How First­time Homeowners with Student Loans Can Save Money on Utilities

Buying your first home is a great accomplishment, but it can also be an added financial burden to those already bogged down under the weight of student loan debt. It’s not impossible to manage both a mortgage and student loan payments, but it does take some budgeting finesse and cutting back in certain areas.

A great place to “cut the fat” is on your utility and household bills. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Save Money on Heating and Cooling

You’ll likely spend a large chunk of your budget on home utilities. Depending on what kind of heating system your home runs on you may have gas, electric or fuel. Heating and cooling is the largest portion of usage on this utility bill. One way to save money is to keep the thermostat set a few degrees cooler in the winter, and a few degrees warmer in the summer. You’d be surprised how just a few degrees can really make a difference on your final bill.

Why pay for heat that no one is using? Consider investing in an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature depending on the time of day. Set it to drop a few degrees while you’re out at work, and to warm back up just before you come home. You can also set it to control certain areas of the house.

Don’t heat the living room over­night while you’re in bed, keep it cooler until the morning hours when you’re ready to start the day.

Cut Costs on Your Electric Bill

Turn off lights and other electricity sucking devices while you’re out. Power strips make it easy to shut down an entire area in one shot. The television, cable box, Blu­ray player, video game console, and sound bar can be turned off with the flick of a switch. Cut out the “vampire” effect of these items sucking energy even when they’re not in use and you can save even more on your bill.

Another way to save is to shop around. The localelectricitycompanies.com website lets you search for suppliers in your ZIP code. You can compare the prices of these companies and find the one that’s best for your budget. It can pay to shop around; some companies will offer new customers fixed rate plans that can last months to a year.

Reduce Garbage Output and Water Consumption

Some areas require payment for weekly garbage pickup. An easy way to save is to reduce the amount of garbage you produce, which is also good for the environment. Start composting and reduce, re­use, recycle to cut costs on garbage pickup.

Water bills are usually not very high, but there’s still an opportunity to save. Conserving water can be good for your wallet as well as the environment. Each morning we can save several gallons of water simply by turning off the sink while we brush our teeth. Showers are much more efficient than baths, and low­flow shower heads will save you even more.

There are also toilets that use less water, invest in one and you won’t be “flushing” money down the toilet.

You can save money on your utility bills by turning down a thermostat, switching off a power strip, and even simply asking for reduced rates. Reducing these bills can put a little wiggle room in your budget; you might even be able to go out to a nice dinner! It can be daunting to deal with mortgage payments and student loans at the same time, but it can be done by using the strategies outlined above.

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