Many homeowners and renters encounter sticker shock after receiving their monthly utility bills, especially during periods of extremely hot or cold weather. Even after accounting for additional heating or cooling expenses, utility customers may find themselves wondering where all that electricity, gas and water actually went. Knowing precisely where your utility services go is one key to reducing utility bills. Some people have little idea just how many appliances and devices are currently drawing power in their homes.
One way to reduce your utility bills is to consider converting certain appliances from natural gas to electricity. Natural gas prices have spiked significantly over the past decade, while electricity rates have stayed relatively stable. Maintaining a gas-powered stove may still be cost-effective, but other major appliances, such as water heaters and gas furnaces, require a lot of fuel to operate. Even converting from natural gas to propane may decrease the monthly utility bill. There will be some initial expense when converting from gas to electric appliances, but the overall savings should be worth it.
Another way to reduce your utility bill is through improved weatherproofing. Many homeowners fail to notice small gaps under doors and around windows, but these small air leaks can add up to increased utility bills. Warm outside air creeping indoors can cause air conditioning units to work much harder than necessary. Conversely, cold outside air can keep thermostatically controlled heaters and furnaces from shutting off efficiently. It pays to invest in adhesive weather stripping for doorways and silicone caulking around windows.
Check the seals on refrigerators and freezers. Use shades to reduce the amount of interior heating caused by the sun. Have your insulation inspected and/or upgraded.
Many people reduce their utility bills by cutting down on wasteful usage. Turning room lights off when leaving can save on electricity, for example. Turning down the hot water setting or investing in an on-demand hot water delivery system can save energy. Use window or room fans instead of expensive room air conditioners on milder days.
Close off unused rooms to conserve on heating or cooling costs. Check and clean filters used by heating or cooling systems. Consider switching from floodlights to motion-detection lights for outdoor security. Turn off computer towers and monitors whenever possible.
Some people save money on utility bills by using alternative energy sources such as solar heating, wood-burning stoves or wind-powered turbines. In fact, if the energy output from these devices exceeds the needs of the home, the local utility company may be required to purchase the excess power by crediting the homeowner's account. It is not unusual for certain homeowners to receive utility bills with negative numbers. Converting to alternative energy sources is not a practical solution for everyone, but the prospect of much lower utility bills should encourage homeowners to consider investing in at least one alternative or green power system.