Utilities are expensive. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends about $2,200 per year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling.
For apartment dwellers, you should budget around $200 a month for your utilities.
Whether you live in a large apartment or a smaller studio, cutting costs means learning how to conserve energy by understanding peak energy usage times. It could also involve swapping out energy-sucking appliances and light bulbs.
If you're looking for apps to help you save on monthly bills there are a few that stand out from the crowd.
Some money-saving apps are designed to show you how much energy you're consuming (so you can learn to adjust your habits and lower your bills), and other apps can negotiate a lower bill on your behalf.
Check out the following apps that may help you cut costs on your monthly bills.
Trim is like an “assistant" that can help you save money on your cable bill, auto insurance and monthly subscriptions. The company says they can lower your cable, Internet or phone bill with any provider, by up to 30 percent. Trim also finds hidden charges on your checking and credit card accounts that you may have otherwise missed.
Think about subscriptions that are auto-renewed to your credit cards every year. There may be a few you've forgotten about, such as magazine subscriptions, identity theft protection services, box services and gym memberships.
It's free to sign up but if they successfully negotiate a lower rate for your bills, they take 33 percent of the estimated yearly savings. So, if you saved $10 a month on your cable bill for 12 months, Trim gets $40.
The Trim app seeks them out and asks you via text if you're interested in keeping the recurring charge. If you're not, Trim will contact the billing company for you and have the charge or service canceled.
Billshark is another service that's similar to Trim. The company, backed by investor Mark Cuban from “Shark Tank," allows you to take photos of your bills so Billshark can negotiate a lower bill for you. You also have the option of connecting your accounts directly to Billshark.
Some bills they may be able to negotiate for you include your Internet, cable TV, home security, satellite radio and your cell phone bill.
Billshark claims to have an 85 percent success rate and aims to lower your bills by up to 25 percent. It's free to sign up.
If you'd like to see if you can get a lower bill for your subscriptions with AT&T, Spectrum or Comcast, check out Truebill. The company works to cut costs for you, including unwanted subscriptions, one-time credits or free trial subscriptions you may have forgotten about.
Just like the other apps listed, it's free to sign up and you only pay if they're successful in negotiating a lower rate for you. Their “success fee" is 40 percent of the first year's savings.
Are you looking to be more energy efficient? If so, check out Arcadia Power, which helps you be more mindful about being green. All you have to do is create a free account and then upload your utility bill. The company then scans your bill and does the rest.
Logan Allec, a CPA and founder of Money Done Right, recommends Arcadia Power:
“The company buys energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy farms, and then sells this clean energy to you. Depending on where you live, this could result in energy savings in and of itself."
Arcadia Power also sets you up with a nice dashboard in their app that checks your local energy market and finds the lowest rates possible for you.
OhmConnect is an app that tells you when to conserve energy during peak hours (or when you get charged the most). When you conserve energy during these times, OhmConnect rewards you.
If you happen to reside in California, Texas or Toronto, OhmConnect may help you lower your utility bills with:
When you sign up, you agree to reduce your energy usage to one hour per week in certain timeframes called #OhmHours. You'll receive payments by reducing your electricity usage during peak hours. They also offer OhmConnect points that you can trade in for PayPal cash.
Be mindful of higher-power appliances and when you're using them.
Allec says energy calculator apps are a helpful because, “It helps you visualize how much energy each appliance in your home uses by day, week and month. With this information, you can make smarter energy decisions." His calculator of choice is Energy Cost Calculator.
The table below gives you an idea of how much energy your appliances use and how much that energy costs.
Who doesn't love the idea of using an app as your assistant? Use them to help negotiate lower bills, get rid of subscriptions you no longer want and understand the best ways to conserve energy and go green.
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