SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — It's never too early to start saving money when it comes to your utility bills. Utility costs have skyrocketed during the last few months, serving as another inflation flashpoint that has added new strains on the household budget.
And just as many utility companies have announced they will be raising prices because of inflation; many are also offering suggestions on ways you can cut your bill by double-digit percentages.
Spire Energy serves more than 1 million customers in Missouri and offers simple tips to cut your bill by up to 10%. Recently, the utility company had to raise rates due to inflation and infrastructure changes.
"Everything is going up," said Paul Englert, a weatherization specialist at Spire.
He works with non-profits to create life-changing, energy efficiencies in homes, but he says most people can make minor changes for a big impact. And yes, Englert does these things in his home as well.
He said to take a dollar bill or a piece of paper and use it to test the draftiness of your outside doors. Put the bill in the door before shutting it, and if the bill can be pulled out easily, it's likely your door needs some weather stripping.
Another idea is to turn down your thermostat. You've likely heard that tip, but Englert said there's a standard degree drop that you should make overnight and while you're at work.
"If you set it back eight to 10 degrees, you could save up to 10% on your heating bills," said Englert.
Englert said he actually sets his thermostat back to 64 degrees during the day, but you have to find your own comfortable temperature.
Englert also said to be aware that there are a few savings around your furnace and hot water tank, from changing the filter every three months to sealing in the heat around your water tank pipes.
Sandy Barnett recently bought a newer townhome in Bridgeton and she was surprised at the ease of some of the improvements.
"Any way you can save is a positive," said Barnett. "I didn't know that no matter the age of your home, there are things you can do."
Englert also said you can open the shades during the day to let the sun in and close them at night. Buying gaskets to put behind your wall outlets also keeps out any extra drafts. You can also contact Spire to see if you qualify for any weatherization programs.
Ameren Missouri is another utility company with some additional tips. Ameren also allows for a free in-home assessment and allows customers to make energy-efficiency upgrades and make the payments through their bill.
Ameren also suggests switching to LED lightbulbs, using an advanced power strip, and tracking your energy use. The company said you can also save about 10% on your bill if you consider lowering the water heater temperature. Manufacturers typically set their water heater thermostats to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but most households are comfortable with 120 degrees.