We are all looking for ways to save money, but few of us want to make major sacrifices. Finding ways to shave down bills a little at a time is the way to go. It hurts less, but the impact snowballs into major savings. Your utility bill is one of these sly savings areas. Here’s how to free up some cash in your monthly budget.

Be Like Your Dad And Use The Thermostat

Your dad was right on the money when he scolded you and your siblings about keeping it too cold in the summer or too warm in the winter. Your thermostat has programmable settings. Use them. Dial in a reasonable number for when you’re not home, when you are sleeping and when you are sitting on the couch watching TV.

Maintain Your Equipment

Air conditioning filters get dirty. The dirt blocks efficient flow and makes your HVAC system work harder than it should. Changing the filter every 60 days keeps your machine running optimally. Your air will be cleaner, too. Also, have your entire system inspected once a year. It’s better to learn of a problem before it gets out of hand, and you’ll know that your system is clean and ready for the season.

Watch Out For The Phantom Menace

All around your home there are computers, lamps and other electrical appliances plugged in idly. If you are not using these things, they should be unplugged. Why? Because of the phantom charge—the effect when a plugged-in item continues to pull current from your electrical system even when not being used. So unplug your coffee maker when not in use, and unplug that TV in the spare bedroom.

Cool Down Your Living Areas With Darkening Shades

If you have a room that faces the sun in the afternoon, your home can become an oven by the end of the day. One way to prevent the roasting is to draw shades and curtains. Not any old curtain will do, though. Blackout shade or room-darkening curtains are the way to go. For a cheap solution, pin a white bed sheet to the backsides of your curtains. The white will reflect the sun and slash your cooling bill.

Wash Everything On The Cold Cycle

Many people use warm or hot water for laundry based on old wisdom that cold water can’t remove stains. But today’s detergents are formulated to work perfectly in cold water. Avoid pouring your money down the drain and keep the machine turned to cold unless you need to sanitize laundry for health reasons.