Considering it’s winter for approximately 11.5 months per year in Canada, saving money on heating is important to everyone. I know I sure don’t like to go outside in the cold. But it’s not just heating costs that can add up. Between heat, electricity, water, phone, and internet, most of us are spending hundreds each month on utilities. Since there’s no avoiding them, wouldn’t it be nice to save a few bucks just by making some painless changes?
Here are some tips to keep your utility bills reasonable.
1. Programmable thermostat
I loved the programmable thermostat I had in my old house.
With just a few pushes of a button, I was able to ensure not only I’d be warm when I came home from work, but I’d also be saving money by keeping the temperature cooler while I wasn’t around. And as a bonus, my gas bill went down about 10% after I actually got around to programming it.
2. Low-flow shower head
Back in 2008, I undertook a bit of a renovation in my bathroom, installing what I dubbed “a shower for tall people.” In the process, I acquired a rainfall showerhead, which just happened to be a low-flow variety.
Although I couldn’t notice any difference in the water pressure or the quality of my shower, I was using approximately 40% less water than before. Living alone, I probably saved a couple of bucks per month on my water bill. A family of four could be looking at an easy $10 per month in savings.
No, not football. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are an easy way for you to save a few bucks on your power bill each month.
According to U.S. based research, an average home that makes the switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs can save between $10 and $15 per month on their power bill. Sure, the cost to buy them is higher at the beginning, but it only takes a few months for the bulbs to pay for themselves. That’s a pretty good ROI.
Soon, CFLs will be the only choice, at least for Canadians. The government has banned sales of 100 and 75 Watt incandescent bulbs, and will ban sales of 60 and 40 Watt bulbs at the end of the year. If you’re a fan of the old-fashioned ones, you’d better stock up now.
4. Do an energy audit
Although an energy audit will likely cost a couple hundred bucks, most people who get them done see their gas bill drop between 25 and 50% a month, assuming they fix the problems. Old houses are especially vulnerable to leaks and drafts.
Plus, there are all sorts of tax incentives for home improvements that improve energy efficiency. Everything from programmable thermostats to new windows could be eligible for tax rebates, depending on the rules in your province. An energy audit gives you insights into how to invest smartly in the energy saving renos your house needs.
5. Ditch the landline
I have no idea why anybody with a smartphone has a landline.
It’s easy to stay in touch with family and friends using email, Facebook, and Skype. Plus, there are countless services that let you dial actual phones while using wifi, all for a fraction of the cost of a landline. And hey, you’ll cut down on the telemarketers.
My 81-year old grandmother figured out Skype -- on her own! If she can do it, anyone can.
6. And while you’re at it, cable
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one reason to keep cable, and that’s live sports. If you’re not into watching the latest game, you might as well ditch that expensive cable package.
There’s so much content on Netflix that you could start watching today and never get to the end of it. There’s even more content on Youtube, Hulu, and all those other websites. Plus, all the major Canadian networks show reruns of their shows online.
It isn’t the 1970s anymore; there are lots of different ways to get great content. With all the options out there, ditching cable is easy. Just don’t waste all the savings on a super-fast internet package!