No matter how much you want to cut down on the amount of money you spend, you will always have to pay your utilities. Unless you’re willing to live without lights or running water—a lifestyle that most of us don’t find very appealing—those statements will continue to roll in every month. It is possible, however, to reduce them with a few quick tricks. Switch Your Bulbs. You already know to turn the lights off when you leave the room, but you can save plenty of money even when you need the light. Compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs, have been on the market for quite a few years now. Their average lifetime is about 10,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for the standard incandescent bulb. Since their price has dropped dramatically since their debut, CFLs are instant money-savers just based on their price. The fact that they only use about 25% of the energy that incandescent bulbs require means you save even more. The newer LED bulbs are more expensive, but their energy usage comes in at about half that of the CFLs. Eliminate Drafts. Do you feel a draft near your door or windows? The weather-stripping might be worn out, and it’s keeping your home from staying at a steady temperature. Fortunately, these long pieces of rubber or foam are pretty easy to replace. Most styles are self-adhesive, and you can reseal your door or window in just a few minutes. Also check the places in your walls where pipes and vents come in, and seal them with expandable foam. Inspect Your Insulation. What’s inside your walls? It’s the kind of thing you may not think about on a regular basis, but it makes a big difference when you’re trying to heat or cool your home. Try taking a peek in the attic to see that all outside walls are well insulated. Installing new insulation is fairly simple, either by stapling up plastic-backed batting or blowing it in with a rented machine. Check for Leaks. Does it seem like your water bill is higher than it should be? You might have a leak. While some leaks are obvious, dripping out onto floors or down through ceilings, there are others that you may not notice or think about. A toilet that runs continually is often the culprit of a large water bill. You can perform a whole-house leak test by turning off all water sources and then checking the reading on your water meter. If the reading changes 15 minutes later, you know you have a leak. You may need to call a professional plumber to determine the location of the leak, especially if it is underground or inside a slab foundation. Reuse Your Water. What happens to the water that you use for boiling pasta? What about the dirty water that comes out of your fish tank when you clean it? This is actually a great source of nutritious water for your plants or garden. Make sure that the water is cooled if you have used it for cooking. With a little bit of time on a weekend, you can perform an energy audit on your home to see where your utility dollars are leaking out. Most of the repairs required are neither costly nor time consuming, but they will make a major difference when it’s time to pay your water or electricity bill.
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