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Mar 2024

4 Ways To Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills




Why you need an “energy audit”


How to be energy-efficient at home


Green habits you can adopt today




Why you need an “energy audit”


How to be energy-efficient at home


Green habits you can adopt today

Monthly utility costs can sometimes feel like a major blow to our budgets, especially for our first-time homeowner friends.

But before you resign yourself to a life of flickering lights and lukewarm showers, know this: there are ways to fight back against sky-high utility bills. In fact, with a few smart strategies and a little extra effort, you can significantly reduce your monthly energy and water consumption, leaving more money in your pocket at the end of each month. 

1. Conduct an Energy Audit 

An energy audit is a win-win for both your wallet and the environment. By identifying areas where your home wastes energy, you can save money on your bills and reduce your carbon footprint simultaneously.

Think of energy audits like taking your car to the mechanic or going to the doctor for a checkup.

What is an Energy Audit? 

A qualified professional will examine your home’s energy efficiency, which means “using less energy to get the same job done – and in the process, cutting energy bills and reducing pollution," according to Energy Star.

The professional will analyze how much energy your home uses and identify areas where it might be running less efficiently than you’d like. It's kind of like getting a detailed report card on your home's energy habits. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll inform you of potential risks on your property.

How Does an Energy Audit Work? 

There’s no one standard method for energy audits, but the process typically involves a combination of actions: 

  • Evaluating your utility bills: This helps the auditor understand your current energy usage patterns. 

  • Conducting an inspection: The professional will look for potential areas of energy loss, like drafty windows, old appliances, or faulty insulation.  

  • Utilizing specialized equipment: This might include tools like blower doors to detect air leaks or infrared cameras to identify heat loss.  

After evaluating your home, your auditor will give you a detailed list of energy efficiency improvements you could make. Implementing their recommendations might lead to significant savings on your utility bills. 

Who Conducts an Energy Audit? 

Certified energy auditors are trained professionals who can provide a comprehensive, and most importantly, accurate assessment. You can find qualified auditors through your local utility company, government agencies, or online directories. 

So, if you're committed to lowering your energy costs, an energy audit is an excellent first step. Much like homeownership, it’s an investment that can pay off for the many years to come.

2. Make the Switch to Energy-Efficiency  

Once you've identified areas for improvement through an energy audit, consider upgrading to energy-efficient appliances. While the initial investment might seem a little daunting, the long-term savings are nothing to scoff at. Here are three power players (or savers) to consider: 

Tankless Water Heater 

Unlike traditional water heaters that constantly heat and reheat a large tank of water, tankless water heaters heat water only when you need it. This on-demand approach eliminates standby energy losses, leading to major savings on your water heating costs. 

However, one potential drawback of tankless water heaters is “reduced flow rates.” 

Reduced flow rates can result in insufficient heating and low water temperatures. Consult a plumber to determine the right flow rate for your home. Keep in mind that higher flow rates generally mean a more expensive water heater. 

Front-Load Washing Machine  

Compared to their top-load counterparts, front-load washing machines use much less water and energy per wash cycle. This is due to their efficient design and ability to use high-speed spinning to extract more water from clothes, reducing drying time and overall energy consumption. 

Front-load washers are also considerably gentler on clothes compared to top-loaders, making them a better choice for delicate fabrics or items prone to shrinking in warm water.

And while front-load washers typically boast lower operating costs and a better cleaning performance, their upfront cost tends to be higher compared to top-loaders. Additionally, front-load washers often require longer wash cycles, which can increase your laundry time.  

Programmable Thermostat 

A programmable thermostat is your home's personal climate control assistant. They come in countless makes and models these days, and you can set the device to automatically adjust the temperature based on your family’s daily routine and preferences. 

Your home won't be needlessly heated or cooled when you're not there, preventing energy waste and a larger bottom line on your utility bills. Plus, who wouldn’t love coming home to a perfectly comfortable temperature after a long day – no matter the season? 

Looking for more ways to decrease your home living costs? The Knowledge Center has got you covered! 

3. Adopt Other Smart Habits  

Beyond investing in energy-efficient appliances, there are a slew of everyday habits you can adopt today to further reduce your energy consumption and utility bills. What may seem like fairly small changes now can come together to make a lasting impact:  

Change Air Filters Regularly  

Clogged air filters restrict airflow, forcing the system to work harder to maintain that desired temperature. This can quickly snowball into higher energy consumption and potentially even reduced efficiency for your heating and cooling system. 

So, make a habit of changing your air filter regularly, around every 90 days, to ensure your system is operating at peak performance.  

Only Run Appliances When They’re Full 

Sometimes, convenience should take a backseat to efficiency. 

Resist the urge to run your dishwasher or washing machine with just a few items inside. Look, we hate having dirty dishes in the sink just as much as the next mortgage lender’s blog, but by waiting until you have a full load, you'll utilize the appliance's capacity to its full potential. You’ll reduce the number of cycles needed to clean, and consequently, the amount of energy consumed. 

Patience is (supposedly) a virtue, especially when it comes to saving money on your utility bills! 

Unplug Appliances When They’re Not in Use 

Many electronics, even when switched off, still draw a small amount of standby power, also known as "phantom energy." Spooky, right? 

This constant trickle of lost energy adds up. To combat this, develop the habit of unplugging smaller appliances like blenders, coffee makers, and microwaves/toasters when they’re not in use. 

It’s a simple yet effective way to save money, electricity, and reduce the risk of shocks or fires. 

You can shield electrical outlets with a cover, too!

4. Conserve Water (When Possible) 

While we’ve really been focusing on reducing energy consumption, we haven’t forgotten about the importance of conserving water for your utility bills: 

Take Shorter Showers

Let's be honest, sometimes we all get lost in the feeling of a long, hot shower. While it's tempting to linger, every minute counts when it comes to water usage. Aim for shorter showers, ideally around five minutes or less. This simple change will significantly reduce your water consumption without sacrificing hygiene.

And remember to turn off the water while you brush your teeth!

Inspect for Leaks 

Even the tiniest of leaks can waste a surprising amount of water. Get proactive and check for leaks regularly around your faucets, toilets, and pipes. Say, once every couple of months. 

Look for drips, hissing sounds, or sudden spikes in your water bill. Addressing leaks early can save you money and prevent water from going to waste. 

Don’t Forget the Outside of Your Home 

Don't forget about your outdoor water usage! Here are some tips to consider: 

  • Water your lawn and plants only when needed: Adjust your watering schedule based on the season and weather conditions. Early morning is the best time to water, as you’ll minimize water loss due to evaporation. 

  • Invest in a rain barrel: Collect rainwater from your roof to use for watering your plants or washing your car.  

  • Opt for a broom instead of a hose: When cleaning debris from your driveway or sidewalk, grab a broom instead of reaching for the hose. Making this switch can save a significant amount of water. 

Keep the Savings Rolling 

Managing your monthly utility costs is one of the many important aspects of responsible homeownership. 

Luckily, there are additional tools available to help you on your path. Consider exploring your energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) options. These specialized mortgages can help you finance the cost of energy-efficient upgrades to your home. 

Sounds interesting, right? We’d love to get connected to discuss your EEM options. But in the meantime, stick around the Knowledge Center to learn about other ways you can save money at home each month.