Everybody wants to save money and find the best deals possible. This is true when it comes to food, clothing and even shelter. Yet, somehow, when our utility bills are delivered, we accept what we’re charged as face value. Why? Utilities, in spite of what the companies hope you’ll believe, are not necessarily deal-free. If you’re a savvy shopper and don’t mind making a few calls, you can save a lot more up front. Imagine that! No more trying to convince your family to live by candlelight to save a few bucks on electricity!
Make sure you understand every single charge, tax, and fee on your utility bills. Many utility companies have made a pretty penny by overcharging their customers because they know that most customers won’t challenge them on their prices. Heck, most of us feel like we can’t, because the U.S. is still primarily a regulated energy market, which means most states only have one or two providers for its power, water, garbage, etc. (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/josephsteinberg/2014/03/09/check-your-utility-bill-for-fraud-from-this-new-scam/)
Learning how to spot overcharging on your power bill and then notifying the company about the overcharge (and making sure you the surplus credited back to your account) is a fantastic way to make sure you never pay more than you absolutely have to for your utility costs.
Switch Utility Types
If your house is equipped for it, try switching from “regular” electricity to natural gas. You might not be able to switch over completely, but you can change some of your appliances, like your stove, oven, water heater, and heating system off of the power grid and over to gas. Natural gas is much cheaper than regular electricity and switching as many appliances over as possible will help you save more on your electric bill than you would likely spend on your gas bill.
Another option is to switch from buying garbage pickup and recycling services to taking your trash and recycling to the dump and the recycling center yourself. Keep in mind, though, that many city dumps charge a fee for people who want to dump their trash manually. Make sure you check the prices before simply opting out of your curbside service.
Remember how we talked about how most of the US is still a regulated energy market? Slowly but surely many states are choosing to deregulate their markets and allow their energy marketplace to become competitive. Arizona isn’t there yet, but a lot of states have adopted shopping models similar to those of our Canadian neighbors–central websites like Alberta Energy Providers (Source: http://www.albertaenergyproviders.com/enmax-alberta/alberta/) track current rates and trends for all of the providers in the area, which allows residents to comparison shop before choosing a provider with whom to work with.
Reduce Your Grid Dependency
Taking your house as much off the grid as you can afford is another option. This might seem counter-intuitive. You don’t want to have to buy a whole bunch of new stuff just to save a few bucks! Try to think of it this way: over the lifetime of most of your “off the grid” conversions, those conversions will likely save you more than you’d have spent without making them. (Source: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102077585)
And, remember, reducing municipal utility dependence doesn’t necessarily have to mean living in an entirely solar powered house, or pedaling a bicycle to power your blender. Smaller changes can go a long way as well. Energy efficient appliances are like magic for a power bill if you buy the right ones. Collecting rainwater will reduce your dependency on the municipal supply, reduce your bill and come in handy when we haven’t had rain in a while (this is Arizona, after all).
While we’ve been trying to focus on reducing your bills at their sources, it is also important that you take pains to reduce your utility consumption as well. This is particularly important with your water usage as California’s severe drought is going to have a direct impact on Arizona’s water supply. Shorten those showers. Only run the dishwasher and clothes washer when it’s full (or, better, wash your dishes by hand). You know what to do. It’s time to put that knowledge to work!
The point is this: you do not have to simply resign yourself to exhorbitant utility charges. There are steps that you can take to reduce your spending in these areas. The tips here are just a few of them. What are other things you’ve tried?