So the economy has taken a downturn and in some way it affects each of us. We have been watching some of our basic bills like our gas, electric, and water bills go up. Maybe you recently purchased your first home, so you’re not sure if you feel the crunch. But if you’ve been in your home for a few years you might notice these subtle differences.
How can you stay plugged in and know when to ‘Just Say No’ as these prices rise and have an effect on your pocket? Here are some simple tips to help you cut down on those escalating bills.
1. Change the payment date on utility bills.
If you’re having trouble keeping your head above the water, find out if you can adjust the dates on some of your utility bill due dates according to when you get paid. Many companies are willing to work with you on this. You could also consider changing over to budget billing if that’s something you haven’t done in the past. Budget billing takes an average of your highest and lowest bills and you get charged the average each month. Or, if you have a gas bill, see about getting a 6 or 12 month fixed rate. This is often cheaper in the long run than dealing with changing variable rates.
2. Check your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy.
If you’ve been living in your home for more than 5 years, depending on where you live, there may have been a slight decline in home values in your neighborhood. Get a comparative market analysis to find out your home’s current value. Then, call your Homeowner’s Insurance provider. Find out if they are assessing your home’s rebuild value for more than it’s worth. If that’s the case, you may be able to reduce the annual fee on your homeowner’s insurance policy.
3. Pay close attention to your annual Property Taxes.
This can be a tricky one. When you receive your Property Tax Bill, take a close look at the Appraised value of your home. This may be another situation where your home is being overvalued resulting in higher taxes for you to pay. This can be disputed, but most counties only offer a short period for dispute. If you don’t know your home’s current value (as deemed by your county), most counties offer Property Tax estimates on their websites. A good tip for disputing your county’s property tax assessment is to get a comparative market analysis for homes in your area.
4. Purchase energy efficient appliances and accessories.
Lightbulbs, small home appliances can be save costs on monthly bills too. Halogen lightbulbs could cost a little bit more at the grocery store, but don’t need replacing as often and are more energy efficient than the bulbs we all grew up using. Also, if you are starting to make upgrades to major appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators, then make sure your new appliances have the energy star seal. Ask the salesman how efficient
5. Change your air filters every 3-4 months.
Yes, during the summer months you want to make sure the air filter in your HVAC is changed on a regular basis. This is very important because as this filter and air ducts become dirty, it weighs on your HVAC’s efficiency and you end up paying for it. Make sure you check on this regularly to avoid unnecessary, additional costs.
So there are a few tips to help you out. Are there any other ways you’re saving on your bills? Share your tips with us.