utility bills

Utility Bills: Rebates, Budgeting, and Saving Energy

As we progress into fall and move towards winter, the daylight hours become fewer. Many of you may recall hearing an adult in the household say, “turn the lights off when you are not using them!”. This probably does not carry much urgency unless you are the one paying BC Hydro. Every light left on unnecessarily, and every thermostat turned up just a little bit higher, represents an extra expense that no one needs. While this still might not seem like a big deal, it is a controllable factor that can help a household balance the budget.

Fall is a terrific time to take a look at what you are paying for your utilities such as hydro, heating, and phone. Consider if the amount you are paying is acceptable. More often than not, the expense level is just something that we have gotten used to and may in fact be higher than it needs to be. Even if it was $50 per month higher, that amount can become considerably large when you extrapolate it over a number of months and years. If you can take action to drop a utility bill $10 or $20, it is worthwhile.

For tips on helping keep your hydro costs down, BC Hydro has compiled a handy list of tips to save electricity on their website to help guide you in the process. For your heating costs, Fortis Gas has a similar section on saving energy on its website.

For telephone cost savings, simply phone your provider and ask for some ideas as to how you could reduce your phone bill and see what they have to say. You might be happily surprised as they don’t want you to switch to another provider.

Another angle is to ask the utility provider if you can go on an equal payment plan so as to avoid your utility bills spiking in the dark months. A higher than expected utility bill can cause you to miss paying on your other bills, thereby causing damage to your credit rating and cause penalties or interest. An equal payment plan should give you the same payment each month of the year and help make it easier to balance your budget as the expense would be the same each month.

Taking action on your utilities will help you avoid taking on debt in order to keep your household running. You want to prevent those $10 and $20 bills from falling out of your pocket and going down the heating vent. If you can save that same amount each month, you will be gaining momentum to build up your net worth. Reviewing your monthly expenses is part of the financial counselling sessions that we provide to individuals who are reorganizing their finances by way of a Consumer Proposal or a bankruptcy filing.

Our firm has been providing financial services to individuals and companies for over thirty years. Feel  free to take advantage of our no cost initial consultation by booking an appointment to learn about your options on how to reorganize your debts.

Derek L. Chase, CPA, CA, LIT

Being able to offer debt help assistance to individuals and corporations on a more intimate basis was a driving force in completing a “second CPA” by becoming licensed by the Federal Government as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (previously Trustee in Bankruptcy) in 1997. It is extremely satisfying to be able to witness lives change for the positive due to a restructuring of financial affairs.