Utility bills seem to shift frequently, due in part to instability in the energy sector and the volatility of certain environmental issues, including fracking that may endanger water wells and land management jeopardized by gas pipelines. Whatever the reason, most of us don’t see our utility bills dropping by much, if any, each year. Instead, they seem to rise almost predictably over time. Since utility company employees need to eat as customers do and our bills must be paid to maintain a good credit rating, we should pay utility bills on time. But there are simple things you can do to lower costs.
Double-Check Your Rates
Even a utility company can make a billing mistake. Double-check meter readings or compare to the previous month’s or year’s bill, and call the billing office to discuss any discrepancies. If a statement seems high, find out if a raise went into effect or if you have accidentally been overcharged, which can sometimes happen.
Compare Utility Providers
If you find that a utility company keeps raising rates consistently, or if there is a spike in the regular rate, check out the competition for lower prices. Your current provider may be willing to lower its rate to match one by a competitor. Alternately, you can switch to the lower-cost provider, but carefully check all costs to find hidden expenses before changing over to the new company.
Turn Off When Not In Use
Make a habit of turning off unused appliances like the television, computer, or lights when leaving a room. Equipment with lights that stay on during disuse can impact monthly utility bills. Collectively, several appliances that are turned off when unused may help to lower monthly costs. Check for leaky faucets and fix them to keep the water bill low. Close heat vents in unused rooms and close the door to avoid paying to heat unoccupied rooms.
Use Utilities Minimally
Cut back on utility use when possible. For example, instead of running the air conditioner around the clock in summertime, turn it on during the hottest part of the day and set it to the highest setting that will cool you off without draining the budget. Do the same for winter heating utilities involving gas, oil or propane, setting the thermostat to 68 degrees if everyone in the household can tolerate it, wearing sweaters and socks to ward off any residual chill. Use cool or warm water for the laundry instead of hot water, and consider hanging clothes outside to dry in good weather rather than using an electric or gas dryer. Opt for the basic cable television package rather than the deluxe version.
Include Utility Supplements
Instead of running air conditioners in the summer, consider installing ceiling fans or use table fans. Space heaters in cold weather can help reduce whole-house heating bills. Some people use wood burners or fireplaces in the winter to offset gas heating expenses.
Don’t let household necessities gobble up your monthly budget. A few simple steps like these can pare down those costly utility bills and save money for other important things.