According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans spend 6 to 12 percent of their income just on utilities like water, energy and cable/internet. In 2009, the U.S. Census reported the real median household income to be at $49,777 - 12 percent of that is $5,973! Imagine what you can do with some extra cash if only you were able to curb your utility spending - maybe a vacation to a tropical getaway or a state-of-the-art entertainment system!
Changing how you consume water and energy is actually not as hard as one might think, and if you're ready to change your ways, Kiplinger listed some easy things you can do to cut your expenses by hundreds of dollars.
The first thing you can do to reduce the cost of your electricity bill is by switching to fluorescent bulbs. According to the news source, you can save up to $60 per light with these fixtures. Unfortunately, people are turned off by their more expensive price tags, but paying for these are actually worth it since they last ten times longer than regular incandescent bulbs.
Another way to save on some cash is by unplugging unused electronics. "Of the total energy used to run home electronics, 40 percent is consumed when the appliances are turned off," the website explains. So if you're not using your phone charger or if you rarely turn on those lamps in the guest room, unplug them! You can also buy a smart power strip online that will do the work for you. Just look for an Amazon Promotion Code to save on your purchase.
If you have a furnace or a central AC system installed in your home, consider lowering the temperature during the cold season. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, every one degree decrease on your thermostat can reduce your energy bill by five percent. Make sure that you invest in a good thermostat or supplemental monitoring system that will allow you to adjust the temperatures automatically, especially when you take a vacation or business trip.
Besides lowering the temperature, it's also necessary for you to ensure that your home is properly insulated, and that any holes or cracks are covered to prevent drafts. The easiest way to do this is to use weatherstrips around your doors and windows to prevent outdoor air from seeping in and help retain comfortable temperatures within your home.
When it comes to water usage, there are also a number of things you can do to cut your next bill, starting with your fixtures.
Kiplinger suggests you go low-flow - replacing your old showerhead with a $10 low-flow alternative can save 25 to 60 percent of water you use. Apparently, older heads waste as many as 5.5 gallons per minute, while a new fixture only uses as low as 1.5 gallons. If you shower for 10 minutes a day for a whole year, you can save 14,600 gallons a year!
Other than the showerhead, you might want to check out other fixtures in the house to ensure that they are all working properly and are not leaking. A faucet that leaks 60 times a minute wastes 2,082 gallons a year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, so don't ignore it! Additionally, you might want to invest in some very inexpensive faucet aerators that cost anywhere from 50 cents to $3. These pieces can be fitted onto the tip of a faucet, and according to Earth Easy, can reduce water consumption by as much as 50 percent. Not only is this good for your wallet, it's also good for the environment!
When it comes to the yard, there are also a variety of ways for you to save water without killing your plants. If you're in the process of putting in new lawn, consider drought-resistant grass, explains Earth Easy. You should also opt for native plants that will require less water as opposed to other species. For the ground to retain moisture longer, think about covering the area around your shrubs and trees with a layer of mulch. Not only will this keep the soil cool and slow down the evaporation process, it will also prevent weeds from growing and is also attractive to look at. You might also want to reassess your water sprinkler schedule and the amount of water that's being used. Earth Easy suggests laying an empty tuna can on the ground to see how long it will take for your sprinkler to fill up the can with water. Additionally, you should also only turn on the sprinkler first thing in the morning or late at night so that the water doesn't evaporate right away in the heat of the sun.
Unlike water or energy, reducing your time in front of the boob tubewon't lower your cable bills! However, there are still ways to save on your next bill. The first thing you can do is to evaluate your current TV package, as well as the provider. Most cable/satellite companies offer tiered services and packages, meaning the more premium channels you have, the more they're going to charge you. Assess your watching habits and see which channels you can live without - do you really need to have the Basket Weaving channel? Additionally, many alternatives to regular programming are popping everywhere with the advent of technology. Online websites like Hulu and streaming sites such as Netflix offer movies and TV shows at fairly reasonable prices. By rethinking your options, you might just be able to save on your next bill.
Previous: Pet gifts that can make your pooch's life a whole lot easier
Next: Celebrate wacky August holidays by putting a twist on these honored foods