It seems almost impossible, nowadays, to afford paying your utility bills each month. Trying to keep your home lit, warm and with running water, prices are skyrocketing and your income pay isn’t increasing to keep up. I know, first hand, that I have come across a couple months where my hydro bill was as high a $420 for one month. At that time, I lived in a tiny little town house. How could a small little home like mine, require me to pay such a high bill? I am sure some of you have come across a high utility bill sometime in your adult lives. It sucks and you wonder how are these companies rationalizing my usage?
Saving on Utilities is possible! You can reduce your monthly bill and keep it in an affordable range. I am living proof to this and here is how I did it!
Take Advantage of Low Income Incentives – Some of the utility companies now have to offer incentives for reducing low income families monthly bill. If you qualify, a discount will be applied to your monthly bill. It can reduce your bill up to $50 per month. Ask your government or the utility company themselves for more information.
Make Your Home More Efficient – There are ways of making sure your home is sealed properly optimizing your utility efficiency. If you have a window or a door that isn’t properly installed, there is a draft perhaps, getting that fixed can help reduce your heating and cooling bills. There are companies that offer free in home assessments, and pressure tests that can provide an evaluation of the efficiency of your home. Many of those companies will give you a discount on making the adjustments your home needs to make it more efficient.
Have a professional come and assess your furnace. Is it a newer high efficiency furnace? How old is your furnace? How often does the model of furnace you have require you to change that filter? This can be a very important aspect of reducing your gas bill during the colder season.
Some electrical companies will come and assess your wiring for free and let you know if any updates can help reduce your hydro bill. Do your electrical sockets or plugs get super hot? That could be a sign that you need your wiring updated, or even just a new electrical socket. Is your hot water tank run on hydro? Is it an older model? This could also draw more electricity causing your bill to increase. As well, older appliances can draw more electricity causing your bill to increase. Updating your older appliances can help.
Is your water waste and usage on your water bill really high? Perhaps your toilet is old and not efficient while flushing, using much more water than necessary. Is your shower head a water efficient one? Water efficient shower heads reduce the amount of water you use during your shower, saving you money.
How To Manage Your Gas and Hydro Usage – Many people think that constantly turning the lights out as you leave a room and only turning the lights on when you enter a room can reduce your bill. Actually, it takes more electricity to turn a light on than it does to just keep it on. The surge that your hydro uses to bring electricity to your light is far greater than the amount used to maintain the light being on. So if you are returning to that room in a short while, might be best to just keep it turned on.
The same goes for your Gas bill, in the wintertime. It takes less gas to maintain a constant temperature in your home than it does to lower the temperature when you either aren’t home or sleeping at night. The amount of gas needed to bring the temperature back to the comfortable level you like to keep it at during the awake hours of the day is greater than the usage to simply maintain one constant temperature.
If Your Aren’t Using It, Don’t Plug It In – Those appliances that you use once a day, why are they plugged in all day long? Your toaster, curling iron, coffee maker, can opener, hair dryer, etc…. Hydro still runs through the cord into that appliance whether it is turned on or not. If you aren’t using it, unplug it. It is much safer this way, as well. Safety tips from your local fire department can help you learn how the electricity in your home is an added risk factor in house fires.
During the sunny hours of the day, open your curtains or blinds on your windows. Sunlight is FREE! Why use your lamp to light up the room when the sun is willing to do it for you for nothing! At night, as long as you are using them in a safe way, candles can provide a night light to your room without costing you an increase in your hydro bill.
Purchasing timers for your lights is another great way to save money, especially if you aren’t home most evenings. Setting a timer to turn a light on so you can see when you get home is more efficient than leaving it turned on the entire time you are gone. You can purchase wind up or battery operated timers at your local dollar store.
Managing Your Telephone Bills – Many families have more than one phone. Whether it be for a home line and a cell phone, of if everyone in your home has their own phone, multiple phones can get expensive. With so many phone companies to choose from, there are many choices to decide what service is the best fit for you and your family.
First, lets discuss land phone lines vs. cellular phone services. In today’s world, cell phones are the most popular way to go. With lives being so busy, and the need to keep a phone on you at all times, in case someone needs to contact you about your children, why would you bother having a home, land line phone? It is a second service to pay for, even if it is bundled with other services offering you a discount (such as internet and cable TV), you still end up paying more in the long run. There really isn’t a need for a land line service any longer, so say good bye to your land line.
Paying for just what you need is key. Keeping your monthly bill down is the objective here, so speak with your customer service department of your cell phone provider to discuss just how much usage you are utilizing each month. Most people have data on their cell phone, are you using the full amount of that service each month or can you reduce it? If you don’t really need data at all while you aren’t at home, just get rid of that service.
Cell phone providers also offer family plans where you can get one account with one bill coming into the home, sharing usage and keeping your spending amount to a minimum . Prepaid monthly phone plans are a great way to go if you want to keep your monthly bill down, as well, especially if you aren’t planning on using data.
One last thing to keep in mind when signing a contract with a cell phone provider. Cell phone providers offer incentives for you to purchase a plan through a 2 year contract, locking you in and guaranteeing your business. Usually, you can get a high end phone for $0 down, and you pay a small amount each month over the two years to pay off the cost of the phone. Sounds like a great idea, right? Beware! I got locked in to a plan where, after the two year contract was up, the cost charged to me monthly to pay off the cell phone remained included on my monthly bill. When I called customer service to have it removed, since I now own the phone and paid off the entire cost of it, they refused to. Make sure that when your contract is up, if you’re paying off a phone under that plan, that the cost of the phone is removed off of your monthly bill.
Keeping Your Internet Service Costs Low – I have had nothing but trouble with internet companies. I either couldn’t receive high speed internet service, just dial up, because of my location, or I had to pay enormous installation and service fees. I spent an entire day calling around to multiple companies just trying to find the right fit for my family. I finally did, and learned a few things in the process.
I learned it is a give or take type of situation. To keep your monthly bill down, you can choose a satellite service provider. You end up paying for the equipment and a service charge for installation initially, but your monthly bills remain reasonable. If you choose other internet companies using land lines and cable, you save the installation fees, but end up paying a little more per month for having the service.
I decided that I didn’t want to pay installation and equipment fees. However, this is how I kept my monthly bill lower than normal. Incentives. Every internet company offers promotions, periodically. These promotions last anywhere from 6 months to a year. These promotions keep your bill down and at the end of the term, you simply call in to customer service and sign up for their newest promotion. I played the system, and won! Currently, I am saving $25 per month by utilizing my service providers promotion incentives.
Cable and Satellite TV Services – Unfortunately, I cannot comment or speculate much on this topic, since I opted out of purchasing this service. My children and I aren’t home enough to warrant having TV service. We spend most of our time on the internet so I why bother getting TV?
However, I do have one small tidbit of advice to offer. Many TV service companies offer their 1st month for FREE, to try it out. Sign up! Enjoy your free month of TV. Then at the end of the month, call and tell them that you do not want to continue with the service. Then wait. 9 times out of 10, the company doesn’t come back to pick up the equipment. Then they continue to offer 4-5 channels for FREE to entice you to sign back up. You can continue to get a little bit of TV for FREE.
I hope you have found these tips and strategies helpful. Raising a family on a budget can be difficult, but knowing what you can do to keep bills down as best you can, does relieve some stress off of your wallet.
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