As I mentioned in a recent post I have moved back to California for at least a little while. Not sure how long, but will be here at least until the end of the lease on this house. That being said, renting a house to live in here in California costs a lot more than renting one to live in back in New Mexico. But that’s not only because the rent is higher; it’s because utilities cost more too. My water, gas, electricity, sewage, and trash bills are way higher than any amount I have ever paid for them. I have lived in many different apartments in SoCal, but paying all the bills on a stand-alone house is much different. For the first time in my life I am scared to open my utility bills, even with all the energy (and cost) -saving steps I have taken to keep them as low as possible. With that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of things that you may or may not already be doing to keep your utility bill on the low side. If you aren’t trying all of them, I recommend you do so! Let’s take a look, shall we?
1. Change out those light bulbs. I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about this. But CFL and LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy of regular incandescent bulbs and last 10-20X longer. We all need light in our homes; but why pay the electric company so much for the privilege?
2. Install a low flow showerhead. By reducing the amount of water flowing out of those epic showers your family takes every day, you can drastically cut down on the water bill. The one I use is this Oxygenics 40025 5 Star Resort Spa Showerhead, which uses up to 70% less water than a regular showerhead. 70%!
3. Open your shades in the morning and close them at night. It may only help a little bit, but during the day let the sun in and at night add a little insulation to those cold windows.
4. Put down area rugs on wood floors. It took me a long time to figure this one out, but wow — what a difference this can make. I recently put a 9 X 12 rug down in my main living space and I could tell the difference immediately in room temperature.
5. Caulk around leaky doors and windows. If you have cold air seeping through any cracks, it’s going to make your heater work extra hard to keep your space warm. At only a few bucks per tube of caulk, it’s a small investment for a big return.
6. Put power strips on any electronics you access daily. My computer equipment and my TV/DVD/cable box are all on power strips. Every night they all get turned off and I only turn them on when I need to use a device on each one. Why power this stuff if you aren’t using it?
7. Only use lights when 100% necessary to do so. I don’t turn the lights on in my house until the sun is about to go down, as I get plenty of natural light inside. Too many of us automatically turn lights on all day long when they aren’t even needed!
8. Put your heater/AC units on automatic thermostats. This way you can set one temperature for during the day and another at night, saving a ton of money in the process because they no longer run all day and night. That being said, turn down the heat at night as your bed will keep you plenty warm till morning.
9. Install rain barrels or cisterns under downspouts. Saving rainwater can significantly cut your outdoor water bill, and you can see the cistern setup I had back in New Mexico.
10. Wash your clothes in cold water. Unless you have a deep stain, cold water does just fine. I have been washing my clothes in cold water for years with no ill effects. Also, think about doing some line drying once it gets warm enough to do so!
I do each and every one of these things just to try to keep my utility bills down each month. Do you have any others that I should add to be repertoire to save even more? Please chime in the comments and let us know!
(photo credit: Editor B)