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How Your Phone Can Help You Reduce Your Energy Bill

How Your Phone Can Help You Reduce Your Energy Bill

Heating and cooling your home can really hike up the price of your electricity bill, especially if you live in an area with extreme temperatures.

For instance, in the south, where humidity and heat are both high most of the year, homeowners tend to run their A/C constantly. When they don’t, the temperature inside their homes can become unbearable.

Not only is this bad for energy consumption, it’s terrible for the environment. Higher energy consumption means more fossil fuels are needed, and that translates to an increase in greenhouse gases. That’s why everyone should do their part to reduce their energy footprint as much as possible.

To save money on heating and cooling, you can do basic maintenance on AC units, swap out thermostats for more efficient ones, and even seal up ducts. Most of that stuff requires you to get in touch with a professional, however.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reduce your energy footprint on your own, without outside help? You might know that your smartphone can make you more productive, but did you know there are apps and devices that can help you save money? That’s right, you can use your phone to save money on your electricity bill.

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Kill-Ur-Watts

In 2012, the Department of Energy held a contest that tasked developers with creating “apps for energy,” which would essentially help people reduce energy consumption. During the event, KeyLogic Systems Inc. came up with the app Kill-Ur-Watts.

It is a free tool that allows you to track how much energy you use — after entering consumption data on your own — via a relative score. You can then take the score and apply it to reduce your energy footprint.

All information entered into the app is presented visually through charts, graphs and indicators. You can even square off with friends to see who gets the better score. It’s a great way to get motivated and save some money.

Get it: Kill-Ur-Watts on iTunes | Free

Energy Cost Calculator

Want to quickly track how much energy you’re using in your home and find out the estimated cost? You can do all that with the Energy Cost Calculator app.

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Just take a look at the power meter on the outside of your home and use the numbers you gather to estimate a few stats. You must type in your estimated power consumption per hour, the hours of energy you use each day, and the cost per watt or kilowatt, which you can find on your power bill. The calculator will then tell you how much energy you’re using and roughly how much that costs.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration calculated the 2015 residential average was at about $114 per month. You can compare your bill to the average to see just how high your consumption ratings are.

Get it: Energy Cost Calculator on iTunes | Free

Energy CURB

Energy trackers and power calculators are great, but if you don’t know how to cut down on the amount of energy you’re using, they won’t make a lick of difference. That’s the point of Energy CURB, which offers you helpful advice for reducing your energy consumption. This app could be the Cadillac of energy apps.

If you’re looking for something that you can apply to your home and integrate everywhere, then CURB will work for you. It will help you allocate a specific budget and notify you if you’re close to the limit — and you can track trends over time. You can also integrate with other smart or green energy sources, such as your electric car and solar panels.

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When you make the right moves, you could save up to 20 percent on your home’s heating and cooling costs. The tips are valuable and will certainly help you save some money.

Get it: Energy CURB on iTunes | ~$300

Nest Learning Thermostat and App

The Nest learning thermostat is a “smart” home device, or more specifically a smart thermostat to replace your “dumb” one. It comes with a free companion app for Android and iOS.

While the Nest can interface with a variety of smart home products, increasing its practicality, the true allure is the cost savings it can offer. The thermostat works autonomously to help reduce energy usage in your home. It learns your habits and preferences, and then automatically adjusts the temperature in your home accordingly:

  • You can set it up so it turns off the air when you leave for errands or work, and turns it back on when you head home.
  • You can have it track your location via your smartphone
  • You can control everything on the thermostat through your phone

The companion app is free, but the Nest is not. Nest claims its smart thermostat will “pay for itself in cost savings” over time by helping you to reduce your energy bill. In fact, some energy companies will refund you the cost of Nest when you install the device and sign up for select plans, simply because you can save so much.

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Get it: Nest Learning Thermostat | $249

Light Bulb Finder

Believe it or not, one of the most egregious power hogs in your home may be your light bulbs. You can actually save quite a bit of money by swapping out your traditional bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, changing to more efficient bulbs means you will use about 25 percent to 80 percent less energy. These more modern bulbs tend to last 3-25 times longer than traditional ones, saving you even more money.

With the Light Bulb Finder app, you can find local stores that sell energy-efficient bulbs. The app also provides a bunch of helpful tips, namely concerns you’ll want to know about regarding traditional bulbs. It will even recommend different types of bulbs.

Get it: Light Bulb Finder | Free

By following these tips along with a few others, you’ll save money on your heating and cooling costs, as well as reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, it’s kind of fun to challenge yourself and see how you can reduce your costs.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Megan Wild

Editor, Freelancer

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Last Updated on April 3, 2019

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

How to Nix Your Credit Card Debt in Less Than 3 Years

Debt is never a fun thing to be in. But, there are many actions that you can take that will help you rid yourself of the burden of debt once and for all.

By coming up with a set plan, eliminating your debt can feel much easier than constantly thinking about it.

This post will provide some tips on how you can do this to help you nix your credit card debt in less than 3 years.

Hint: there are ways that are easier than you think.

1. Consider Consolidating Multiple Credit Cards If Possible

This may not be applicable to you, but if you have multiple cards – it is something to consider. Keeping up with multiple bills is time consuming.

It will depend on the balance you have on each. Consolidate ones you can but do not do it to the point that you get too close to the maximum limit. Also, it is ideal to pick the card with the lower interest rate.

Consider if there are any fees or alternatively, rewards, with transferring a balance to another card. Watch out for fees. Note that some cards offer rewards for transferring a balance to them. This is extra cash that can help go towards paying off your debt.

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Having one or two cards can make nixing your debt much simpler than keeping up with the balance of a bunch of cards. Keeping track of paying the minimum towards a bunch of cards is time consuming. Spend the time to consolidate instead to make the overall process simpler going forward.

My tip: Have one main credit card. Have a second one that you use for necessities – such as groceries or gas – that offers rewards for those purchases (a lot of cards do) and set the second one on auto-pay. You should be able to pay off a smaller amount on auto-pay if it is a necessity. If you think you cannot, then you may need to cut down a lot on expenses.

Why do I suggest doing this? Having one thing set to auto-pay is one less thing to think about. One less thing to waste time on. Same idea with consolidating to one main card. Tracking down too many is a hassle.

2. Try to Pay the Full Balance You Spent Each Month at the Very Least

You need to pay off the amount you are spending each month when that bill comes in. This is the amount you spent THAT month.

Do not let the debt keep accruing while you work on paying any unpaid debt that has accrued. It will become a never-ending battle. Try as best as you can to be current on paying for each month’s expenses when that month’s bill comes out.

If this is a strain, consider why. You may need to cut expenses. Or you may need to consider other cards. Or look at where this money is going.

3. Pay Extra When You Can – Every Small Amount Counts

This cannot be emphasized enough. If you are looking at a lot of credit card debt, it can look daunting, but each extra amount that you can put towards the debt will really add up – no matter how small it is.

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It does not just reduce the principal amount that you have left to pay off, but it reduces the amount that is collecting interest. You will always save money with that reduced interest.

4. Create a Plan on How to Pay Extra

Back to the main point, having this plan is giving you one less thing to think about.

This plan should be a plan that works for you. If it does not work for you, your spending habits, and your views on debt, then it will not be an effective plan.

For instance, if a set plan of an extra $50 (or another amount that you know you can afford) works for you, then do that. Set that aside every month and pay that extra amount. Treat it like a bill. Choose an amount that works for you and pay it like clockwork as though it was a bill you had to pay each month.

Little amounts will not nix it entirely, but they will help tackle it and having a set plan can make it less of a chore. Creating a new plan of how much to put towards it each month is an unnecessary added stress.

5. Cut out Costs for Services You Do Not Use

If you are signed up for subscriptions that you do not use because of some free trial or for some other reason, cut it out. Your overall financial position will look better.

In turn, that will make cutting your credit card debt easier. Look at your statements to find these expenses. If you do not use them, you may forget you are paying some unnecessary amount each month. Cutting it out can really add up in savings that you can put towards other needed expenses.

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6. Get Aggressive About It

Consider these points:

Depending on the interest and the level of debt, you may need to give up a few indulgences. For example, instead of ordering delivery or going out to eat, cook at home. Everything adds up.

Other things may be more of a sacrifice. It may be a trip you wanted to go on, or a daily latte habit you’ve picked up. In these instances, consider how important it is to you and if it’s worth the sacrifice. And if it is a costly expense, think whether you can wait to indulge.

Cutting an extravagant expense can really help make a dent in your overall debt. Try not to add to debt when you are trying to pay it off. It will be a never-ending battle. Make it less of a battle with these tips and it will feel easier.

Bottom line: Do what you can to make this process easier for you. Implement steps that do this. It takes time now, but will help overall. Also, keep track of your spending and paying down of your debts. Which is the next point.

7. Reevaluate Your Progress at Set Intervals

Doing a regular check-in can help you see your efforts pay off or maybe indicate that you need to give this a bit more effort. If you check every 3-6 months, it will not feel so much like a chore or feel so daunting.

By doing this, you will be able to better understand your progress and perhaps readjust your plan. Bonus: if you see it pay off, it will feel great to do this check-in. You will get there.

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Finally (and most importantly)…

8. Keep Trying

Do not get discouraged. Pushing it off will make it worse. Just keep trying.

Once your debt becomes lower, each monthly payment will reduce the balance more. Why? You are paying less towards interest. It will be a snowball effect eventually and it will become much easier to manage. Just get to that point. And know once you do, it will feel easier and motivating.

Start Knocking out Your Debt Today

The best way to eliminate debt is to get started right away. Begin by implementing the above steps and watch your debt just melt away. Try out some of the above strategies and see what works best for you. Soon you’ll be on your way to a debt free life.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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