Every penny counts when it comes to saving money on utilities. While you can’t control certain factors like pricing, you can control your utility usage and make energy-efficient choices at home. In this blog, we’ll discuss effective strategies that can help you save money on your monthly utility expenses, as well as reduce your carbon footprint.
What Is Considered a Utility?
Utilities are basic services your home needs to function properly and comfortably. These utilities typically include:
- Electricity and gas — Electricity is one of the most important utilities for your home since it’s used for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, and powering various appliances and devices. Natural gas is another energy option for heating, cooking, and powering certain appliances.
- Water and sewage — To get clean water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and sanitation, you must set up water and sewage services with your city municipality.
- Trash and recycling — If you want the city to pick up your trash and recycling weekly, you’ll usually have to pay a flat monthly collection fee.
- Technology — Internet, cable, and phone services can all be considered utilities. Just contact your preferred provider, and they’ll set up service for your home.
What Is a Utility Bill?
A utility bill is typically a monthly statement of how much money you owe for using important services such as electricity, water, and gas. In addition to the charges, a utility bill often provides detailed information about your usage during the billing period. For electricity, this may include the total kilowatt-hours consumed, while for water, it may specify the volume in gallons or cubic meters. This data can help you track your usage patterns and identify any potential areas for conservation.
If Renting, Who Should Pay for Utilities — Landlords or Tenants?
Determining who should pay for utilities depends on various factors, such as the type of property, local laws, and the negotiated terms of the rental agreement. Typically, there are three possible arrangements for paying utilities in a renting situation:
- The landlord covers all utilities. Generally, the landlord will bundle the average monthly cost of utilities into the tenant’s rent.
- The tenant covers all utilities, both setup and payments.
- The landlord covers some utilities — e.g., trash collection — while the tenant pays for the rest.
Whether you’re the landlord or tenant, both parties must discuss and clarify the specifics regarding utility payments. Clear communication and documentation are key to avoiding misunderstandings and potential disputes. The lease agreement should outline any agreed-upon arrangements to ensure both parties know their responsibilities.
How to Save Money on Utilities
Electricity, gas, and water service providers generally charge usage-based rates — e.g., $0.14 per kWh. This means the less you use a utility, the less money you’ll have to pay, and vice versa. If you want to see a price drop on your utility bill, here are some strategies you can implement for your home.
Traditional incandescent bulbs consume a lot of energy and have a short lifespan. If you still have these in your home, swap them out for LED bulbs, which use significantly less electricity and last much longer. While LED bulbs may be slightly more expensive up front, their energy savings and extended lifespan make them a cost-effective choice in the long run.
Many electronics — e.g., computers, TVs, stereo systems — continue to consume power even when they’re turned off. To conserve energy, unplug their power units when not in use or take advantage of a power strip to disconnect multiple devices simultaneously.
If you’re interested in making your house a smart home, consider a smart thermostat that helps regulate your home's temperature automatically. For example, you can set it to lower the heating or cooling when you're away or asleep, reducing unnecessary energy usage.
Weatherstripping and Insulation
Weatherstripping and insulation can help save energy during the colder and hotter months. Seal gaps around doors and windows for winter to prevent drafts and heat loss. For summer, hang thermal curtains to help absorb sunlight so it puts less strain on your air conditioning.
Efficient Water Usage
Water is a limited resource, so be mindful of your daily usage. How can people conserve water at home? Here are some easy water-saving tips:
- Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving
- Limit your showers to five minutes at most
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas
- Address water leaks as soon as you notice them
- Water your plants and lawn early in the morning for better moisture retention
Consider these tips to help make your laundry more energy-efficient:
- Wash and dry with full loads
- Wash with cold water since hot water consumes more energy
- Increase the washer’s spin speed, as this extracts more water from your clothes and reduces drying time
- Clean the lint screen before every load to help improve drying efficiency
- Consider air drying clothes whenever possible
Replacing old, energy-guzzling appliances with energy-efficient ones is a wise long-term investment. Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, as they’ve been certified to meet strict energy efficiency standards. Overall, energy-efficient appliances can significantly reduce your energy consumption and save money over time.
Harnessing natural lighting is one of the best ways to make your home more eco-friendly. Open curtains and blinds during the day to eliminate the need for artificial lighting. Also, consider using light-colored curtains or reflective window films to enhance the natural light entering your home while reducing heat transfer.
Optimize Heating and Cooling
Regularly clean and maintain your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Dirty filters and inefficient systems can lead to higher energy consumption.
Check if your energy provider offers time-of-use pricing — a plan that charges different rates depending on the time of day, allowing you to save by using electricity during off-peak hours.
Many utility companies offer free or discounted energy audits, so take advantage and identify areas where you can improve energy efficiency.
By adopting energy-saving habits and making small changes around your home, you can significantly reduce your utility bills and lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Looking for another way to save money? Choose Mercury for your homeowners insurance or renters insurance and enjoy best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate.