Yes, it's a one of the top expense-generating things in the whole house. How can you cut back and still be comfortable? Try some of these strategies.
- Change your furnace filters regularly. If something goes wrong with your heating and cooling system, chances are the first thing the repairman will ask when he shows up is, "Did you change the filter?" Often, that's all your system needs - a new filter. Don't get caught paying for a repairman to install a new filter for you! Change your filters at least every 90 days, and every 30 to 60 days during heavy use.
- Use fans and open windows whenever you can and only use the air conditioning when it's really hot (such as the kind of heat that poses a danger to your health).
- Consider investing in a fireplace insert, or using space heaters. Supplement your central heating with these items to help cut energy costs significantly.
- Close vents in rooms that aren't used during the day.
- Open blinds and curtains to let in winter sunshine and close them to block out hot summer sun.
Instead of calling a repairman at the first drip of a faucet, look into doing it yourself. There's an amazing array of tutorials online for a variety of problems; do a search for your particular challenge and see what's involved in fixing it. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they can help, too. There's probably a favor you can do in return.
Doing it yourself does save money, but if you don't have lawn equipment, see if you can rent or borrow it. That will cut costs even more. If you do have the equipment, you can rent it to others.
It's amazing how much money can be wasted by buying duplicates or near-duplicates of items you forget you have. Go through closets, drawers, storage bins, and so forth before buying new clothing, batteries, kitchen supplies, tools, nails, and so forth. You might be surprised at what you already have!
Food bills are a significant portion of household expenses. To cut back, try some of these ideas.
- Plan meals and shopping lists. You'll minimize your trips to the grocery store, and you'll free up time you might spend fretting over what to have and running to the store last-minute for an ingredient. You'll also save money if you can budget for your groceries and buy only what's on the list.
- Couponing can pay off as long as you keep a healthy perspective. Spending enormous amounts of time to save $0.35 may not be a great use of your time and money; but taking a little time to seek out sales and zeroing in on coupons for sale items can definitely be worthwhile. Go over your local grocery store's weekly sale flyer, either online or in the mail, and identify those sale items and plan your meals/coupons accordingly.
- Eat in. Even cheap restaurant food (like fast food) is more expensive than a home-cooked meal.