They say you have to spend money to save money. However, when it comes to personal finance, that isn’t always the best option (or even possible). Cutting back on certain expenses can make a significant difference to your net worth over time, whether you use those savings to invest or to pay off debt.
Energy costs are increasing with every passing year. Fortunately, it’s one of the best starting points for saving on living expenses. Here are five free ways to cut energy costs now and set yourself up for success in the future.
Switch Your Provider
Texas Electricity Plans identifies cheap electricity as energy that fits both your usage and your budget restrictions. In places where energy is unregulated, there’s a competitive market of providers that gives consumers more choices when selecting the right service for them.
Take time to look at the provider you use and compare their offerings. Analyze your current consumption habits to make an informed decision. When comparing energy providers, it’s important to look at both the package and term options. A longer term commitment will save money in the long run, if you don’t plan on moving any time soon.
You should also look at bonuses offered for minimal consumption. As corporate social responsibility and environmental-friendliness is at the forefront of many energy-providers’ minds, strategically planning your cutbacks can save you hundreds. Many green providers will offer $75 to $100 bill credits for those who stay under a certain amount. Analyzing your previous consumption and making strategic cuts when choosing a provider is a savvy way to cut back on your budget.
Unplug Items When Not in Use
Just because you aren’t using the television or microwave, doesn’t mean that they aren’t using energy. While they certainly use higher amounts of electricity when actively in use, most appliances that rely on standby mode still absorb power when plugged in. Little things like indicator lights and digital clocks can use a lot of energy over time.
Either unplug the items that aren’t in use or use surge protectors to easily flick a switch and kill the power. While surge protectors aren’t entirely free, they pay for themselves relatively quickly. It’s estimated that idle appliances ultimately cost the United States a collective $19 billion in energy bills every year. In other words, by unplugging items you could save over $150 on your energy costs this year.
Change Temperature Settings
Sometimes a few quick adjustments to the temperature settings in your home can make a big impact over time. Switch your laundry to cold water, rather than hot to save a couple hundred dollars each year. Instead of leaving your fridge on the coldest setting, adjust it back to something more moderate– this will use up less energy every time you open the fridge door to see if snacks magically appeared in the last five minutes.
Adjusting your thermostat by a couple of degrees can also make a huge impact on your energy bill over time. Before you crank up the heat, think about putting on socks and a sweater. Adjust the temperature to be cooler in the evening and wear warm pajamas and use a few extra blankets.
Optimize Your Cooking Strategy
Cooking is another area that you can use strategically to save energy consumption and costs. You can adjust the temperature here by avoiding the max setting when using your burners or turning your oven off early and allowing the residual heat to finish the job. For example, if your cake takes twenty minutes to bake, turn the oven off around the fifteen-minute mark and leave the door closed.
You can save on home heating costs by using the residual heat to warm the room as well. After cooking, leave the oven door open and let the heat travel into the room. You can also do your cooking in large batches and ensure that you’re matching your pot size to the burner for additional savings.
Whether you’re running an air conditioner in the summer or a heater in the winter, you’re wasting energy and money if it’s traveling through cracks in your windows and doors. Take a close look at entryways, window frames, vents, and pipes that may be sucking money out of your budget. Use old rags to stuff cracks or buy a $10 container of caulking to re-line your windows and doors.
Even something as simple as an old towel rolled up at the base of an exterior door can be sufficient for blocking a draft. Apply tape to drafty window frames or spend $30 to buy a winter window sealing kit that will save you $100 or more. You can also practice smart prevention habits by ensuring that no one is leaving doors open as they come in and out of the house. For this purpose, spending a bit of money is often well worth the return on investment.
When you save energy, you not only cut your living costs each month, but you also make a positive impact on the environment. Look for grants and rebates in your area that support green initiatives and upgrades to help you cut costs without adding expenses to your personal budget. By using these tips you could save $1000 in energy costs this year alone.