes curling up with a warm blanket straight out of the dryer, but machine drying your linens and clothing racks up your energy bill every month. Instead, keep it old school! Install a clothesline or buy a drying rack to air-dry your clothes. Not only will you save on your electric bill, but your clothes will last longer, too.
Avoid the thermostat.
Unless you live in a region that doesn't have seasons, you know that running the heater is expensive and can make your home stuffy for sensitive sinuses. Before touching the thermostat, consider some questions. Are your curtains open? Are your filters dirty? Are your windows drafty? Will blankets and sweatshirts keep you warm enough? If you answered "no" to all those questions, then keep the heater on the lowest setting to be comfortable.
Just because we rely on water, electricity, and gas to survive doesn't mean we like paying for them. Luckily, cutting your utility expenses is easy with a bit of ingenuity, good habits, and investment in cost-reducing technology. Mother Nature will thank you, too!