Hack Your Way to Lower Utility Bills

Those dreaded monthly utility bills. They’re a fact of homeownership that everyone has to deal with, but sometimes the cost of a single utility bill is enough to send you through the roof! You can save money and energy while putting extra cash in your pocket for things you and your family truly love. Let’s look at how you can hack your way to lower utility bills.

Check Your Thermostat Setting

According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, your home’s thermostat should be set to 78 degrees for cooling and 70 degrees for heating to maintain an optimum year-round temperature in your home. By keeping steady temperatures in your home through the year you’ll be saving money as there won’t be any huge energy-sucking fluctuations. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your thermostat settings as other household members could be making their own temperature adjustments unbeknownst to you, which can then be brought back to the recommended setting. Experts say that by installing a programmable thermostat, you can save up to $180 annually.

Change Your Filters

For your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system or window air conditioner to work efficiently, you’ll need to regularly change the filters at least twice per year using spring and fall as reminders. Not sure you’ll remember? Use our DomiDocs calendar to track routine maintenance tasks and more!

Become Appliance Savvy

While Energy Star appliances initially cost more, you can save money in the long run by replacing outdated appliances and taking advantage of utility company rebates or federal/state tax credits. By keeping your fridge and freezer nearly full, you’ll ensure they’re operating most efficiently. And remember you can easily upload your appliance receipts and warranties so you’ll never lose them with DomiDocs!

Light Up Your Home with LED Bulbs

When you simply swap out your old energy-draining light bulbs and replace them with compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen incandescent, or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, you’ll instantly be using up to 80% less electricity. The huge bonus here is that besides being energy efficient, these new bulbs have a life span lasting anywhere from three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs! You can replace old bulbs with new ones when they burn out or go for it by replacing them all at once. Some utility companies even offer discounted or free bulbs if you switch from old lighting to LED making it a win-win for everyone. Reform your energy use habits by remembering to turn off lights when leaving a room and by ensuring they’re off in rooms that are rarely used.

Purchase Smart Power Strips

Here’s a crazy fact: it’s estimated that 75% of the energy used to power your household electronics is consumed when they’re switched off. Who knew? An average desktop computer uses about 80 watts, while a Sony PlayStation idles at 200 watts. Over a year, this electricity consumption could easily cost you upwards of $200. However, using smart power strips allows you to control the flow of power to multiple items at one time such as a TV and a sound system. You can set the smart power strip to turn off when you’d like or after a certain length of inactivity. Another alternative is to simply unplug devices that aren’t being used. The nonprofit energy aggregator, NOPEC, says, “If you haven’t used it in at least a month, unplug it!”

Keep the Air Circulating in Your Home

Installing ceiling fans is a great way to ensure the air is circulating throughout your home. But, it’s important to note that you need to seasonally change the direction of the way it spins. During summer, you’ll want to have the ceiling fan blades running in a counter-clockwise motion to keep your rooms cool, while a clockwise direction in winter helps to recirculate warm air that’s accumulating near the ceiling. 

Use a Rain Barrel

While this may be something you’ve never even thought of, recycled water collected in a rain barrel can be used to water your garden and plants. This is a great way to save money and conserve water at the same time. The initial cost of a rain barrel can range anywhere from $120-160 depending on the size and type but remember the rain is free. Plus, some local governments across the country offer free rain barrels for their residents!

Install Faucet Aerators

A faucet aerator is a small, removable extension at the tip of a sink faucet that mixes streaming water with air to reduce the volume of water flowing. Besides decreasing the annoying splashing that can occur with regular faucets, a faucet aerator with a WaterSense label saves average American families 700 gallons of water annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some local governments offer free faucet aerators for commercial properties but generally not for private homes, but don’t worry as the average faucet aerator can cost as little as 95 cents making the purchase a no-brainer.

Go With Cold Water Washing

Today’s detergents are formulated to make cleaning your clothes easy even when using cold water, so you’ll be saving both money and energy. And it pays to know that the hot water in your washer isn’t hot enough to sanitize or kill germs anyway, so why waste the extra energy to produce hot water? Cold-water washing can also reduce wrinkles, preserve colors, and is less likely to shrink clothes. NOPEC states to always run full loads of laundry and that you can save up to $30 annually by doing just one less load of laundry per week.

Reduce Laundry Drying Times

The easiest way to save money when doing laundry is to use a clothesline to dry your clothes. There are even small fold-up options that you can use in your laundry room instead of using the dryer. You can also throw a clean towel into your dryer load as it’ll help to absorb moisture and will facilitate faster drying, but remember to remove it from the dryer after about 15 minutes for maximum effectiveness. Using dryer balls or crumpled-up balls of aluminum foil will help to reduce static cling as well as to reduce overall drying time.

Optimize Your Dishwasher

While it’s tempting to cram everything you possibly can into your dishwasher before starting it, manufacturers warn against overloading as rotation sprayers can easily get damaged. Instead, they suggest doing two loads and only running your dishwasher when it’s comfortably full. Using the shortest washing cycle and the air-dry setting as an alternative to the heat cycle will decrease energy use.

Install Window Film

The U.S. Department of Energy states that inefficient windows in homes will consume 10-25% of your home’s heating bill. One easy way to help remedy the problem is by installing energy-saving window film designed to keep heat in during winter and to block UV rays in summer, all while allowing the natural light to flow into your home. According to HomeAdvisor, it costs $558 on average to install window film in a home. A report from the International Window Film Association states you can reduce energy consumption by as much as 500 GWh a month depending on the type of film chosen.

Lessen Winter Chill With a Draft Blocker

Even well-insulated doors allow a little bit of outside air to come into your home. A draft blocker is a simple and inexpensive way to help keep the cold at bay. You can buy them in the form of peel-and-stick adhesive door sweeps or you can make one yourself by using fabric and stuffing it with a combination of pillow filling and rice to make it stay in place.

Get a Professional Home Energy Assessment

According to HomeAdvisor, a professional home energy audit can cost anywhere from $207-$675. An energy auditor will spend between three and five hours at your home while inspecting it room-by-room. Many energy assessments include a thermographic scan or a blower door test. Before they arrive, make a list of any concerns you have including where you may feel a draft or notice condensation. Not sure where to find an energy auditor? Once you’ve signed up with our free DomiDocs platform, you’ll be able to access our list of trusted nationwide contractors to find one near you. In the meantime, consider installing an energy monitor which will provide you with real-time tracking so you can identify electricity usage and adjust your habits accordingly.

Utilizing some of these actions to hack your way to lower utility bills will help to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Did you miss paying your utility bill or have another that’s unpaid? By signing up today with HomeLock™, it’s easy to protect yourself from this unwanted scenario and the threat of home title theft, one of the fastest-growing crimes in America today according to the FBI. Don’t be a victim, you can stop home title fraud before it happens. Let our HomeLock™ video show you how!

For more info, read:

13 Actionable Energy Efficient Tips for Your Home

Benefits of Household Recycling

How Much Electricity Everyday Household Items Use

Author – Connie Motz