Here’s some good news: At least 120 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which cut the corporate rate from 35% to 21%. Utility companies are passing on the tax savings in the form of lower rates for customers.
I hope your utility companies are among that 120 and by now have let you know that your rates have gone down, or that they will be very soon. But don’t assume there’s nothing else you can do to stop spending so much of your hard-earned money on utility bills!
So exactly how can you lower your utility bills? Check out these six projects each of which can be completed in 15-minutes or less, requiring no advanced skills or special equipment. Soon you’ll be keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket—not your utility providers’.
Ready? … Set … Go!
Hot water-saving showerhead
If you multi-task while waiting for your shower to warm up—making the bed or pot of coffee—the hot water could have been running for minutes, wasting water and adding unnecessary dollars to your utility bills.
The Ladybug Showerhead adapter saves the hot water. Ladybug is so smart, it senses the moment the water is warm and stops the flow to a tiny trickle. When you’re ready, just flip a switch to restart the normal flow.
This adapter saves $75 in hot water costs plus 2,700 gallons of water each year, based on a family of three showering daily and saving one minute of hot water per shower.
Detect power leaks
The Black & Decker TLD100 Energy Series Thermal Leak Detector is an amazing tool that uses infrared sensors to measure surface temperature to help homeowners track down power-draining drafts in areas where energy is leaking out of your home.
This detector comes with a 5-step guide to fixing basic energy leaks. Plugging leaks can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. This device helps you decide where to seal and insulate your home. Comes with a two-year warranty.
You can cut 10 percent from your energy costs by properly sealing and insulating areas around the home to make it as airtight as possible. Start with all of the light switches and electrical outlets.
Install foam inserts to stop warmed or cooled air from being sucked out of the house through the air gaps around every switch and outlet. Simply remove the cover plate, pop in a gasket and replace the plate.
Water heater blanket
Just like insulating your walls or roof, insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency and save you money each month. Check to see if your tank has insulation with an R-value of at least 24.
If not, consider insulating your water tank to save up to 9% in water heating costs. You can very inexpensive find pre-cut water heater blankets. If you don’t know your water heater tank’s R-value, touch it. A tank that is warm to the touch is heating the water but also the area in which it is located and needs additional insulation.
Smart power strips
Turn off all the lights then walk through your home, and you’ll probably see green and red “eyes” peering through the darkness. All of those glowing LEDs, clocks and power switches are sneaky electronic vampires. This phantom power drain costs you money, and wastes electricity.
Smart power strips like this Wifi Smart Power Strip work to reduce your power usage by automatically shutting down power to products that go into standby mode (no more crawling under desks and furniture to manually switch a power strip to OFF). Amazon Alexa and Google Home compatible.
Smart power strips will save you some serious cash. Statistics vary, but experts say standby power consumption in an average home ranges from 5 to 10 percent of your household energy consumption.
A programmable thermostat lets homeowners program temperature settings for different times of the day and, with some models, different days of the week. For example, a programmable thermostat can be set to increase or decrease the temperature setting during the day when the family is at work or school.
It can also be used to automatically adjust the temperature at night when everybody is sleeping, and then to reset the temperature a few minutes before reveille.
There are many programmable thermostats available ranging in price. The Emerson Sensi Smart UP500W Programmable WiFi thermostat, pictured, is one of the best in-home temperature controls you can buy.
In addition to 7-day programming and vacation mode, the Sensi Smart can be adjusted via the Internet. And with the latest model, it is also compatible with Amazon Alexa. So if your plans keep you away from home longer than planned, you can adjust the temperature settings from any Internet-capable computer or the Wink app on your phone.
There are less expensive models that perform very well, but without the Internet connectivity option. The Best Inexpensive basic programmable thermostat is the Lux Products TX9600TS Universal. It offers 7-day programming, touchscreen, and vacation mode.
Question: What 15-minute money-saving project have you tackled recently?
First published: 9-11-18; Revised and updated 9-02-19
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