Managing your finances can be stressful at times, especially with several different bills to account for. When it comes to your utility bills, it can feel impossible to keep everything under control. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make the entire process not only easier, but less expensive over time.
Keep Everything in Check
Before you focus on anything else, you need to make sure you've got your billing schedule established and on track. Everything needs to be paid on time to avoid late fees; if you're not doing so already, it's a good idea to keep a calendar with all of your utility due dates clearly marked. This also works well on your smartphone calendar, especially if you can set reminders for upcoming payments. Another great way to make sure your bills are taken care of on time is to set up payment dates as close together as possible. It can be a lot more difficult to remember multiple due dates that are weeks apart, so the closer your due dates are together, the better. If you're able to schedule payments on the same day, you can handle them all at once and reduce the number of dates you need to keep track of. If you have regular access to the Internet and online banking, you can set up autopay with most providers. This means your bills will be automatically charged to any bank account you designate when it's time to pay. As long as your income is consistent with the days your bills are due, autopay can eliminate the hassle of remembering payments altogether.
Measure What You're Using
Once you've got a payment schedule established, you can start looking at how much energy, water and waste your household generates over the course of a month. Start by learning how to read your electric meter if you have access to it. This is usually installed outside of your home, typically on the siding or near the rear of the building, and consists of a box housing with round display meters. Each meter shows different levels of power expenditure in your home. Along with this, you can take a look at your traditional and low voltage electronics to find out how many watts of power they use. You can multiply the wattage by the number of hours these devices are in use per day to determine how much you're paying to use them. If possible, take some time to figure out how much water your faucets, shower heads and toilets use. This is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) for tubs and sinks, and just gallons per flush for toilets. If you have the model number for these appliances, you can search online to find more detailed information about its efficiency.
Work on Your Budgeting Skills
Budgeting applies to a lot more than your finances here; you can also budget your utilities to see where you're wasting resources, what's costing you the most and where you can afford to cut back. After you've analyzed what you're using versus how much it's costing you, you'll start to see patterns: for example, if your shower head uses 6 gallons of water per minute, you know that a single 10-minute shower uses around 60 gallons of water. If you shower every day for 30 days straight, you'll have used over 1,800 gallons of water in a single month. If your water bill is sky high, you can infer that your shower head is contributing heavily to this. Seeing what costs you the most grants you the opportunity to cut back. Following the above example, shortening your showers by just 3 minutes can reduce your water waste by nearly 400 gallons a month.
Consider Efficient Alternatives
Aside from cutting back, you also have the option of finding more energy-friendly replacements for your current appliances and fixtures. Replacing a 6 GPM shower head with a 2 GPM shower head can reduce your water waste all the way down to 600 gallons per month, and the same benefits apply to replacing wasteful faucets and toilets.
As far as electronics, swapping out your old incandescent light bulbs for energy-saving LEDs or fluorescent lighting drastically reduces your electric bill. If your TV comes with an energy efficiency setting, you can use it more frequently to cut back the power it takes to use it. If your kitchen is filled with large countertop appliances like air fryers and toaster ovens, consider using them less and taking advantage of the oven. Those large appliances are essentially emulating your oven, and reducing your usage to a single appliance can save you tons in the long run.
Your utility bills can become much more manageable with a bit of research and the right mindset. The important thing is to understand exactly where your power expenses are coming from, and making eco-friendly changes in your household can work wonders in saving you money and saving the planet.