Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Five ways to save on your utility spending

When establishing a weekly, monthly, or even annual household budget, there are costs that we deem to be fixed, and costs that vary from month to month. Most people tend to think of utilities as a roughly fixed cost: even if the figure you pay isn't identical from month to month, it's very close. But it's possible for this figure to vary greatly...especially if you have discovered ways to cut down on the amount of money you spend in this area.

  1. Be sure to have adequate insurance coverage. Making sure that your property, as well as the appliances therein, are covered comprehensively by your insurance plan can help you save money in the long run. The reason? If you find a portion of your home's structure, or an electrical-dependent (or water-dependent) appliance that is impaired in its functioning, it is more than likely to be using far more resources than if it were running properly. Having adequate insurance coverage enables you to have such problematic fixtures repaired or replaced right away in order to avoid the wasted costs of operating these fixtures with a defect.

  2. Use aerators. Aerator screens are wonderful little devices that attach to faucets. They work by incorporating air into the water stream to increase the perceived pressure of the water as it hits you. This is advantageous because instead of relying on the water-wasting method of increasing the water-flow (and thereby, water consumption) of your faucet in order to increase pressure, the same effect is achieved without drawing upon additional resources. Your house may already have them on one or two of your faucets, but it is unlikely that all of your water fixtures have them. If attaching aerators on all of your faucets seems to daunting a task, identify the faucets in your home where you tend to require strong water pressure, and start with those.

  3. Place a container of water in your toilet tank. Every time you flush the toilet, the tank refills by drawing up a set amount of water (ie enough water to fill the tank). If you see to it that a portion of the tank is always full, then this is a portion that will not require replacement every time you flush. What you are effectively doing is decreasing the volume of your tank. Caution should be taken with this method though, to ensure that you still have enough water cycling through your tank to effectively flush. Otherwise, you run the risk of a clogged toilet. Also, flushing your “efficient” tank twice wastes more water than flushing your standard toilet, so you want to make sure that you avoid the issue of too little water.

  4. Use caulking in the winter. Using a caulking gun, seal the edges of your windows. The amount of air, and thus heating, that escapes through these tiny openings will shock you. Caulking is easy to apply, takes very little time to set, and is easy to remove once the season is over. All you have to do is loosen an end and give it a tug. If there are windows in your house that you open frequently throughout winter, caulking may be a nuisance to keep removing and reapplying for those. However, if there are windows in your home that are relatively unused, applying caulking to those will save you tremendous amounts in energy spending.

  5. Grow things. At this time of year, it's hard to thinking ahead to those hot summer months when we'll be seeking refuge from relentless heat, but those days come every year, so there's good reason to believe they're on their way again this year. “Greening” your property can actually lower the amounts you spend on air conditioning significantly. One way of doing this is to grow grass, or another appropriate plant, on your roof. This can lower your home's temperature by a full two degrees. Additionally, planting trees in a way that blocks excess sunlight out of targeted rooms can achieve similar results.
Do you have a favourite tip for saving money on your utility bills? We'd love to hear it!


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