With warmer weather just around the corner, utilities often increase significantly as air conditioners and fans starts running almost constantly. However, you don’t need to let your bills increase just because the temperature is. In fact, whether it’s summer or winter, here are twelve great ways to reduce your utility bill. The first thing you’ll want to do is check all your doors and windows for leaks or cracks. You’d be surprised at how much a small leak can increase your utility bill! If needed, replace the whole door or window frame, but usually it’s a small fix that doesn’t take much time or money. Speaking of windows, a great way to heat or cool your home is by smartly using the blinds and curtains. During summer, it might be tempting to let the sunshine in, but you’re also letting in heat, which makes your AC have to work harder. So, when possible, keep the blinds and curtains closed during the summer and open during winter. There is one caveat to this, though. If you get a nice cross breeze in your home, then you can keep the blinds AND windows open during the summer. This can significantly cool down your home without using a lick of AC! However, you won’t be able to do this every day if you live in a place that gets pretty hot. If you don’t cook at home or only cook for a few people, then consider investing in a toaster oven. It’s smaller than your regular oven, meaning it takes less time, energy, and money to heat up! A meal or dish for two or three people can easily fit inside a normal toaster oven, saving you lots of money in the long run. If you’re a people person, then you can also call up your utility company and ask if they have any discounts or alternative plans that you can try to save money. Most companies actually have a few plans you can choose from that help you customize your utility usage to your best advantage. At worst, you get a no, at best you can save hundreds. If you haven’t already, buy energy efficient light bulbs and appliances. You can wait until your light bulbs burn out or the appliances wear down if you want, but replacing them with energy efficient ones will drastically reduce your utility bill. Somewhat along those same lines, consider investing in solar power (especially if you live in a hot and sunny place). It might cost a bit upfront, but most solar power systems pay for themselves in under five years! You’ll be saving money and saving the planet, all at once! Whenever possible, use cold water for cooking and washing things. If you use hot water, it’s going to be more expensive (because it has to be heated), but you sometimes need hot water (like washing some dirty dishes). If you get into this habit, then you can see quite a few dollars shaved off your utility bill. Some jobs and companies actually give you a discount on certain utilities if you work for them. Not a lot do this, but you can also check with your employer to see if they offer any kind of discount, even if it’s a small one. A super easy way to increase the efficiency of your air system while decreasing your utility bill is by replacing any air filters. If the filter is clogged and dirty, the air conditioner or heater will have to work harder to pump cold or hot air in. Not only that, but the dirt gets spread around your home. Change the filter and breathe a little easier (literally and financially!). I don’t know about you guys, but I used to leave a lot of my things plugged in, just because it was more convenient. However, I learned that that’s not only bad for the environment, it’s also bad for my wallet! Get rid of “phantom power” by unplugging any cords or appliances that aren’t in use. That way, they aren’t using energy when not in use because they aren’t plugged in. Another great way to decrease your utility bill is by buying a programmable and/or smart thermostat. There are tons of different brands and kinds, but you can get them for as cheap as $20. These thermostats respond to the temperature of your house, adjusting it when necessary. You can also program some from your phone, making managing the temperature that much easier.