Shifting to a work-from-home model can represent a major adjustment if you’re used to commuting to an office. If you’re one of the many who has made this change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve doubtless felt just how different it is to be performing day-to-day tasks remotely. Beyond the obvious differences between in-person and home work, there are also some unexpected challenges that can surprise you – such as the higher utility costs that can come from staying home.
While it’s inevitable you’ll spend more than usual on your utilities while at home full time, there are a few thrifty tips you can follow to make sure your budget stays sound during the weeks and months ahead. The following are just a few of these ideas to add to your daily routine.
1. Make sure you’re using smart devices for temperature control
If you’ve waited until now to get in on the craze for “smart” thermostats and other control devices around the house, it’s a great time to make the change. Intelligent thermostats that “learn” your routines and automatically adjust heating and cooling systems to keep your home at just the right temperature enable a more precise level of power use than ever before.
Not only does having a smart thermostat enable you to keep your heating and cooling going at maximum efficiency, utilities sometimes offer rebates to customers who make their home power consumption more efficient. Check with your local electric company: In some areas, there can be a direct financial reimbursement for the purchase of a modern digital thermostat.
When going out to an office, heating and cooling your home was a “set and forget” situation – when you’re in the house all day, there’s a greater need for precise temperature control. Investing in smart devices is an upfront investment that can pay off before too long, especially if your local utility will provide assistance.
2. Change the way you wash and dry clothes
While you always have to wash clothes, whether you’re wearing them to the office or staying at home, there are a few hands-on steps you can take while staying home to offset the extra utility expenses adding up elsewhere. While it’s usually a good idea to use cold-water wash to save money, the current pandemic conditions have changed that somewhat – since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend hot water use, you’ll have to find alternative ways to save on wash. This may include running larger loads of laundry at once to use the washer less frequently, as well as turning up the spin cycle to make the clothes less wet when they’re done washing and therefore reduce drying time.
You can also help cut electricity spending by reducing your drying times. Introducing absorbent dryer balls to a load of wet clothes can dry out the clothes more quickly and significantly cut the amount of time needed. Of course, even this is not the most drastic drying measure available to you: On warm days, you can forego the dryer altogether and string a clothes line in a backyard or on a balcony. Letting nature take care of the drying process while you work is a good way to cut down on electricity costs.
3. Check the filters on your appliances
Are all the appliances around your house working at peak efficiency? If not, you may be spending too much on power. A few checks and a little attention can get these devices back to their potential and ensure you’re not expending excess energy. If you’re using air conditioners this summer, you should make sure to frequently check their filters. This applies to both window-mounted units and central air systems. Microwaves mounted over the stove also tend to come with filters that can clog up, and can be cleaned for maximum effectiveness. Dishwashers, vacuums, dehumidifiers – all items with filters that may require periodic clearing.
The general concept and rule of thumb that will help you save money on your utility bills is that if something is not running at peak efficiency, it is costing you too much. Cutting back on any excess usage, whether that’s running too much water or putting too many small loads of laundry in the washer, will yield benefits. The individual advantages are small, but they add up over time, and the months ahead may include plenty of hours to take care of these matters.
When you’re looking after your budget in difficult times, favorable rates on your mortgage or refinancing can give you peace of mind and money in your pocket. Contact First Centennial Mortgage to learn more about what we offer our customers.