Utilities eat up a huge chunk of most budgets. Electricity and natural gas rates are skyrocketing and heating oil, sheesh! There are ways to cut your costs though.
Home energy audits
If you own a home, check to see if your gas or electric companies have home energy audit programs. We had one done recently and I was amazed at all the stuff they did. They sealed around our windows, changed a few light bulbs that weren’t CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs), and sealed our doorways. They also change shower heads and faucets to make them low flow. In Connecticut, they also give you a Kill-a-Watt, which is a device that you plug your electronics into to see how much power they use. It’s great to see where your waste is. If you rent, you can get permission from your landlord to have the audit done. The best part – FREE. That’s right, all that stuff was free.
Devices to help you cut your energy usage
We are pretty energy conscious in our house. A few months ago we purchased an electricity monitor and had it installed in the house. It measures, in real time, how much electricity we are using. We turned off everything in the house and got a baseline. Now, when we pass by the device, which we have in the kitchen, we know if we left something on somewhere in the house. It has saved us at least 10% on our electric bills. We also purchased Smart Surge Protector for the computers and the electronics hooked up to the TV. When we turn off our TV, it shuts off all the components. When the computer does into hibernate, the peripherals shut off. It took about 3 months for those to pay for themselves.
We have also installed a Nest Thermostat in the house. It’s pricey at $249 but we made that back the first winter we had it. We saved about $100 a month on our heating costs by setting up a schedule that turned down the heat automatically at night and during the day when we were working. The great thing about the Nest is that you can change your settings at any time using the app on your smart phone or tablet. I can also change the settings on my computer. The device allows you to set a different schedule for each day of the week, which is great for our schedule because I work odd days of the week. It has saved us a tremendous amount of money on our heating and cooling bills.
Ask for a discount
With your cable bill, phone bill and Internet bill, call and ask for a discount. It works. We cancelled our cable, then a week later I called back and stated that I really missed it (well, I did). They asked why I cancelled and I told them I was trying to save money. I still had my business Internet with them. The rep asked me if she could talk to her supervisor and call me back. Absolutely. She called me back a few minutes later with an Internet and cable package (no change in Internet speed) that would cost me $10 less than I was paying for Internet alone. I have my cable back and saved $10 bucks. How awesome is that? Sometimes you just have to ask. If you have an intro deal with the cable company that has expired, call them and ask for the special rate back. More often than not, you’ll get it. Remember when talking to customer service, be polite. Ask the person about their day. Say please and thank you. Always keep your cool. I get so much farther being nice than when I get nasty. You can too.
How do you have on your utility bills? I’m always looking for more tips.