These days there are a lot of different ways that you can save money. Some people like to cut coupons, some like to sign up for deal websites. However, there are some things you can easily do around the house to save money and lower your bills. These changes will help make your home more energy efficient and help keep money in your wallet.
If you’re looking for ways to make your money go further, the best place to start is at home. It’s possible to streamline your budget and increase your monthly savings by making some simple lifestyle changes around the house. The first step is to identify the major money-wasters that are eating into your bottom line. Once you know what your biggest household expenses are, you can begin making taking steps to reduce your spending and put more money back into your pocket.
One easy way to lower your electric bill is by sealing up any holes or leaks where air might be able to escape. This may be around doors, windows, and even electrical outlets and switches. To seal up your door, you can simply take some weather stripping around the door frame to create an air tight seal. You can also look at the calking around doors and windows to see if any of it needs to be replaced or touched up. While a small hole may not seem like a big deal, it is still a space that cool air seep in or out. You can also seal electrical outlets or switches, which isn’t something people normally think about. Outlets and switches that are on outside walls can slowly seep in cold or warm air. You can seal these by taking off the face plates and adding some low flow foam around the casing. Before you put the face plate back on you can add a foam seal to help insulate and reduce air leakage.
Since energy bills mainly reflects our A/C use, changing out your old thermostat for a programmable one is probably one of the easiest ways to cut down your electric bill. Having a programmable thermostat will let you set up the temperature for times that you aren’t home, on vacation, or asleep. This will help ensure that you aren’t cooling an empty house in the middle of the summer. There are several different types of programmable thermostats. Some let you program just Monday through Friday, some let you program every day of the week, and others are learning thermostats. The Nest is a learning thermostat that is designed to learn when you are gone, when you are home, and what temperature settings will be the best setting to save you money. You don’t have to hire someone to come out and install a new thermostat; there are many different kits that make it easy for you to change them out on your own. Something else you can do to keep costs down is to do annual checks and maintenance on your air conditioner and heater. By keeping these in good condition, you will reduce the chance of it braking in the middle of a chilly night and costly repairs.
Food costs can be a major budget buster, especially if you have a larger family. These costs are easily inflated if you eat out frequently or you regularly purchase pre-made meals because you didn’t have time to cook dinner. One of the easiest ways to keep your food costs down is to cut out take-out meals or fast food.
The best way to keep grocery costs down is to plan your meals ahead of time. You can create your menu plan a week at a time or for the entire month. Before you get started with your meal plan, take some time to review the sale ads for your local grocery stores. Try to plan meals based on what’s on sale whenever possible. Avoid overstocking on items that can spoil or go bad, since food waste can end up costing you hundreds of dollars each year. Buying items on sale is also a good way to maximize the value of coupons. Coupons can be found in newspaper inserts, magazines and store sale papers. Digital coupons are also available through a number of websites and can be “clipped” directly to your grocer’s customer rewards card.
Utility bills are another big budget drain and cutting back on your energy usage can help to keep costs down. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends doing a complete assessment of your home to identify your biggest energy wasters. This means checking for possible leaks around windows and doors which can inflate your heating a cooling costs; making sure your appliances and HVAC system are properly maintained; and checking the quality of the insulation in your walls, ceilings and floors.
There are also several small things you can do to cut energy costs that can result in big savings. For example, exchanging your standard light bulbs for energy-efficient ones can cut your electricity bill by hundreds of dollars each year. Minimizing hot water usage and installing a programmable thermostat can also keep electricity costs down. You may also consider looking into renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind energy, to power your home. While solar and wind energy systems can be expensive to install, they can save you thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you’re committed to cutting costs at home, then reduce, recycle and reuse should become your new mantra. While adhering to this philosophy may require a little creativity on your part, it can ultimately help you to keep more cash in your pocket. Rather than purchasing items new, take a look around the house to see if you already have something similar that will meet your needs. Before you throw something away, consider whether it can be re-purposed and used for something else.
Another way to keep costs down is to implement a sharing system. For example, if you and your neighbor both need a new lawnmower, you could purchase the item together and share its use. It may also be worthwhile to organize a neighborhood swap meet where you and your neighbors can trade furniture, tools, household goods or other items. Doing so allows you to clear the clutter from your home and possibly pick up some of the things you need without costing a dime.
When cutting household costs, it’s important that you be able to distinguish between your needs and your wants. Go over your budget and look for expenses that are unnecessary or inflated. For example, you may consider dropping your landline telephone service if you have cell phones. If you have cell phones, you should regularly review your plan to make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t need. If you have cable television or satellite, ask yourself if you can do without the premium package or eliminate the service altogether. You may also consider consolidating your Internet, cable and telephone services at a discounted rate.
Go over your insurance coverage to make sure that you’re not paying too much for your homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Take some time to shop around for better insurance rates and ask your insurer about discounts for making certain home improvements, such as installing a security system or weather-proofing. You may also be able to get a discount if you purchase your car insurance or other policies from the same insurer.