Being a homeowner is expensive. You can probably admit that you don’t need to spend so much cash on paint and new countertops, but the money you most hate to see used up is that which goes to bills, like electricity, gas, water and trash.
Fortunately, many of the bills you pay every month are likely much higher than they need to be. Without cancelling any services, you could save hundreds of dollars, even thousands every year. Here are a few tips and tricks to lowering your expenditures, so you can better enjoy your home.
Electric and Gas
Few regions in the U.S. can shop energy providers to find the lowest rates. Fortunately, there are other ways to reduce your electric and gas bills. For example, you might switch to a plan that provides discounts to energy consumed during off-peak hours. Then, you can turn off and unplug energy-hungry electronics and appliances during peak times to save cash.
To make the most impact, you can start putting your thermostat to good use. More than 48 percent of your home’s energy usage is claimed by heating and cooling, and by altering the temperature of your home even a few degrees up or down (depending on the season) you could slash your bill significantly. Even better, you can replace your current HVAC with a high-efficiency unit, which requires less energy to perform the same job.
To prevent your hard-earned money from flowing down the drain, you should get to know your plumbing. First, you should get in the habit of listening for running water or leaks. If you hear whooshing or dripping when no one is using a water closet, you could have a plumbing problem that is wasting water and upping your bill. Next, you should consider installing low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. For less money, you can hack your current toilet with a retrofit kit. Finally, you can take extreme measures to reduce your water bill by becoming more water conscious: taking shorter showers, xeriscaping your yard and flushing your toilet only in certain circumstances.
Insurance and Warranty
Shopping around is the best way to ensure that you are getting the best prices on your various insurance policies – and the same can be said of your warranties. Every year or so, you should research competitors’ rates to see what you could pay if you switched providers. Likely, if you compare home warranty and insurance prices, you will find some better options. You can try to negotiate better rates with your current provider if you like them – and if you have concrete numbers from competitors, you might be successful. However, you should be willing to leave for lower bills.
TV and Internet
The best way to reduce your satellite or cable bill is to cut it completely. Most of your favorite shows are available on streaming platforms that cost less altogether than you are paying for constant, commercial-laden TV. If you are unwilling to cut the cord entirely, you might consider changing providers or downgrading your plan, so you stop paying for channels and services you don’t use.
Unfortunately, internet isn’t something you can easily get rid of. You can try downgrading to a lower tier of service, but this can be difficult once you are already accustomed to certain speeds. Instead, you should try to negotiate lower rates with your provider, even speaking to the customer retention department, whose job it is to keep you paying some monthly amount.
Americans have a serious credit card problem. At last tally, Americans as a group owed more than $931 billion, which is an average of $15,983 per household. As much as you might want it to be true, not paying your bill isn’t going to make your debt go away. Instead, you should try to transfer your balance to a lower-interest card, which will reduce the amount your debt grows every month. If that isn’t possible for all your accounts, you should focus on paying either the smallest balance or the highest interest cards first, and moving up or down from there. You might also try calling your lender’s customer service to ask for a break – you might be surprised by how lenient lenders can be.