Running a home can, at times, feel like you’re running a small business–especially when it comes to managing your always rising utility costs. You’re looking to keep the overheads down and make the most of the assets you have for maximum efficiency. But it’s no easy task and with an ever-increasing to-do list, remembering all the little things that might save you money isn’t always easy.
That’s why, in this article, we’re taking a look at those small but also much bigger things you can do that will make a significant difference to the running costs of your home.
Utility Costs: The Little Things
We’re talking about the small elements that will have an impact on your heating and electricity bills. The biggest waste of electricity and therefore the costliest comes from electrical devices left on when not in use.
Naturally, this means turning off all the lights in your home when you’re not in a room using them, but also the sockets too.
When you’re heading off to bed, have all your sockets and the switches on them turned to off. You should also consider actively removing any devices that are left plugged in. You might even be surprised by the lack of little glowing lights left in your living space once everything is unplugged.
If you have a power tracker or something like a Smart Meter, then have this in use too. You’ll be amazed at how motivated you’ll feel to turn off all unused power outlets to slow down that money counter as it calculates how much energy you’re paying for.
Heating and Cooling Costs
There are two great ways you can keep your heating bills right down. One is to make use of your timing device for your boiler. This will mean that you won’t have to leave your hot water or heating on constantly all day, controlled by the thermostat, but instead select very specifically when the boiler fires up. This will prevent unnecessary heating when you’re out of the house and put you fully in control.
The second thing you can do to help lower utility costs is to minimise the amount of heat lost in your home. Which rooms in your house feel drafty? Check around window seals and door frames to see what might be done to boost your insulation. Make use of insulation devices that can be placed under doors, letterboxes and around frames to keep the cold air out and the warmth in.
If you have a cavity wall, check that there is adequate insulation and the same in the roof space. You may want to lay down some insulating material if you detect a lot of warmth escaping from your attic and through the roof.
Utility Costs: The Big Things
If you’re determined to make an investment that will pay off in the long-run, then there are plenty of larger scale projects you can do to help in the battle against high utility costs.
Firstly, take some time to check out other energy suppliers and whether it’s worthwhile making a switch to save you money. While the process can be a little time consuming, the benefit in the long term can be great. You might even want to review your provider every 12 months to check that you’re still making savings.
Television and Internet Providers
You should make use of a price comparison site to do this and see the savings roll in. If you don’t have the time to trawl through taxes then there’s no harm in calling up your provider and asking for a better deal. While this might not necessarily work with energy providers, it invariably does on services such as Sky.
Don’t panic if your threat to disconnect is taken seriously, if you’re put through to that department, that’s often where you’ll be able to negotiate the best deals.
If you haven’t done so already then one major exercise you can carry out is to double glaze your windows, or replace old double glazing that may have blown over time. This is particularly useful if you live in an older style property with wooden frames rather than PVC. If you plan on keeping your wooden versions then contact a specialist who will be able to build internal frames and fit your sash windows with specialist draft excluding accessories.
One large scale project you might want to consider is investing in some solar panel installation for your house. If you live in a particularly sunny part of the world, this really makes sense. Why not harness the sun’s natural energy to drive your bills down and help power your home?
There are some elements you’ll need to take into consideration however before you sign up. Firstly, the location. Does your roof get enough hours of sun in the day to make the installation worthwhile? Remember the cost of the panels and the installation itself isn’t cheap so this needs to be made worth every penny.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have the kind of roof that can support the panels and that you have sufficient permissions in place to go ahead if you don’t own the property yourself. That isn’t to say you should give up on the project if you do live in an apartment. It might be that you can come to a shared installation arrangement where everyone in the building benefits.
While it’s entirely possible for anyone with some DIY skills to get the panels on to the roof, you’re going to need an expert to hook them up to the national grid. Don’t even think about doing this yourself.
In terms of utility cost savings, how the energy company reimburses you appears to differ from state to state, country to country, so you’ll need to know how this process works in advance of any decision to go solar, in case your area doesn’t make it financially viable.
If you’re struggling to keep you water bills down, there are larger scale options here too and you might want to think about how you are billed and whether you can make savings. If you are currently billed by an estimation based on the size of your property, then it might be you could benefit from having a water meter installed.
The rule of thumb to figure out if this make you a saving is: if you have as many bedrooms (or more) as there are people in your home, you will probably benefit from a meter.
In any case, most companies will offer you some kind of get-out after six months, so it’s well worth seeing if this method works. The meter will charge you for your actual water used, rather than the estimate supplied by the water company.
The Bottom Line
Saving money on utility costs can cost you time but ultimately it will be worth it further down the line. The savings you start making today will add up over the year and you will find yourself with an ever-increasing amount of excess cash left in your bank account at the end of each month.
You’ve earned it so make sure you get treated for your determination to save your household some money. Whether you’ve opted for a series of small but effective savings that might include installing meters or simply diligently turning your sockets off every night. Or you’ve gone all out with a solar panel project to rival a space station, you’re investment will come back to you year on year.
Start today and transform your home from a money pit into a savings opportunity, now and on into the future.
Have you had any luck in lowering your utility costs? Share with us in the comments–would love to hear!