If you need to save money, your power and communications services can be an excellent place to start. These monthly costs can soar to hundreds of dollars, especially if you have an entire family using power or data on your communication plan.

Fortunately, these costs are not difficult to control if you follow the right steps. Here are some ideas you can use to get these costs down so that you can use your hard-earned money for other goals.

Cut Down on Your Usage

The best first step is always going to be cutting down on use.

When it comes to your home power, make sure you reduce your energy use by shutting off lights and appliances throughout your home while they are not in use. Appliances can be unplugged from the wall to prevent them from drawing power when they’re not needed.

Save on costly air conditioning by leaving for public places like malls or parks during the day when the weather is warmest. You may be able to get away with not using your air conditioning at all during the cooler evenings if you have enough windows for good air flow.

You can cut down on your phone data without losing touch with the outside world. Just find a way to access the internet that doesn’t use your plan. You can often access the internet using public wifi if you need to cut down on the amount of data that you are using. If they are nearby, a public library can be an excellent place to do your daily browsing without running up big fees.

Once you’ve cut down on your use, you can start to look at all the extra services that you don’t need anymore.

Cut Down on “Extra” Services

When it comes to your utilities, there often aren’t extra services to cut back, but the same cannot be said of your communication data plans.

Do you have unlimited data? You can cut that out of your plan and instead rely on wifi far more often. Do you have a texting add-on? You can cut that out of your plan and ask people to contact you on messaging apps, instead. You may have other add-ons for movies, music or other entertainment that you can also remove.

Of course, for you, the problem may not be the added-on services but instead the base service. If you think you may be paying too much, it’s time to consider shopping around.

Compare Rates for Local Utility and Communications Companies

You don’t have to have loyalty for your utility or communications companies. You should always be looking for the best deal possible, and that may mean asking around town to find out if you can save.

Always compare

Start by calling each company you can find in your local listings. By calling them, you may be able to learn about deals that aren’t widely advertised. Many companies have better-than-usual deals for new customers. They may even offer you bonus one-time incentives for switching over to the new service.

There’s also a flipside to this tactic. If you contact your current company and tell them that you’re planning on leaving, they may offer you great discounts to stay. Many companies have whole departments that focus on customer retention, and these departments are authorized to offer deals that aren’t advertised at all.

Once you’ve taken every step to save money by choosing the right company and plan, you can start thinking about the changes you can make at home.

Make Investments in Energy Efficiency

Your home is where all your power usage happens, and when you can’t cut back anymore, your next bet is to start thinking about the long-term savings that come with making upgrades in energy efficiency.

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Even a costly upgrade can save you money after a short amount of time. As an example, let’s look at the most common type of power waste in homes—lost heating and air conditioning. If you’re constantly using your home systems because they only make a difference for a short amount of time, you can fix that with some repairs.

If you’re the do-it-yourself type, through your home and start by fixing any drafts. This step should be easy, but you can go a lot farther if you’re willing. Consider how much you could save by replacing your systems with modern, energy-efficient models. Also, replacing your insulation or siding can make a huge difference in how long your home can retain either hot or cold air.

When all of these steps are followed—cutting down on usage and extra services, comparing rates and making investments, they can combine to create powerful savings. You won’t just be saving money; you’ll be helping to create a better world.