With the cost of utilities rising faster than you can blink, you’re probably looking for any way to reduce your utility bill. Thankfully, there are a number of government tax rebates and grants available for energy-efficient upgrades in your home. There are also a number of things you can do without greatly affecting your day-to-day life to reduce your utility bill. However, before we jump into the energy-saving methods you can use, you should understand your utility bills and how to find tax rebates or grants for energy-efficient upgrades.
Understanding Your Energy Bill
Before you start looking around at what you need to change, it’s important to understand your utility bills and where the charges come from. If the majority of your bill is delivery charges from the utility company, you’re not going to be able to save as much money. If your electricity bill is massively higher than your water bill, you might want to focus on cutting that one down rather than changing your water usage first.
You should look at your total kilowatt-hours (kWh) and how many gallons or centum cubic feet (CCF) of water you use. These are two numbers that you can easily work on lowering to reduce your utility bill. If you use propane, oil, or another fuel to heat your home or cook, you can also work on reducing that number as well.
Keep a spreadsheet of how much of each utility you use and how much it costs each month. Utility companies often raise their rates; by keeping track, you’ll avoid thinking you’re not saving money. If you cut back on energy costs, but the utility company raises their rates, you’re still paying less than your neighbors who did nothing.
Look Into Government Grants and Tax Credits
There are often numerous local and federal grants or tax credits available for energy-saving measures. Whether it’s installing solar panels, upgrading from old appliances, or just changing light bulbs. Be sure to ask about any local energy assistance programs or check out the Department of Energy’s section on energy-saving financing and incentives.
They have programs for low-income housing as well as a database of local incentives that you may qualify for. Enter your zip code on this site here to check if there is anything near you that you can take advantage of.
Requesting an Energy Audit
Depending on your area, you may be able to request a free energy audit from the local authorities or utility companies. They’ll often send an inspector to look at different ways you can apply energy-saving methods to your home. They may offer to install low-energy lightbulbs, new insulation, draft blockers, or upgrade appliances.
These upgrades may cost money or may be covered by government grants and tax credits. If you’re a homeowner, be sure to ask lots of questions to understand exactly what it is you can do to reduce your utility bill and how much the changes will cost. If you’re a tenant, speak to your landlord about these possible upgrades and point out that they could make the apartment more desirable by lowering utility bills.
Actionable Tips for Reducing Your Energy Bill
1. Upgrade to Energy Efficient Lightbulbs and Appliances
Older appliances are notorious for using way more energy than newer models. You may have seen the Energy Star logo on appliances at stores. That means these products use reduced electricity and, in turn, reduce your utility bill.
Old appliances, like refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and air conditioners, can be costly upfront to upgrade, but save money in the long run if you take care of them. You may qualify for a tax credit and can check your eligibility on the government’s Energy Star website here.
2. Block Drafts From Windows and Doors
If you’re spending a fortune on heating in the winter or electricity in the summer, you may have a drafty home. Older homes are especially notorious for being drafty. In the winter, see if you can feel cold air near windows and door frames. If you can, you will want to seal up these areas better to reduce your utility bill.
Simple draft blockers on the bottom of door frames are easy ways to block air from entering or leaving your home. For windows, you may want to look into tax credits that can help you get new energy-efficient windows at a minimal cost.
3. Ensure Your Home Is Properly Insulated
If your home is older, you may want to check want insulation is in your walls. Insulation has definitely improved since the 40s and 50s. It’s costly, but a well-insulated home is cheaper to heat and cool than a poorly insulated one.
If you have an uninsulated attic, you can immediately save a ton of money just by laying down fiberglass or spray foam insulation in the ceiling and floor. Heat rises, and if your attic isn’t insulated, it’s going to rise right through it and out the top of your house.
4. Unplug Electronics While Not in Use
While most electronics have a low-energy standby mode, it doesn’t hurt to unplug electronics when they’re not in use. You can also utilize power strips or smart plugs that automatically close off any flow of electricity when not in use.
Things like computers, routers, modems, cable boxes, televisions, chargers, and more are all examples of vampire electronics. These are electronic devices that still draw power even when not in use. Go around your home and think about what devices you rarely use or should be unplugged when you’re not home. You’re not going to cut your bill in half, but a dollar saved is a dollar earned.
5. Air Dry Your Laundry
Air-drying laundry is the easiest way to cut down on electricity costs. You can buy a drying rack for cheap or set up a clothesline if you have the yard for one. Depending on your dryer and the cost of electricity in your area, you could be spending as much as $1 or more per cycle. That definitely adds up if you run your dryer multiple times a week. Air drying, on the other hand, costs nothing but time and is great for the environment.
6. Reduce Water Usage in the Kitchen and Bathroom
Replacing baths with showers, taking shorter showers, or turning the water off while you lather up can help cut back on the gallons of water you use. The average bath can use up to 50 gallons of water, depending on the size of your tub. The standard showerhead puts out 2.5 gallons of water a minute. This means you’d have to shower for about twenty minutes to equal one bath.
By installing low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets, you can immediately cut back on your water usage and reduce your utility bill. While this isn’t necessarily a utility bill saver, avoid buying plastic bottled water. The money you spend per gallon of water from the utility company is infinitely cheaper than any water available at the store. Don’t be afraid to drink from the tap (if it’s safe).
7. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are an amazing way to control the temperature of your home while you’re away or asleep. Most thermostats these days are programmable from your mobile device, allowing you to set schedules so that you don’t waste money heating your home while you’re at work.
Your house automatically lowers the thermostat when you leave and raises it again just before you get home. This way, you never notice your house being cold, but you don’t spend money heating your kitchen table eight hours a day.
You can also set your thermostat to slightly lower at night while you’re asleep and unaware of the temperature. It’ll raise it again as you begin to wake up. If you really want to save money, you can have it drop down lower than usual and just use more blankets. It might be harder to get out of bed in the morning, but you’ll definitely reduce your utility bill.
8. Wear Layers in the Winter
A lot of people are probably already accustomed to this, but in the winter, it’s much cheaper to wear layers than turn the heat up on high. Set the thermostat low and wear a sweater and sweatpants while you’re home. Use multiple blankets at night, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can reduce your utility bill.
It’s hard to say exactly how much money you can save by reducing your thermostat by one degree since it depends on the exterior weather and humidity, but you won’t know until you try. Your teeth shouldn’t be chattering while you’re at home, but you don’t need it set to 72 degrees in the colder months.