If there's one thing that remains consistent with any home or apartment, it's the fact that you'll be paying utility bills. Whether you're splitting them with roommates or dealing with them on your own, the utilities have to get paid. If you feel like you've been spending too much of your hard-earned money on running water and keeping the lights on, there are some ways to lower your bill and save a little cash. Here's our rundown of how to lower your monthly utility bills.

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What is considered a utility bill?

A utility bill usually includes electricity, water, and gas charges. Some states also combine these with sewage and garbage, so be sure to check your bill to see exactly what it includes. A utility bill will show the breakdown of energy and power used to keep the water running, the lights on, and the heater operating. The bills usually come once a month and generally it do not include things like internet, cable, or rent.

How do I keep my electric bill down?

A great place to start when thinking about managing your electric bill is to do a  home energy assessment. To perform this assessment, you'll need the following information about your home, including

  • your zip code
  • your home's square footage
  • the different fuels used in your home
  • amount of each of the last 12 months' utility bills

From there, the assessment will give you insight on what is contributing the most to your monthly charges. Is it the heating and cooling system? Is it the use of everyday appliances like lights and televisions? Taking this assessment will help you understand where you should cut back in order to reduce your utility bill.

Once you know what's contributing most to your electric bill, you can make some changes. Turning off lights and fans, plugging electronics into power strips, and choosing  ENERGY STAR certified appliances  are all easy ways to reduce your electric bill.

How can I lower my electric bill in the winter?

Maybe your energy assessment shows that, during the winter months, most of your bill is made up of heating charges. There are plenty of ways to lower your electric bill, starting with some simple changes.

  • Make sure your attic has proper air sealing, ventilation, and insulation to prevent any drafts from coming in through the roof
  • Install  window film insulator  to seal off gaps in your window and window frame; these are really cheap options and they truly make a big difference
  • Another way to reduce your electric bill in the winter is to set your water heater to around 120 degrees
  • If you're traveling or going on vacation, turn off electric heaters and turn down gas heaters since you won't need them while you're gone and can easily switch them back on when you get home.

How can I lower my electric bill in the summer?

In the summer, your air conditioner is probably your largest contributor to your electric bill.

  • Consider using ceiling fans as much as possible to alleviate some of the A/C usage, close the drapes and blinds to keep heat out, and shut doors and windows during the day to keep the house as cool as possible
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, summer is another great time to use it
  • You can program the air conditioner to a certain temperature when you're home, and lower it while you're away

How do I lower my water bill?

  • Start by checking out your shower head. You'll want to switch to a low-flow shower head to reduce the amount of water you use every minute
  • Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving
  • Switching to an ENERGY STAR certified washing machine and dishwasher can also help lower your water bill without making any lifestyle changes

How do I lower my gas bill?

Your gas bill is largely comprised of your heating usage, so getting that under control will reduce your costs.

  • A great way to reduce your gas usage is to use a programmable thermostat– you can pre-set the temperature for a certain time so that when you're gone or sleeping, the heater isn't running constantly at a high temperature
  • Another simple trick is to clean your air filters; dirty or clogged filters are much less efficient and can lead to higher gas bills

Whether you're  moving into a new apartment  or already have a great one, using these tips can save you money on your utilities so you'll have some extra cash to spend on the things you want.


This article was originally shared on Zumper.