We all tend to accept what we have to pay on our utility bills, but that's probably not the best approach. Not only do utility companies make mistakes sometimes, but we often don't check our actual utility consumption, whether it's gas, water, or electricity (unless it jumps drastically). The good news is that there are some very easy ways to lower your bills, and it doesn't take all that much time or effort. If you implement the following measures, you'll soon find out that they will have a significant impact on how much you spend each month and over the course of a year. Even saving $20/month on each of your gas, water, and electric bills can add up to hundreds of dollars for the year. Here are 8 easy ways to start saving right now.


Change Your Bulbs to LED

Incandescent bulbs are so yesterday. Heck, even CFL bulbs aren't hip anymore. You can tell because it's actually hard to find them at the store these days since most bulbs are LED. The problem with both incandescent and CFL bulbs is that much of the energy used is wasted as heat. Plus, since there's mercury in CFLs, they still have to be disposed of wisely.

LEDs are super bright, use much less energy, emit very little heat, and cost less compared to incandescent and CFL bulbs. Swapping out to LED bulbs is as simple as regular bulbs. Oh, and did we mention that they are encased in plastic, so they don't shatter as easily? Another reason to switch over. If you do this for nearly all of your lighting, you'll see a significant reduction in electrical costs.


Shut Off Your Lights

If you have kids, you know what a pain it is to get them to turn off the lights when they're not being used. But we adults are guilty of failing to shut off the lights, as well, and we tend to leave them on because we forget or we're just too lazy to get up and do it.

If you're lazy but still want to save money, consider spending a little bit extra on bulbs that you can control with an app for your smartphone that has a timer or manual shutoff. This way, you don't have to get off your butt to turn them off, and you'll save money in the process. When you leave the house, shut off all the lights, and also turn them all off when you go to bed, except for exterior lighting for safety and security reasons.


Unplug Appliances

You might think your appliances are fully shut off and don't use any electricity when you're not using them, but you'd be very wrong. Your computer, TV, microwave, etc. still use a trickle of standby charge, and that can add up over the days, weeks, and months. It's wise to unplug them when you're not using them and especially when they go unused for longer periods of time.

No, we're not recommending you do this with your fridge. That would be no bueno. While it might seem like a royal pain to do so on a daily basis, you can also consider getting smart outlets or plugs that shut off standby current. Or just have them all plugged into a power strip that can be shut off with a single flick of the switch.


Reduce Water Usage

If you keep your water running while you're brushing your teeth, or you just love to take that extra long shower, please reconsider. Think about these facts: a running faucet will use as much as 5 gallons in a minute, a leaking toilet will use up to 10 gallons of water in an hour. That's thousands of gallons a week. Not only is it utterly wasteful, but it's also expensive.

You can do things like reducing the faucet flow, checking your toilet, keeping showers shorter, and even getting a low-flow showerhead. It might be an adjustment at first, but you'll get used to using less water, and you'll end up saving a ton of money in the process.


Adjust Your Thermostat Wisely

We are creatures of habit, and it's easier to leave the thermostat as is than to make adjustments to save money. But you have to consider the fact that you're using more heat and AC than you probably need. If you don't move around as much on a hot day, you will cool off more than you realize.

Instead of relying on air conditioning, dress cooler, run the ceiling fans, and use your window treatments to keep the sun out. Don't use your oven or stove and instead cook with the microwave. On cold days, dress warmly and make sure to move around more. Also, when you leave the house, don't shut the heat or AC completely off because your apartment has thermal mass and retains temperature from the outside. You'll tax your HVAC system by trying to get it back to a comfortable temp when you return.