It’s hard to know what you can do in order avoid paying more money on your utility bills this winter. The cold weather, the flu season, and the coronavirus are all contributing factors that will lead to higher monthly bills. Here are some simple ways to save money on your utility bills during the upcoming winter months.
Paying your Utility Bills in Winter
While before, most of us left every day to go to work, school or social gatherings, now, we’re spending all that time at home. This means more use for everything in your home, which can translate to larger bills. Lights are on in rooms more often. There’s more need to regulate the temperature of your home. You’re also probably running the dishwasher and doing more loads of laundry than ever before.
These activities all ramp up your utility use which can lead to higher water and electricity bills. To avoid spending more at a time where you potentially have less coming in, here are some handy tips for keeping utility bills at bay.
Ways to cut back on your utility bills
In 2018, the U.S. used 3.95 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity according to Statista. This is a huge number when you consider that the average refrigerator only uses 161 kilowatt-hours per month. Saving on utility bills in your home means making small changes to limit electricity and water use.
1. Swap light bulbs
When in doubt about how to save on utility bills, inspect your light bulbs. If you’re not using compact fluorescents (CFLs), it’s time to make the switch. These energy-efficient bulbs use significantly less electricity and can save you close to $50 per year on your electric bill. They also last longer, so you’re buying less bulbs and saving some money there, as well.
Don’t forget to make these bulbs work even harder to save you money by switching off the lights whenever you leave a room.
2. Avoid peak hours
Using large appliances like your dishwasher or dryer during the hottest time of the day means your home is working harder. The extra heat taxes your air conditioning, already trying to cool down your home. To give your AC a break, and save a little on your electric bill, try running these types of appliances early in the morning or after the sun goes down at night.
3. Unplug electronics when not in use
Energy vampires are those appliances that steal a lot of electricity even when they’re not in use. Avoid these power suckers by unplugging appliances when you’re done with them. The top offenders include:
- Cell phone chargers
- Video game consoles
4. Adjust your thermostat
Keeping your thermostat running efficiently helps save electricity. “The closer the temperature is on the thermostat to the temperature outside, the less your air conditioner has to work and the lower your energy bill will be,” says Jeffrey Orloff from The Spruce. On average, this means 78 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmer months, and 68 in the winter.
5. Clean and close vents
Keeping your air vents dust-free helps them run more efficiently, saving you money. Twice a month, use a duster to wipe away any buildup. You should also make sure there isn’t anything blocking them.
Additionally, you can close vents in rooms you don’t frequent, like a guest room, in order to direct airflow to where it needs to be most. Sending air conditioning into an empty room just wastes electricity.
6. Load up your dishwasher
Treat your dishwasher like a game of Tetris. How much can you fit before it’s actually full? Doing this means fewer loads, which translates to less water.
7. Do big loads of laundry
The same rule applied to dishwashers works for your washing machine. Waiting until you have a full load of laundry to wash clothes saves water. If you wash everything in cold, it’s OK to combine lights and darks, making it easier to fill the machine before you run out of clothing.
This also helps save electricity since you’ll run your dryer less, as well. Just remember to leave a little bit of space for the clothes to slosh around and actually get clean.
This is also a good idea if you need to go to a public laundry facility right now, because fewer loads of laundry mean less time spent in common areas.
8. Take shorter showers
Cutting four minutes off your shower each time adds up. It can save almost 4,000 gallons of water per year, which is close to $100. It also helps decrease other utility bills since you’re using less energy to heat up all that water.
9. Check for leaks
Small plumbing issues may not feel like an extra expense, but you’re paying for every drop of water. If you notice a leaky faucet, now is the time to address it. It’s also a good idea to inspect your pipes and make sure there aren’t any hidden leaks. You’ll also avoid water damage.
Average utility bill costs
While it’s possible to estimate what your utility bills will cost in a regular month, it’s hard to know how much your usage has increased while at home as a result of the coronavirus. It’s best to assume your utility bills will go up.
“If you save your bill stubs, you can get an idea how much you spend in a typical month,” says Mint. From there, estimate your average spending and then work a little more into your monthly budget to avoid sticker shock when your first coronavirus utility bill comes.