17 ways to save on utility bills

A busy household can run up a hefty utility bill at the end of every month.

With costs of living going up, families may find it difficult to put aside money to spend on leisure and entertainment. For some, it can even be difficult to save money.

The way each household chooses to use electricity, water and the telephone at home can greatly affect how large its expenditure is at the end of the month.

While the difference might not be stark at first, those who practice conservation will be able to see bigger savings as they learn to minimise their spending on utilities. With a little more effort and a slight tweak in lifestyle, households can see themselves saving significant amounts over a period of time.

Click through the gallery for tips on how to cut costs at home.

17 ways to save money on your utility bills
  • Update yourself with the latest promotions and contracts and choose the one which fits your consumption pattern best. You can analyse past bills to find out when and what you spend most money on.
  • Save the environment and money at the same time with energy efficient appliances.
  • Don't use the air-conditioner unless absolutely necessary.
  • Use a stove kettle to boil water instead of an electric one.
  • Make use of the sun's energy and let your laundry dry the natural way, free of charge.
  • Turn your computers to energy saving mode to consume less electricity.
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs or bulbs with lower power.
  • You don't need a strong flow of water to wash your hards or the dishes. Reduce the flow of water so you don't waste water and money.
  • Save money on water by cutting down the number of times you wash your car.
  • Take showers, not baths. When you shower, also be sure to do it quickly and efficiently by turning the tap off when you are lathering your body in soap.
  • This reduces the amount of water you use. The Star reader Samaneri says one can save water by washing plates and kitchen utensils in one go, using two big basins of clean water.
“Wipe any left-over food or stains away before dipping the used utensils into the first basin; put them into the second basin for a final cleaning,” she said.
  • Soak items like rags in water instead of cleaning them under a running stream of water.
  • Throw your used facial tissues in a garbage bin instead of flushing them down the toilet.
  • Use the washing machine only if you have a full load of laundry. If you can, wash the clothes using the the energy efficient mode as well.
  • When cooking, don't use too much water as it goes to waste anyway. Use only what you need to cook your food item.
  • Don't waste electricity and money by leaving appliances turned on when they are not in use.
  • Save your phone plan's 'free minutes' for another time. When you are in a wireless connection range, use free calling and messaging apps instead.
28 ways to spend less money immediately
  • Stop paying GST and service charge for food you can prepare at home.
  • There is probably food you forgot existed in there.
  • Bulk buy items you use often from wholesale centres or places which sell more for less.
  • Instead of canned food, spend your money on fresh produce and dried foods as these tend to cost less.
  • Especially if you can't taste the difference.
  • These are usually expensive and are less healthy than fresh food bought from the foodcourt.
  • Overbuying leads to a waste of food and money. If you buy too much, you tend to forget what you bought and will not even realise it exists until it is expired.
  • Cook meals that can be frozen like stew or other slow cooker items. These can be frozen and eaten for up to a week, saving you lots of money on dining out!
  • Coffee is a big waste of money when you find yourself having to drink it every day. Save money and make your own instead of buying ridiculously priced versions in restaurants and cafes.
  • Eat healthy and save money by bringing home-cooked food to work.
  • Drink from the tap or boil it instead of buying bottled mineral water.
  • Take down notes for every purchase you make. This will allow you to evaluate your spending habits, and helps you curb your spending before it gets too out of hand.
  • Set practical goals and work towards them so that it becomes easier for you to cut out unnecessary purchases in your life. For instance, if you aim to save $50,000 within 18 months, you will take clear steps to work toward that goal by working harder as well as cutting out extra expenses like expensive meals and travels.
  • Choose products that will last over those that are trendy or just cheap. A cheap pair of shoes will cost you more if you have to keep buying new ones to replace your broken pairs.
  • If you earn $20 an hour, think of how many hours you have to work to pay off that swanky new iPhone you want to buy but may not need.
  • Before spending money, think about how the purchase is going to impact your life. Will you be sacrificing a lot just to obtain something that will only bring you temporary happiness once in awhile?
  • Reduce the number of times you let yourself indulge in a month. Work towards a set number and stop yourself from indulging once you hit your monthly quota.
  • Make it a point to move 50% of your salary into a savings account immediately after you receive your pay for the month.
  • Don't risk having to pay needless fees.
  • There is no point buying a pair of jogging shoes if you know you are not going to go running unless somebody drags out you by the hair. Spend money on things you will spend considerable amount of time on.
  • Think through your wants and desires for at least 2 days before deciding whether or not to buy them.
  • If you don't have much time to watch TV, cut out your cable subscription and rent DVDs when you feel like watching movies instead. If you are finding it difficult to cut cable out of your life, cut down the number of channels you subscribe to and get a cheaper package instead.
  • Unless you read every page word-for-word, many of these magazines are a waste of money. Read them at the library or buy them only when you really want to instead. Also check out online subscription rates and opt to read papers online instead.
  • Take a look at your phone bill and find out what you spend most money on. Shop around with telcos and find out which plan best fits your phone usage habits so you can get a cheaper deal.
  • If you can't bear to sell your car, or are unable to, think of ways you can save money by walking more or taking public transport. Drive only on Sundays and holidays when there are no ERP charges and parking at many places will cost you a one-entry rate.
  • No need to buy books if you can find them in the library - for free!
  • You can either buy more from outlet shops or stock up when there are major discounts given. Many lifestyle and convenience shops have monthly discount days where discounts are given on everyday necessities. Take the chance to shop on these days and buy enough to last you till the next discount day held.
  • Get fit and save money by riding the bicycle instead of spending money on transport.
30 ways to cope with rising cost of living
  • Stop ordering expensive drinks.
  • Always have a shopping list.
  • Spend time with your family.
  • You may not even miss them.
  • Learn to be a handy man or woman.
  • Pay in cash or don't buy if you can't afford it.
  • Budget travels can be fun.
  • Optimise on free messaging services.
<br>Photo: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>
  • Ask a friend to help you.
  • Pay for fewer repairs.
  • Do a good deed for the environment.
  • Dress down.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Freeze the extras.
  • Re-wear them at least twice.
  • Shop on discount days and discount vouchers.
  • Keep them simple.
  • They can be as good as new.
  • It's healthier.
  • Don't get tempted.
  • Read online.
  • Go to Asiaone.com
  • Don't be shy to ask.
  • Get organised too.
  • Protect your lungs.
  • Care for your liver and eardrums too.

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