Utility bills are the second most costly expense for many homeowners, second only to a mortgage. Unlike your mortgage, monthly utility bills fluctuate, rising and falling several hundred dollars a month between hot and cold seasons. Take steps to lower your home utility costs to raise your personal savings and have money to cover housing maintenance and repairs.
Small changes that turn into utility bill savings
Included among utility bills are water, sewage, trash, electric and gas services. Some jurisdictions consider telephone bills to be utility bills as well. Even in mild climates, a 1500 square foot house can use $100 a month in electricity alone.
Own a house that operates mostly off gas and you're gas bill may easily outpace your electric bill. The one area where utility bills can rise, whether your house operates mostly off of electricity or gas, regards hot water. Which leads into the first easy action that can reduce your utility bill.
Turn the temperature down on your hot water heater. You'll need to mark the current temperature setting on your hot water heater. Then, mark where you want to set the lower temperature. Measure the adjusted temperature. To save on your utility bill, you can also turn your water heater off when you're away from home for a day or longer.
Contact your utility company and schedule a review of your home. An experienced representative will come to your home and find leaks and worn filters. The representative will let you know if any appliances need to be replaced.
Keep utility bill savings going
Switch air conditioners and heaters off when you leave home for work. Use floor and ceiling fans when it's not especially hot outside. After several days, your body's internal thermostat may adjust, making it easier for you to get comfortable without turning on the air conditioner.
Close doors to rooms that you're not using. This includes the door to your attached garage.To keep more heat inside your home, open blinds and drapes. When it's hot outside, keep blinds and drapes partially closed. Also, seal windows and doors. Adding more insulation to walls and ceilings is another way to keep heat inside your home when it's cold outside.
Easiest of all the ways to save money on utility bills may be to turn water off while you shave and brush your teeth. Washing your vehicle at a public car wash saves on water. Close the freezer and the refrigerator while you're cooking. Flush the toilet after you relieve yourself, but avoid using the toilet as a trash receptacle. Each toilet flush uses approximately 1.6 gallons of water. Older toilets can use more than three times that amount with each flush.
Save $5 to$10 off each utility and you could pocket $30 or more a month. Cut back on utility usage even more and you might discover that you can do without one or more utilities. Instead of using the savings to take on new debt, invest in your future. Shift money that you save on your utility bill onto retirement accounts and bank savings.
Most homeowners can get by just fine without a backyard shed, so it might be a stretch to call it a "necessity". However, when your yard does not have a shed, you may be missing out on many advantages ranging from convenience to being more organized and efficient. There's also a lot to be said for being able to store, protect, and quickly find the right tools, gardening supplies, or pool chemicals when and where you need them.
If you're a serious gardener, swimming pool owner, or do-it-yourself landscaper, a backyard shed can make your life a lot easier and your maintenance work less of a chore. Since a small shed can run you as little as $300, affordability is usually not an issue—especially when you factor in the long-term benefits.
Whether you decide to build your own shed, hire a carpenter to do it, or buy a prefabricated one, it's an expense that's not difficult to justify. Here are a few of the many ways that a shed can serve your needs for years to come:
- Reduces clutter in your basement and garage: As all homeowners know, it doesn't take long for basements and garages to get cluttered and disorganized. By designating a separate space for things like tools, small machinery, gardening supplies, and pool chemicals, you'll make it a lot easier to maintain order in your home (and other storage areas).
- Good solution for storing riding mowers: The typical garage gets filled up pretty quickly with two vehicles, several bicycles, trash barrels, barbeque grills, golf clubs, tires, and other miscellaneous items. Squeezing in a riding mower among all those other things can be difficult, if not impossible! The solution: A large-enough shed with a sturdy ramp for driving your rider mower in and out.
- Protecting tools from the elements: Metal tools sometimes get left outside when there's not a convenient place to store them, and moisture can wreak havoc on their condition and usability. By having a dry, protected place to store your gardening and landscaping tools, they'll last longer and provide more long-term value for you.
- Other uses for a shed: Depending on the size of the shed and your family's needs, that extra space can be used for everything from firewood storage to woodworking projects, painting, and other activities. If you own a swimming pool, a nearby shed can be a convenient and relatively safe place to store sanitizing chemicals, pool maintenance equipment, inflatable toys, ladders, and pool games.
If you recently bought or sold a house, it may be only a matter of time before you need to move. Lucky for you, many moving companies are available to help you transport your personal belongings from one destination to the next.
What differentiates a good moving company from a great one? Here are three tips to ensure you can find the perfect company to help you with your upcoming move.
1. Get Multiple Quotes
When it comes to finding a moving company, there is no reason to break your budget. Fortunately, if you shop around, you can select a high-quality moving company that won't force you to overspend.
Reach out to a wide range of moving companies in your city or town. That way, you can receive multiple quotes.
Also, it is important to remember that the lowest price doesn't always guarantee the best service, particularly when it comes to moving companies. And even though price should be a consideration as you evaluate moving companies, it is essential to consider other factors.
The more you research that you perform into all of the moving companies that are available, the better off you will be. With plenty of research in hand, you should have no trouble choosing an affordable moving company that will exceed your expectations.
2. Look at a Moving Company's Experience
No two moving companies are identical, and in most cases, you can enjoy many benefits if you choose a proven moving company over an inexperienced one.
Ultimately, a proven moving company will have sufficient staff on hand to help you transport your belongings to your new address. This company likely employs customer service professionals who are happy to respond to any concerns or questions prior to moving day too.
A proven moving company also can help you alleviate stress as you prep for moving day. This company will go the extra mile to support you in any way possible, and by doing so, ensure you can receive comprehensive assistance when moving day arrives.
3. Ask for Client Referrals
If you're on the fence about a moving company, it certainly won't hurt to ask this business for client referrals.
In many cases, client referrals are difference-makers, particularly if you're struggling to decide between two moving companies.
A moving company should be able to provide you with client referrals at your request. Then, you can reach out to past clients to learn about their experiences with a particular moving company.
Client referrals offer excellent resources as you search for the ideal moving company. In fact, client referrals can provide you with moving company insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.
Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to your real estate agent for extra help. This housing market professional may be able to put you in touch with a variety of moving companies that can help you relocate your belongings.
Take the guesswork out of selecting a moving company – use the aforementioned tips, and you can find the ideal moving company based on your personal needs and finances.