In order to reach our goal of financial freedom, we are increasing income and slashing our expenses. We will be sharing ways that we’ve successfully decreased our expenses in order to help you cut your own costs.
I just received our gas bill for the month and was absolutely shocked to owe $40 less than I usually do!! This is an absolute delight since this was one area of our budget that I was not trying to cut back on. Had I thought that I could do better in this area I would have worked on it but our gas bill has been fairly steady over the years.
In our home, we use gas for our furnace and hot water heater. We live in Canada so we use quite a bit more natural gas in the winter than in the summer. We are on a ‘Budget Billing Plan’ that averages out your yearly usage so that you pay the same amount each month. This is helpful in our climate so that we don’t have enormous bills in the winter. Our gas provider, Enbridge, has adjusted our ‘BBP’ down by $40 a month which will be great for the rest of the year. I’m sure if our usage goes back up, Enbridge will re-adjust.
We have had an extremely mild winter and it really shows when I look at what we used last year compared to this year. We have even had an extra person living with us for the last few months (an extra shower each day) and our usage is still way down.
There are some things we have done to contribute to this lower usage though. We have been using our programmable thermostat to keep the heat down as much as possible. We set our thermostat very low and then I turn it up if I feel cold. Every few hours it resets itself to the very low temperature. This has seemed to work for us. We work somewhat erratic hours and when we tried to schedule the thermostat to work along with our lives it didn’t work very well. The house was always the wrong temperature at the wrong time.
We’ve also been using less hot water. Since I’ve been working less I have found that I do less laundry (less laundry with a baby that wears cloth diapers- believe it or not- yes!). I wash our clothes in warm water and the diapers in hot. I haven’t had a lot of success with cold water washing, I’m not sure why. I’ve also been taking less showers/baths. When I was working full time I would shower in the morning and then take a bath for relaxation at night. I love baths, always have and this was how I enjoyed winding down each night. Now I just do one or the other because there is no way I have time for both!
We fixed the weatherstripping on our front door this winter. Last year the weatherstripping came off of our front door and living in the very old house that we do (with the original door because I just don’t have the heart to replace it yet), the weatherstripping is all that is keeping a hefty gust of wind out of our front foyer. Prior to fixing this, when the weather turned I began stuffing the gap with newspaper which worked surprisingly well but was a real inconvenience every time I needed to open the door to get the mail.
We had our ducts cleaned and our furnace cleaned out and maintained. We’ve renovated extensively over the last 6 years and a lot of junk had ended up in our duct work. Since we are done all the worst of the renos, we wanted to get this all cleaned up in an effort to improve airflow. Also, because of the age of our furnace and some reliability issues we’ve had over the past few years, we recently purchased a furnace insurance plan through Direct Energy. (I would not recommend these in all cases but it makes a lot of sense for us and has already paid for itself a couple times over.) This plan includes a regular furnace maintenance which I figure can only help to keep our furnace running optimally and potentially use less resources. Also, included in our duct cleaning package was a full furnace cleaning that should have helped as well.
I am not sure how much of a difference each of these things made, if any, but spending $40 less on my natural gas bill was an extremely nice surprise as I’ve been working so hard to cut back in other areas of our budget! If anything, I am more inspired than ever to keep this bill low – despite any crazy weather that might come our way next winter!