This weekend your challenge is to find ways to lower your monthly bills or your utilities. People are often complacent about how much they pay for water and electricity, because they figure that the prices are set and they only have on provider to choose from. This does make it more difficult to lower your costs, but you can find ways to work around this and to pay less on utilities each month. Fall is an excellent time to do this, because you should be winterizing your home now. You can make many of these changes while preparing your home for winter.
First, look at ways you can lower your electric and heating bill. A simple way is to switch your light bulbs to CFLs, if you have not done that already. You can save money on your electricity bill by doing this. Another way you can lower your heating and cooling costs is to install a thermostat with a timer that will turn the air or heat on and off according to your schedule. This can make a big difference in your heating costs. They are not difficult to install yourself. If you are renting, you may need to check with your landlord before you make the change, but most landlords will be okay with you making this type of change.
Another thing you can do is to wrap your electric water heater in a blanket. They sell these at the hardware stores, and it is not difficult to wrap the blanket and tape it into place. There are instructions in the packaging, and this will help you save on the costs of heating your water, because it will prevent heat loss from your tank. If you have a gas heater, it is recommended that you have it wrapped professionally, to be safe. You can also have a professional install heat traps on the pipes going in and out of the water heater. This does require soldering, which means you do want a professional to do it.
Another way to save money is to work to reduce the drafts in your house. If you have cracks around your doors, you can buy foam tape that you use to line the cracks. This works well to stop the warm air from rushing out. If you have older drafty windows, you can buy plastic at the hardware store that you place over the windows and then use a hair dryer to attach it to the windows. It shrinks and helps to block the air that escapes out of the window. These are all steps you can take if you are renting an apartment or if you own your home.
If you own your home, you may consider switching out to more energy efficient appliances and installing more insulation in your attic. These projects may be done one at a time over several years. Do not go into debt to make the changes. You can save up to make the changes over time, or as things break, just make sure you are replacing them with the most energy efficient options. You can install a rainwater capturing system with your rain gutters to capture water for your garden. You can replace your old water heater with a tankless water heater. You may also save up to install solar panels, so you can lower your energy use. These changes may take time, but you will be able to save money over time if you make these changes.
Many of these changes are similar to green changes you may be considering making as well. If you need to reduce your water bill, you can use lo-flow showerheads, and toilets in your home as well. It is not difficult to change out your showerhead, and you may be able to do it when you are renting. As you look around your house this weekend, make a list of things you can do to reduce the amount of energy you use, to save on your utility costs.