Opting to work from home served as an important means of protection against Covid-19, but consumers’ lack of access to employer facilities has led to a burdensome increase in their household bills since March 2020. According to the latest doxoINSIGHTS report, consumers saw the greatest rise in utilities, mobile phone and their cable and internet bills.
“While remote work due to Covid may have saved Americans on their commuting costs, it inversely affected household bills tied to the services we all used as a result of being home more— namely, utilities, mobile phone and internet,” says Jim Kreyenhagen, vice president of marketing and consumer services at doxo, a web and mobile bill-pay service.
“The good news is that many households also began paying closer attention to how much they were paying across these categories, looking to trim costs or reduce usage where possible, and this may help save them on their bills even as they return to the office.”
In fact, of the 45% of consumers that reported an increase in their household bills over the last year, 70% of them were able to cut spending in at least one household bill category. To find out how other consumers can follow suit, I reached out to doxo for some of their best money-saving strategies. Whether you’re continuing to work from home or you’re returning to the office, here are some top tips for cutting costs.
- Lower the settings for heat during the winter or air conditioning during the summer. You would be amazed at how much a few degrees in either direction can save you money.
- Install home features to improve insulation and conserve costs including; energy-efficient bulbs, special insulating window treatments, smart power strips, and more.
- Invest in smart devices such as programmable thermostats that allow you to carefully calibrate and track your utilities usage.
- Use larger appliances, like dishwashers and laundry machines, more sparingly. Check with your utility provider for the least expensive times to run appliances.
Cable and Internet
- Engage with your provider to negotiate costs—some companies may be willing to match offers from competitors in order to prevent the loss of customers.
- Downsize to less expensive plans: for instance, you can downgrade to a slower internet speed or forego certain television channels.
- If you don’t have a bundle package, find out what is offered in your area. Combining phone, cable and internet from the same provider can slash the bill.
- Ask if you can reduce your monthly bill by renewing your agreement. I did this recently and saved about $40 a month.
- Negotiate a lower cost plan with your provider or switch providers altogether. Often times you can get a better deal by renewing your agreement.
- Alter your behavior—consider using a Wi-Fi plan (these generally do not have data caps whereas mobile data plans often do) or turning off data roaming when you’re traveling.
Remember to keep track of your expenses while working from home. Find out from your accountant if a percentage of these expenses would be a tax write-off for you.
Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her money saving tips and ways to give back on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at JeanettePavini.com.