Between turning the lights on in the morning, taking a hot shower, washing your clothes and countless other daily tasks, it’s impossible to avoid racking up a few utility bills each month.
Because these bills can add up quickly, this is a great category to look at when you’re hoping to reduce your monthly spending.
In this article, I’ll take a look at 15 steps you can take to reduce your monthly utility bills.
15 Ways To Lower Your Utility Bills
The cost of your monthly utilities can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle, the time of year, the appliances you have and several other factors. In any case, you can lower your energy costs by making a few simple changes to your home and habits.
To get started, make sure your utility bills are listed on your monthly budget. If you aren’t sure how much you typically spend on things like water and electricity, you can most likely view your past bills and usage online through each provider’s website.
While you’re looking at your average utility costs online, check to see if there are any suggested tips for lowering your bill. The company may provide these based on your past usage. You can also try to identify any patterns, problems or usage spikes in your history that need to be corrected.
Once you have an idea of how much you currently spend on utility bills, follow these tips to reduce your usage and lower those expenses!
1. Set Up Zoned Heating and Cooling
One great way to lower your utility bills is by cutting down on your heating and air conditioning use. You can do this by dividing your home into zones that will let you heat or cool only the rooms or areas that are being used.
You can control each zone of your home with individual thermostats, or you can take a simpler approach for less upfront cost. Simply close all of the doors and vents in rooms that aren’t being used to reduce wasted energy. You can also set up fans throughout your home to increase or redirect airflow. And don’t forget to close off your fireplace when it’s not in use to prevent air from escaping.
2. Change Your Filters and Keep Vents Clean
Another way to ensure your heating and cooling systems aren’t being overworked is by changing your filters regularly and keeping your home’s vents clean.
Make sure that nothing is blocking your indoor and outdoor vents. There should be at least a foot of space to allow for proper airflow. That means that furniture in front of a vent should be pulled away from the wall, and any trees or bushes should be trimmed back or moved away from outdoor vents.
For the same reason, it’s important to change your filters regularly. Filters can quickly become clogged with dust, pet hair, dirt and other debris. Once a filter is clogged, the airflow is blocked. To prevent this, change your filters at least once a month. In between changes, you can use a handheld vacuum or vacuum extension to clear dust from filters and vents.
3. Insulate the Attic, Floors and Walls
As you know, if it’s colder outside, heat will always leave your house if there’s no proper barrier to block its departure. For that reason, it’s important to insulate as much of your home as possible.
According to the federal Energy Star program, “EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joists.”
Your attic, floors and walls are great places to start. Also be sure to check your ceiling fans, chimneys and ducts. Even outlets and light switches can be sources of air leaks, especially if they’re on an outside wall. You can typically find inexpensive outlet and switch plate seals at your local hardware store. These seals are designed to insulate electricity-sensitive areas and to prevent fires.
For more information, check out the sealing and insulation guide on EnergyStar.gov.
4. Seal Drafts Around Doors and Windows
In addition to adding more insulation, be sure to check that drafts around doors and windows are sealed so that air isn’t escaping throughout the day. If you can feel air coming in from around your doors or windows, you may need to apply weatherstripping or caulk to stop the airflow.
These are both projects that you can do yourself with inexpensive weatherstripping or caulk from your local hardware store. If you aren’t sure whether you have leaks that need to be sealed or you aren’t able to seal them yourself, consider hiring a qualified contractor. The money you’ll save over time will be worth any initial investment.
5. Use an Electric Blanket
Adjusting your thermostat too often or setting it to extreme highs and lows can cause huge spikes in your electricity bill. Instead of cranking up the heat, reach for an electric blanket. They’re perfect for keeping your bed warm throughout the night without heating your entire house. An electric blanket won’t pull nearly as much energy as your home heating system.
In addition to an electric blanket, consider other ways to adjust your body temperature instead of turning on the heat or air conditioning. Reducing the use of your thermostat is a great way to save on utility bills. Changing into something warmer or cooler, getting your heart rate up by moving around or turning on a fan are other great ways to do this.
6. Cook Strategically
When you use your stovetop or oven, it generates a lot of heat. In the summer, that means your air conditioner will have to work harder to keep the space cool. In the winter, the extra warmth could be a great way to help give your heater a break. Keeping this in mind, try to cook indoors during the winter and outdoors during the summer.
If you’re cooking something small, you may be able to use a toaster oven, air fryer, Instant Pot or microwave. These appliances use much less energy than an oven or stovetop, which means you’ll see savings on your electricity bill.
7. Use Your Dishwasher Wisely
When it’s time to wash the dishes, use your dishwasher if you have one! Many dishwashers use less than five gallons of water per cycle, whereas washing dishes by hand can use up to four times that amount.
Try not to run the dishwasher until it’s completely full. Also, wash bigger pots and pans by hand to maximize the number of dishes you can fit into a single cycle.
After you’ve put in your dishes and detergent, look at your settings. Instead of the manual “heat dry” setting, consider letting your dishes air-dry instead. This is a great way to reduce energy consumption, and if you run the dishwasher at night you’ll wake up to clean, dry dishes either way.
8. Cut Down on Energy Spent Drying Clothes
In addition to air-drying your dishes, you can use the same trick on clothes for even more savings.
Instead of using the tumble dry setting on your dryer, let your clothes air-dry naturally. You can hang them on a clothesline if you have one or create one by hanging string across the balcony or a room in your home. If you do need to use the dryer, throw a wool dryer ball in with the clothes to reduce the necessary running time.
This is another chore that you should consider doing at night. Hanging up wet clothes to dry overnight ensures that everything will be ready to go when you wake up the next morning. This way, you can reduce energy costs from drying without ever feeling the difference.
9. Wash Your Clothes on Cold
Washing your clothes in hot or warm water takes a lot of energy. You can cut down on this by switching to cold water. Try to use hot water only when washing soiled clothes. Aside from extreme cases like sickness or very dirty clothes, researchers at Consumer Reports agree that cold water is enough.
Lastly, try to wash large loads instead of smaller, more frequent ones. This is another great way to reduce the amount of energy your washer uses. That will, in turn, lower your next utility bill.
10. Use Less Water When Flushing
The simple act of flushing your toilet uses more water than you’d expect. If you can reduce the amount of water you’re using per flush, you may be able to reduce your water bill as well. This is especially true if you have an older toilet.
If you’re ready to replace your current toilet, consider a low-flow toilet. To conserve water with your current toilet, you can put a plastic bottle filled with water into your toilet tank. This will cause the toilet to use less water per flush.
Also, check for leaks periodically. To see if your toilet has a leak, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl without flushing, there’s a leak that needs to be repaired.
11. Get Water-Saving Showerheads and Faucets
Replacing your showerhead and faucets with more energy-efficient options will pay for themselves over time. Low-flow showerheads put out less than half the amount of water compared to traditional, older showerheads while still providing comparable pressure.
In addition to using less water, the most efficient showerheads hold water until they’re fully heated. That means you’ll be saving water when it would otherwise be running and heating up. You’ll also be reducing your energy costs by heating less water.
12. Insulate Your Water Heater and Adjust the Temperature
Another great way to reduce energy and lower your utility bills is by lowering the temperature of your water heater. It’s most likely set too high anyway.
“Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140º, most households usually only require them to be set at 120º,” according to the Department of Energy. “Set too high, or at 140º, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses.”
If your water heater is five or more years old, you may want to consider buying a hot water heater jacket to insulate it. The Department of Energy reports that this alone can help you save 7% to 16% annually on your water heating bill. You can find step-by-step instructions online to complete this project yourself.
13. Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances
You don’t have to invest in pricey new appliances just to cut down on energy costs, but when you are ready to upgrade, invest in energy-efficient options. If you aren’t sure where to start shopping, look for Energy Star-rated appliances. Products that earn this rating are certified to save energy and money over their lifespan.
If you are looking to upgrade your heating/cooling system, refrigerator or oven, take the time to research the best time and place to buy appliances. Also be sure to check out our guide on the best time and place to buy a washer and dryer, specifically.
14. Switch to Energy Saving Light Bulbs
A cheap replacement that will help you reduce your energy usage and lower your utility bills is light bulbs.
The Department of Energy’s website says that switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. In fact, it says that the average household saves about $225 in energy costs per year by using LED lighting. They recommend that you replace your home’s five most frequently used lights with bulbs that have earned the Energy Star rating.
In addition to using energy-efficient bulbs, consider setting up controls like timers and dimmers to reduce electricity usage. For more information on lighting choices, check out this video from the Department of Energy.
15. Consider Home Automation
Taking things a step further, setting up home automation can help you save big money over time when it comes to energy costs.
Home automation options include smart thermostats, lighting controls, smart power strips and more. Basically, it’s any technology that can remotely control and monitor your home’s systems.
Instead of having to worry about manually adjusting your thermostat throughout the day or remembering to turn off lights and appliances, home automation systems will monitor and reduce your energy use for you. That means you’ll be saving on your utility bills without having to change your day-to-day lifestyle at all!
Of course, keep in mind that this option comes with the upfront cost of whatever home automation system you decide to buy.
Overall, reducing your energy use in any way possible will help you lower your utility bills.
If you aren’t sure where to start, begin by taking a walk through your home, cleaning any vents and changing any filters that haven’t been replaced in a while. Next, seal any drafts you can find. Make an effort to start using cold water when possible and let your clothes and dishes air-dry overnight. Lastly, lower your water heater temperature to 120º.
For more in-depth information on energy conservation and reducing your usage, check out the resources posted by the Department of Energy.