If you’re like most homeowners, you get your utility bill in the mail (or online) and you instantly wonder: “Am I paying too much?”
The answer could be “yes”, but you’ll have to do a little investigative work to uncover areas where you could save money. The good news is that you don’t have to spend tons and tons of time. In fact, you can find out a lot by just spending a few minutes examining your monthly utility bills.
Most utilities, whether electric, natural gas or oil, will give you quite a bit of info on your statement. This helps you as you analyze whether or not you’re spending more than you should.
For instance, if you discover that your gas bill for November 2013 is 20% more than your bill for November 2012, but that the temperature outside this year averaged lower than last year, you have to figure out why the bill is higher. It could be that:
- Your gas supplier increased rates by close to 20%, thus accounting for the increase.
- Your home is losing heat through cracks in windows, doors, floorboards, etc.
- Your furnace is losing efficiency. (Have you had it checked this year?)
- Your ductwork is clogged, causing inefficient or uneven heating.
- Someone in the house is turning up the heat more than they did last year.
Although you can’t control the first result (that the supplier upped its rates), you can control the rest by focusing on maintenance, being diligent and installing a programmable thermostat.
Each month, take a good look at your utility bill and see if there are adjustments to be made. You may even notice some “red flags”, which could be indicators that there’s a mistake on your bill. (Always call your supplier if you have any questions, and try to call before you write out your check or authorize your bank to make a transfer of funds.)
As you get more comfortable with what is “normal” for this time of year, you’ll get a much better picture of where you can save money. You’ll also be better-versed as a homeowner.