While we all want to live the lavish life of extravagant homes and exotic cars, we aren’t all at that point financially yet.
As Ben Franklin says, a penny saved is a penny earned, so if you are trying to boost your wealth as much as possible, look towards areas of your life where you can make cost-saving cuts without sacrificing your lifestyle. One of the easiest options is your utility bill, since this often has a lot of waste and simple solutions to prevent needless spending.
The road to financial freedom literally starts at home, so here are a few tips for reducing your utility bill:
1. Reduce your electric and gas rates costs.
Start by making sure you have the lowest electric and gas rates. Some states have deregulated, allowing providers to compete for your business. Sites like ElectricRate.com make it easy to compare, choose and switch to lower electric and gas rates.
In those states (see if your home state is one of them), consumers have a choice and can sometimes save up to 20% by securing a lower electric and gas rate which translates into significant savings on your monthly bill.
Along with finding an ideal rate, homeowners can improve overall efficiency for their utilities. Of course the routine “take quicker showers” is the overused tip for decreasing costs, but it is one of the most effective.
A quick way to reduce your overall bill by 3-5% is to turn down the temperature of the water heater by ten degrees. Simple tricks such as insulating your water heater, installing low flow fixtures, and quickly fixing any leaks in your home can minimize your home utilities expenditures.
2. Improve overall home efficiency.
Now that you know you have the lowest rate, improve your home efficiency so that you can minimize overall utility usage in your home. One of the most important pieces of home efficiency is a well insulated attic because a poorly insulated home can run your energy consumption through the roofs.
Replace the incandescent light bulbs in your home with CFL bulbs, and you can maximize the value of your buy. CFL lights last 10,000 and use a little more than a fourth the wattage of what average light bulbs consume. This rounds out the overall expense of buying CFLs is less than a third of conventional lights.
Leaving lights, appliances, and cooling on while you are not present in your home wastes a large amount of energy and can run up utility costs. Too often, people leave a room and leave cash running out the door by leaving all the lights on.
Air leaking out of unsealed areas is the equivalent of leaving a window open all year. Seal up leaky spots with caulk or expandable foam to limit the amount of air that sneaks out of your home.
3. Update your home.
The biggest issue for saving money that we all want to avoid is shelling out the cash to pay for new systems entirely. While the initial price tag may be intimidating, the long term benefit of updating outweighs the initial pain.
Buying energy efficient appliances to replace rundown modules in your home is a good way to minimize waste and making a return. The government often times gives out rebate checks to homeowners that buy eco-friendly systems.
Furnaces from older homes are usually gas consumption monsters, so upgrading to a modern system may seem like an expensive move to begin with. However, in the long run, the amount of money you will save in the long run will make it worth your time.
4. Capitalize on your environment.
Every house you see on the block has traditional black shingles, but living in an area with hot summers can rack up your AC bill. Making the switch from dark black to white could be the difference in hundreds of dollars every year.
Science is not on your side if you plan to keep the black shingles because of the color black absorbing much more light (and heat) than a color like white. Simply painting your roof white with an elastomeric coating can reduce your cooling usage by 40% and that can translate to hundreds of dollars by modern utility rates.
Planting more trees and shrubs around your home could be another practice homeowners can implement to reduce cooling costs. Planting trees (specifically deciduous trees) can compensate for houses with poor insulation and block most of the radiating heat from the sun. However, if your home is well insulated, the effect of the shrubs and trees is negated.
No matter your financial situation, saving money can be difficult, especially when it means sacrificing amenities you enjoy. However, utilities are an area where people often do not realize how much money is going to waste. Cut back on your utilities by being more eco-friendly and efficient and you can add more money back to your pocket each month.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.