Everyone hates bills – especially the ones you think you can’t control! Most large families think it’s impossible to cut down on their water bill, and can you really estimate how much your gas bill is going to cost? We’ve experienced both of these challenges and, over the years, we have found some nifty ways to help you cut down on your gas and water bills each month!
Before we dive into all of the ways to save money on your gas and water bill, I thought I’d give you some useful information to put all of this into context.
- Natural gas prices vary – a lot. If you look at the market rates (here), you can see how much they fluctuate and the current prices.
- Usually, your sewer and water bill will show up on the same bill. You can’t change your sewer bill so that is fixed but you can change the water bill. Just keep that in mind.
Tackle That Gas Bill
Drafts are the biggest cause of a high natural gas bill from heating. To save money, go through your home and block any drafts. You probably know where many of them are already. Just think about where those cold spots are in your home and odds are that there is an air leak from the outside. Check doors, windows and even around your dryer vent to be sure everything is properly sealed.
- You can seal up the windows by using a Draft Snake. Purchase these at your local home improvement store. Cut it the width of your window, place it under the sill and close the window! It works like a charm.
- Another way is to caulk around the areas that are leaking. While this is a normal part of home maintenance, it will prove to be a huge cost savings! Use your hand to feel for cold spots in leaky areas and you will feel the cold areas. Plug those gaps with a good quality caulking. It is easy to do.
- There is a plastic wrap put out by 3M and Duck that is called Window Insulation Film that you can tape around your windows as well that can be found at your local home improvement store. You tape it up in the fall and take it down in the spring. If you are careful, you can reuse this for 1-3 years.
- Buy the electrical socket insulation. They come already cut and ready to install. You simply unscrew your current socket cover, place the piece of insulation over the top and reapply the electrical socket cover. This is considered one of the easiest and cheapest ways to save energy.
- Check the ductwork in your attic. Climb up to the attic with HVAC or foil tape. You can re-apply any leaky areas. There isn’t any secret way to do this. Just simply apply to any areas that are drafty and leaking cool air.
Use Thermal Curtains
Thermal or blackout curtains are a great way to help keep heat in your home and cold out. Just this one simple change in each room can save you hundreds in natural gas heating costs each year. If you add this to sealing your window in the above-mentioned techniques, you will be toasty warm this winter and saving money at the same time.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Playing with the thermostat is one of the biggest reasons for high heating costs no matter what method of heating you use. You can combat this cost by installing a programmable thermostat and even a lock box for it if needed. There is no reason for the thermostat to be on full blast all day when no one is at home. Program it for when you are home and turn it down again when you get ready to go to bed. Save a few bucks by layering on more blankets and socks.
If your home has tile or hardwood floors, use a rug to help insulate it. You will spend less to heat each room meaning you’ll save on natural gas costs. These don’t have to be expensive. If you are located near an Ikea, stop in there for some reasonably priced options that will end up bringing your gas bill down drastically! Be creative and look around. Thrift stores plus cleaning can be cheaper than an expensive new one. Neighborhood swap shops are another option. Don’t be shy, think out of the box. Try out Big Lots/TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods/Ross even as they have great deals as well.
Use Alternative Methods of Cooking
If you cook with natural gas, finding an alternative way to cook can be a great way to save a small amount. Using small appliances like a Crock-pot or Instant Pot or even your grill a few times a week will make a difference. Another option will be cooking several meals at the same time since the stove/oven is already on. This is a great time to save money and use your meal planning recipes that you have saved up and wanting to try. Try a list of more than 20 freezer crockpot meals.
Block the vents to the rooms you do not use
Your home improvement store will sell these magnetic cover-ups for just a couple bucks to lay over the vents that send air to rooms that are not in use. We use them in our spare bedrooms all the time so the heat will gently pass by the outtake vent and move to the next room. Why warm up a room nobody will go into?
Only do laundry when you have a full load
A big waste of gas is heating up water for a small load of laundry that you may do a couple of times a week. It is best to only do full loads and try to use as much cold water as possible.
Only wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher
Using the same premise as above, only allowing your water to heat up once a day rather than 2 or 3 times a day is a huge cost saver. This is also not the time to do hand washing if at all possible. The constant running of hot water going straight down the drain is not helping your checkbook at all. If you need/want to do hand wash, fill a tub up of for washing and a tub up for rinsing like our grandmothers used to do. You may have to fill it up a couple of times but it will be minimal compared to the amount going down the drain.
BONUS! Embrace cozy socks! We all have them and we all love them! My favorites are the ones with the fleece in the center.
Tips to Reduce Your Water Bill
Time your showers
Your shower uses approximately 2.1 gallons per minute which means that a 30-minute shower is going to cost you quite a bit. Instead of letting that water run down the drain, set a 5-minute timer for each shower. If you need longer to do things such as shave, do so in the tub while turning the water on and off when you need it. It may not seem as if this would save you much money, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it does.
Wear your clothing longer
This may sound nasty, but some pieces of clothing such as jeans do not need to be washed after one wash. In fact, most denim manufacturers recommend against doing so since it wears the denim down quicker. By washing clothing like jeans less often than you currently are, you will spend less money on not just your water bill, but your detergent, fabric softener and wear and tear on your washer/dryer. Also, many clothing items are worn for partial days or just don’t need the cleaning as often.
Never wash a small load
The small or medium load setting on your washer should become off-limits to anyone. Simply put, smaller loads are a waste of money since they use just as much water and just as much power to run. Instead, hold smaller loads until you have a full load to run. Your water (and power) bills will thank you.
Always run a full load in dishwasher
A sure fire way to save money on your water bill is to only run your dishwasher when it is full. Partial loads still use the same amount of water so it is wasting water and power/gas!
Avoid hand washing dishes
Hand washing dishes wastes so much water until you choose to use the old-fashioned tubs of water as our moms or grandma did. You will fill up the plastic tub with soapy water and then rinse in a separate tub of clean rinsing water. You will most likely have to refill the rinse one more than once but it still won’t be the same amount of water that you are wasting by continuing to let it run down the drain.
Check for leaks around all of your water sources
Even if you do not own your home, it is going to end up saving you a ton of money to make minor fixes around faucets that are leaking as you are paying for a slow drip.
Each drip represents pennies going down the drain. Your pennies.
Replace faucets/toilets/shower heads
It might be time to replace the faucets for new ones or replace shower heads with ones that release less water. List to your toilet. If it is cycling more, it might be time to make some internal repairs. Again, this all adds dollars back into your wallet.
Turn off the water to brush your teeth
We should be brushing our teeth for one full minute each day but how much total water is that sending down the drain at the same time? Create new habits by rinsing your brush and then turning off the water until you are almost finished and then turn it back on again.
Some of these little adjustments to your home may seem like a nuisance but all of these together will make a huge impact on your bills! Every little change you choose to make to adjust energy savings in your home is simply more money in your pocket.
The biggest factor in these bills is waste. Does your home need to be 74 degrees while you’re at work and is that 2-hour shower really necessary? Everyone is different and each family needs to decide what they can cut back on and what they can’t. Start with cutting back on your heating your home to 74 degrees when you are not home. Once you have adjusted, trying cutting back from 74 degrees when you are at home to 73 and see if you can adjust. Maybe you can dial it back a little more now to 71 and just add another sweater or extra socks on. Each baby step will add money right back to your wallet!