Surprises can be a good thing — unless the surprise is that your utility bill has gone way, way up. If you’ve found yourself wondering how to save money on utilities in an apartment, you’re in the right place. Read on to find out why your utility bills may have increased, and how to conserve utilities and reduce your bill moving forward.
Why Are My Utility Bills So High?
Utilities are an Elastic Cost
As the name implies, utility costs such as electricity, water, and natural gas are typically dependent upon how much you use. For that reason, utilities are typically an elastic expense — the number can change month to month based on your usage. So, if you use more of a given utility, you may find that your utility bill increases in kind.
Higher Seasonal Utility Costs
Seasonality can impact your utility costs, too. Many utilities are reliant upon nonrenewable resources — meaning that there’s a limited supply. When demand increases, costs tend to increase, too. For example, you may find that your water bill increases in the summer months, particularly if you live in an area prone to seasonal drought. Or, you could find that your electricity and natural gas bills are highest in summer or winter because more folks are using their heating and cooling systems.
High Utility “Time of Use” Rates
The time of day can have an impact on your utility bills, too. Some utilities, like electricity, may have an additional high-utility time of use rate. This typically occurs because many people are using that utility during a given point in time or the utility system itself can’t handle the demand. These periods of increased demand mean that utility companies are working to keep up with producing the necessary supply — resulting in higher costs. Sometimes these higher costs work as a way to deter high use.
Clerical or Field Errors
If you can’t chalk up your high utility cost to increased use, increased utility costs, or a penalty rate — you might need to do further investigation. It’s certainly possible that a clerical or field error occurred: your meter may have been incorrectly read, or someone could have made a typing or billing mistake. If you suspect that could be the case, give your utility company a call and explain your situation.
How to Save Money and Conserve Utilities
When your utility bill is high, it’s time to take action. Use these tips and learn ways to save water and electricity.
How to Lower Your Water Bill
Turn off Water When Not in Use
If your water bill is high, get in the habit of switching off your faucet. Consider switching off the water when you’re:
- Washing your face
- Sudsing up your hands
- Brushing your teeth
- Showering: soaping, shaving, exfoliating, or shampooing
Getting in the habit of making this simple swap can help you conserve water and drastically reduce your water bill.
Practice Efficient Water Use
Water use is unavoidable — you need to use water to wash your clothes, dishes, and — well — yourself! However, you can practice efficient water usage. To start, consider using the dishwasher instead of handwashing. Contrary to popular belief, hand-washing dishes uses more water than your dishwasher. For the most efficient results, fill your dishwasher completely before running. Your dishwasher isn’t the only appliance you should be filling up. Aim to conserve both water and energy by running full loads of laundry.
And, while it may be tough to hear, consider shortening your showers. Aim to take as short of a shower as possible — or turn off the water — rather than standing under the showerhead until the water runs cold.
Make Smart Adjustments
Some adjustments may be necessary if your water bill is higher than usual. Don’t forget to take a peek at your appliances (dishwasher, toilets, sinks, and faucets) and piping. If you find a leak or issue, you should repair it or get in touch with your apartment’s maintenance crew.
In addition to making repairs, consider opting for water-efficient appliances or making efficient swaps. You may be able to inexpensively install aerators or low-pressure options for faucets and showerheads — just don’t forget to retain the original hardware and reinstall it before you move out.
How to Reduce Your Electricity Bill
Electricity is responsible for powering many things in your home, from your lights to appliances to your personal electronics. If you don’t have a gas hook-up, electricity may also be powering your heat and air conditioning, too.
Have you found yourself researching “how to reduce my energy bill”? Thankfully, with these changes — and some energy-efficient swaps — you may be able to drastically reduce your high electricity bill.
Turn off Heat Dry on Your Dishwasher
If you use Heat Dry mode on your dishwasher, consider switching it off. Heat drying uses an estimated 15% more electricity than the air drying mode — and makes no difference in how clean your dishes are.
Use Energy at Off-Peak Times
It’s not uncommon that electrical costs vary by the hour — and you can avoid a high electrical bill by opting to use energy at off-peak times whenever possible. Consider running appliances, like your dishwasher, or charging up your personal electronic devices at night when rates tend to be lower.
Unplug, Flip the Switch, or Power Down
Did you know that your electronics and appliances may still be using electricity, even when they’re switched off and not in use? This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “phantom load” or “vampire energy,” and you can prevent it by unplugging your electronics when they’re not in use. If you don’t want to unplug each cord by hand, consider using a smart power strip that you can easily unplug.
To prevent further unwanted power zaps, be sure to turn off your computer monitor, gaming systems, and TVs when they’re not in use.
Finally, be mindful of lighting! Get in the habit of flipping the lights off when you leave the room.
Use Less Electricity by Making Simple Swaps
Spending a few extra dollars on energy-efficient lightbulbs, a new air filter, or smart power strips can help you save big time on your electric bill down the line. Consider switching out all of your lightbulbs to energy-efficient LED lights and opting for smart power strips. And — don’t forget to keep up with your HVAC unit’s air filter. Swapping out your air filter regularly can help your unit work more efficiently and, in turn, reduce the amount of electricity it uses.
How to Reduce Your Natural Gas or Electricity Bill
First, let’s define what may use natural gas in your apartment. Typically, natural gas is used in air conditioning and heating, gas ranges, gas ovens, clothes dryers, refrigerators, and freezers. However, this can vary depending on the appliance and your hook-ups. In some instances, these could be powered by electricity. When in doubt, ask your landlord or leasing company to be sure.
If you find your natural gas or electric bill is high, these tips can help you slash your use and reduce your utility bills.
Don’t Fight Seasonal Temperature Changes
Whether your AC and heat are electrical or gas-powered, consider raising the temperature in the hot summer months and lowering the temperature in the cold winter months. This way, your HVAC unit won’t need to run as much — or zap as much energy.
Instead of raising or lowering the temp, try making these adjustments:
- Dress for the Season: in the summer, cool off with lightweight, sweat-wicking fabrics. In the winter months, bundle up with insulating layers (and your favorite pair of slippers)!
- Weatherstrip and Insulate: Poor insulation or worn seals can allow for cold or hot air to come in from outside. Consider using a weatherstrip on your front door, balcony door, and any leaky windows.
- Use the Greenhouse Effect. On cold, sunny days, opening the curtains and letting sunlight in is an energy-efficient way to warm up your apartment. However, when it’s hot outside, consider closing your curtains during daylight hours to prevent excess sunlight from warming your space up.
Run Your Washing Machine on Cold
Washing your laundry on hot may be to blame for high natural gas or electricity bills, depending upon whether your water heater and washer are gas or electric-powered. According to appliance manufacturer GE, “75 to 90 percent of all the energy your washer uses goes to warming up the water, so switching to colder water can lower your gas or electric bill.” GE also notes that washing your clothes on cold isn’t just good for your utility bill, it can also help you keep your clothes looking and feeling new for longer. We’ll call that a win-win!
Line or Hang Dry Your Laundry
Reduce your electricity or gas bill by eliminating your dryer completely whenever possible. This will help you save on your gas or electric bill and in many cases is the best choice for lightweight clothes and delicate fibers, like athletic materials, denim, and knits.
Of course, some exceptions apply: heavy items like towels or sweats are worth tossing in the dryer to prevent molding or mildew.
How to Lower Your Waste and Sewage Bill
Have you noticed a sudden spike in your waste or sewage bill? Follow these tips now to reduce next month’s bill.
How to Reduce Your Waste Bill
Sometimes waste bills are fixed, and you’ll be expected to pay a set monthly rate. But, in some cases, you may be charged by the bag for waste pickup. If you’ve found that your waste bill has increased, remember that from grocery bags to disposable coffee cups, every ounce adds up.
Make these eco-conscious swaps and start reusing more and tossing less:
- Use reusable water bottles, coffee cups, coffee filters, and storage containers
- Eliminate take-out to avoid to-go container trash
- Avoid products with dense packaging and buy in bulk when possible
- Recycle if possible
- Consider composting
How to Reduce Your Sewage Bill
It’s not uncommon that sewage is a fixed cost. However, if you discover that your sewer bill isn’t a flat rate and has gotten costly, taking measures to reduce your water use should do the trick.
Find a New Apartment With ApartmentSearch
Sometimes old buildings with bad insulation or inefficient appliances are to blame for your high utility bills — and your best course of action to reduce your utility bill might be to seek out a new place. Searching for an apartment community with utilities included? You’re sure to find an ideal apartment with ApartmentSearch! ApartmentSearch has thousands of apartment communities in our database. Start your apartment search today with ApartmentSearch!