Save money on your gas, electric and water bills now. here’s how

This story is part Tips for the houseCNET’s collection of handy tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Bills tend to add up: in the United States, the average family spent $117 per month on their electricity bill in 2020, which is over $1,400 per year. Since then, gas and water bills and energy prices increased by 30% (PDF), according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

You can’t do much to affect the price of energy, but you can reduce energy consumption. Small changes in unplug unused devices, wash your clothes, kitchen Where adjusting your thermostat can save some money and make your home more efficient. Below are seven steps you can take to start saving electricity, gas, the water… and money.

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Obtain an electrical audit

Many electric companies offer a free audit, where they do a room-by-room review of your home and review your electric bills to help determine where you’re wasting energy. You can follow their recommendations to reduce your electricity bill.

Even if your electricity company does not provide this service, you can easily carry out an energy audit of your home using the US Department of Energy website instructions.

Adjust your thermostat

One of the easiest ways to lower your electricity bill is to adjust your thermostat. According to Ministry of Energy, you can save up to 10% on your heating and cooling costs by adjusting your thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day. In other words, keep it a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter.

An easy way to do this is to adjust your thermostat when you’re sleeping or away from home. If you have a smart thermostatyou can preset your thermostat to adjust during these times so you don’t forget them.

Turn down your water heater

Many water heater manufacturers set thermostats at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 C). But in reality, most households only need it set to a maximum of 120 F. Setting your water heater to a lower temperature can save hundreds of dollars a year.

Adjusting the temperature of a water heater is a quick and easy solution. Your water heater’s thermostat dial is probably near the bottom of the tank on the electric or gas control valve. Be sure to check the owner’s manual for instructions on adjusting it – and if you have any questions, consult a professional technician.

water heater

Adjusting your water heater can save electricity and reduce bills.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Switch off and unplug what you are not using

By leaving appliances in your home plugged in and on when you’re not using them, you needlessly increase your electricity bill.

You can start by turning off the lights when you’re not in the room or when it’s bright enough outside to rely on natural light alone. The light bulbs consume 4 cents per hour for 40 watts (although the average American is likely to pay more). This amount only increases with the power of the bulb. While that may not seem like a lot, it can definitely add up over time.

You can also save money by unplugging devices you don’t use. Phantom power, the power your devices consume when plugged in but not turned on, can cost on average $100 per year.

Use your dishwasher

It may seem counter-intuitive to suggest running an appliance to save on your electricity bill. And yes, there was a time when dishwashers used a lot more water than they do today. But the Ministry of Energy regulates the amount of water that modern dishwashers can use. Any dishwasher manufactured since 2013 is limited to using 5 gallons of water. If it is a compact size dishwasher, it is limited to 3.5 gallons.

You might think you probably use less than 5 gallons of water to wash your dishes by hand. But the US Geological Survey estimates that anywhere from 9 to 27 gallons of water to hand wash a load of dishes.

Take advantage of off-peak rates

Electricity consumption tends to be higher at certain times of the day and the year. First, demand is higher in winter and summer when people use heaters and air conditioners. It is also higher during the day and in the evening.

Some power companies offer hourly packages, increasing rates during peak hours and lowering them during off-peak hours. If you have one of these plans, you can save money by running large appliances like your dishwasher and washing machine early in the morning or late at night.

Change your air filters

Your air filter helps catch dirt, dust, pet hair and more, preventing it from entering your HVAC. When you don’t change your air filters regularly enough, that debris gets into your HVAC system and bogs it down, reducing its efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, replacing your filters on time can reduce the energy consumption of your air conditioner anywhere from 5% to 15%.

Next steps

There are many steps, big and small, you can take to reduce your usage and save money on your bills. The Ministry of Energy has an entire section of its website devoted to providing tips to help you save energy. And while many of them come at a price, there are plenty more like the ones on this list that you can do for free.