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It is only human nature to believe we are overspending for the often unseen or unfelt benefits of utilities. Today, we celebrate low fuel prices but could we save even more if we managed our electric, gas, cable and cell phone usage more effectively? It is easy to assume that giant providers of these services are watching over us but rarely is that the case. Controlling our utility costs is up close and personal.

In any marketplace, supply and demand impact prices. When there is competition, prices tend to be more cost effective. Very often the first step in saving money on our utilities is to be sure we are participating in a competitive provider environment. After we identify the utilities we truly need, we should then begin to see how we can reduce our energy costs and increase the efficiency of the utilities we do need. Monitor your phone use. Look for more cost-effective usage plans and providers. Search for specials or coupons, and don't be afraid to negotiate for a better deal.


After that, our next step should be to be sure we need our contracted services. Do we need the cellphone package we are paying for? Do we need HBO, SHO and MAX and the super duper cable box that records six programs at one time? Do we need the air-conditioning every day? Very often when we are our own devil’s advocates, we can identify amazing savings and loads of waste. This is a great place to begin paring down our utility budget. Once we have a grip on our true needs, we can determine where we want to spend on “luxury” add-ons and we would, do well to refer to non-necessary utilities as just that, luxury expenses.

Practical Discipline Helps

The utility expenditure that disturbs most Americans is the energy used to power our heating and cooling systems. Tremendous advances have been made in energy conservation. Today’s heating and cooling units are efficient and cost-effective. By converting to a new system, individuals can use less energy, enjoy monthly utility savings and pay for the new unit with the savings generated by the upgrade.

However, many homeowners suffer from the loss of heat and cool air due to poor insulation values, drafty windows and seepage at door frames. Homeowners should check their doors, windows, attic and wall and basement insulation periodically. By tightening up the home’s insulation value we will know that we are not paying for heating and cooling that is migrating to the open air and that the air we heat or cool is staying in our living quarters. It is surprising how much poor insulation costs homeowners.

Discipline with phone use, cable contracts and heating and cooling is critical to stabilizing utility costs. Many utility providers are helpful about help0uing consumers identify potential savings. Never be afraid to ask you cable provider, cell provider, heating and cooling or electric provider for suggestions. You are likely to receive sound advice from these companies.

At the same time, a little family discipline can go a long way. Make sure the thermostat is set properly and not abused. Talk to family members about their cell usage, cable choices and the cost of gas and electric. It is surprising how many family members are oblivious to the cost of utilities. Education is a key ingredient in homes that spend less.

Set a reasonable budget that reflects your current usage. Try to reduce the utility expenditures and when they increase, find out why. Chances are good that much of your waste is the result of soft discipline, misunderstandings, overspending on utility plans or poor infrastructure which can be corrected. If you are serious about trimming your utility costs, be committed and educate your family as to the importance.

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